Ukraine at D+446: Drone strikes and false flags.
N2K logoMay 16, 2023

Heavy drone and cruise missile strikes against Ukraine, and Ukraine answers with British-supplied Storm Shadows.

Ukraine at D+446: Drone strikes and false flags.

Russia conducted "exceptionally heavy" drone strikes against Kyiv and towns in Donetsk. Most were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses, Radio Free Europe | Radio Liberty reports. The strikes against Kyiv were for the most part carried out with a large number of Iranian-supplied Shahed cruise missiles. The BBC puts the number used against the Ukrainian capital at eighteen. Russia, according to the Wall Street Journal, is seeking to obtain more Shaheds from Iran. The US sees a growing Russian dependence on defense cooperation with Iran.

The other strikes used a range of Russian-manufactured missiles, air-, sea-, and ground-launched. Ukraine's Ministry of Defense said, "Six Kh-47M2 Kinzhal aeroballistic missiles were launched from six MiG-31K aircraft, 9 Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from ships in the Black Sea, and three surface-based missiles (S-400, Iskander-M) were launched."

Ukraine has also begun using longer-range weapons supplied by Western governments. Yesterday it struck Russian positions in the occupied city of Luhansk (controlled by Russia since 2014 and located some sixty miles behind the front) with British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles, the Washington Post reports.

This morning's situation report from the UK's Ministry of Defense offers an update on the fighting around Bakhmut. "Wagner Group forces continue to make gradual progress in clearing Ukrainian positions in the town centre of the contested Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut. However, over the last four days, Ukrainian forces have made tactical progress stabilising the flanks of Bakhmut to their advantage. As well as progress to the south of town, Ukrainian assaults have forced back the Russian frontline to the north-west of the town. This has likely enabled Ukrainian forces to re-establish more secure use of the key 0506 supply road. Ukraine is holding Russia’s western advances along the line of Donets-Donbas Canal, turning the waterway into an obstacle as part of a deep defensive zone around the town of Chasiv Yar."

An op-ed in the Washington Post by a former commanding general of the US Army Europe explains what's involved in preparing for a major offensive like the one Ukraine is readying. Lieutenant General (retired) Mark Hertling explains that exploiting the two decisive advantages the offense inherently offers--choosing the time and place of the attack--especially in such a large zone as Eastern Ukraine, is a complicated problem. It's solvable, but the solutions aren't trivial.

Report: Russian espionage service masquerades as a criminal gang.

TechCrunch reports that the Cuba ransomware gang, most closely associated with RomCom remote access Trojan (RAT), is not actually a criminal organization, but rather a false flag being flown by a Russian intelligence service. The attribution, which TechCrunch credits to BlackBerry, is based principally on Cuba's target selection and the timing of its attacks. Cuba behaves like a well-resourced combat support operation, its activities closely coordinated with Russian operations across the spectrum of conflict.

Geopolitical DDoS.

Distributed denial-of-service attacks against selected targets in NATO-member nations have risen since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Presently, Netscout reports, Finland, Hungary, and Turkey are receiving most of this malign attention.

CIA takes to Telegram to engage disaffected Russians.

The US Central Intelligence Agency has placed a video on a Telegram channel in which the Agency tells Russians unhappy with the war how they can share information with Langley. "The CIA wants to know the truth about Russia, and we are looking for reliable people who can tell us this truth. Your information may be more valuable than you think." The CIA has further shared the video over YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

Radio Life, Russia’s psyop radio station with questionable taste in Western pop music. 

KillNet posted a link to an online psyop radio station centered around demoralizing Ukrainian and foreign troops fighting in Ukraine. On its website Radio Life (Radio Zhizn) explains that its mission is to “help Ukrainian military members to make the right choice, accept the only decision, which will help save their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.” In the five minutes we were able to listen to it, the radio station was blasting Quiet Riots’s “Cum on Feel the Noize,” but the broadcast abruptly fell silent. The station also broadcasts to the Kharkov and Kherson Oblasts in Ukraine via VHF radio channels. The station also created a Telegram channel on May 7th 2022 with no posts until yesterday, when they dumped approximately fifty messages meant to demoralize Ukrainian service members and other Ukrainians engaged with the channel.