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*** Official Russia vs. Ukraine Discussion - Invasion has begun *** (3 Viewers)

I haven't been following as much as I used to ... where is the off ramp for Putin in all this? He's fighting a war he can't win, because even if he does on paper, Ukrainians will continue guerilla warfare for years and years. It's also an immense country in size to conquer.

At some point, doesn't Putin have to say "I was lied to by our generals, blah, blah, blah. We are pulling out but only if we get Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in eastern Ukraine." I think those are the Oblasts in Donbas region ... I may be wrong though. It seems to me if he can get something, or even keep Crimea he has an offramp he should be taking.
He is hoping to outlast western willpower to continue to support Ukraine with the ability to defend itself.

No matter the resolve of the Ukrainians to fight on, if the US and others stop supplying it with weapons and ammunition, it will falter and finally collapse. Russia is just too big, for a lack of a better word, for it to fight on without support. The Ukrainians would either fall or be forced to give up Crimea and the eastern regions Russia annexed last year in a treaty.
So like Afghanistan 40 years ago. But back then we had Rambo.

"We have people who are directly involved in combat," says Illia Vitiuk, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service's (SBU) cyber department.

Speaking inside the heavily protected SBU headquarters, he explains how his teams mix the skills of hackers and special forces - getting inside Russian systems, working alongside snipers and deploying the latest technologies.

The department uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) visual recognition systems to analyse information gathered from aerial drones (alongside intelligence from human sources, satellites and other technical sources) to provide targets for the military.

"We understand which type of military weapons they are about to use and on what direction," Mr Vitiuk says.

His teams will also hack into surveillance cameras on occupied territory to watch Russian troop movements. And they direct kamikaze drones to take out Russian cameras spying on Ukrainian movements. Doing this often requires teams working undercover, close to the target.

Drones - sometimes used for surveillance and sometimes to act as weapons - have been at the leading edge of innovation in this conflict.

The SBU cyber-team flies its own drones and plays a cat and mouse game to disrupt those belonging to Russia. It deploys sensors to detect drones so operators cannot just jam them but try to take control, sending commands to make them land.

All of this frequently needs to be done at close quarters. This, in turn, carries risk to the team members. "You need to protect them there. So you also need to have security around them," explains Mr Vitiuk.

Just outside the capital, military operators are being trained on drones.

Anton, who learnt to fly them in a previous life as a high-end travel guide, says the most important lesson is not teaching operators how to fly drones but how to stay alive themselves by avoiding being detected.

In the early stages of the war, small drones were flown up to 10km (six miles) from the front. But now Ukrainian operators need to be much closer, to overcome Russian jamming signals.

"The distance to the front line is getting shorter right now," Anton explains, while watching a drone flying overhead. "Our connection has to be stronger than the jamming."

At the Security Service, Illia Vitiuk's cyber-team works to counter the elite hackers from Russia's spy services by getting his hackers to penetrate their computer systems and listen to their phone calls.

"I always say that Ukraine has debunked the myth about mighty Russian hackers," he says, comparing the struggle to two closely matched fighters who know each other well, slugging it out in a ring. It has not been easy, he adds, and there have been close calls.

But Ukraine, he argues, is digesting Russian cyber-attacks by working them through its system.

Moscow is throwing almost all of its cyber-expertise against Ukraine and that leaves it with little capacity to attack Western targets.

If Ukraine falls, Mr Vitiuk warns, then those attacks will be directed elsewhere.

But in battling their Russian adversary, Ukraine and other allies are also learning new ways in which technology can be integrated into the modern battlefield.

I haven't been following as much as I used to ... where is the off ramp for Putin in all this? He's fighting a war he can't win, because even if he does on paper, Ukrainians will continue guerilla warfare for years and years. It's also an immense country in size to conquer.

At some point, doesn't Putin have to say "I was lied to by our generals, blah, blah, blah. We are pulling out but only if we get Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in eastern Ukraine." I think those are the Oblasts in Donbas region ... I may be wrong though. It seems to me if he can get something, or even keep Crimea he has an offramp he should be taking.
He is hoping to outlast western willpower to continue to support Ukraine with the ability to defend itself.

No matter the resolve of the Ukrainians to fight on, if the US and others stop supplying it with weapons and ammunition, it will falter and finally collapse. Russia is just too big, for a lack of a better word, for it to fight on without support. The Ukrainians would either fall or be forced to give up Crimea and the eastern regions Russia annexed last year in a treaty.
So like Afghanistan 40 years ago. But back then we had Rambo.
Rambo and a ton of weapons supplied by us.

Romania has now confirmed that parts of a Russian drone landed on its territory, just across the border from Ukraine, after denying that *categorically* for 2 days

The Defence Ministry now says "pieces of a Russian drone were found on our territory"

Western official, asked whether West can repeat arms buildup of this year, says Ukraine's dismounted tactics mean a lot more equipment has been preserved than was anticipated. Winter thus "not about giving lots more kit, but equipment support"—ammo, repair & reconstitution.

Western official strongly pushes back against focus on tactical developments. Urges focus on strategic factors. "This could be a very long struggle over territory. But in terms of the war ... Russia has lost and Russia is a diminished power and it's on a diminishing trajectory."

Ukrainians who lived through Russian occupation or escaped from Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine tell us some repetitive stories. Some clear patterns.

1. Often people are not allowed to leave their villages. Supplies (incl. food supplies) are often cut 1/6
2. Russia doesn't bring Russian law, but brings lawlessness. People lose their rights - even those who sympathize with Russia. Your house can be taken by someone else; your car can be confiscated; you can be abducted, nobody would investitage. 2/6
3. Lots of people who are missing. We don't know whether they are alive or not. Family members of these people are often forced to keep silent, violence will be applied to them as well. 3/6
4. If you live for months without food supplies (shops are closed, you cannot leave your village), you can only rely on your land, domestic animals and what you have in your personal food savings. Ukrainian peasants usually have a lot - at least they can survive 4/6
5. Some patterns - like not letting people leave their villages for months - remind of Holodomor, the Stalin's artificial famine in 1932-1933. Clearly these practices "live" in the minds and practices of the Russian soldiers and commanders 5/6
6. Tortures are applied widely. Esp. tortures with electric current. The Russian torturers call it "a call to putin". So they themselves acknowledge that the acts of cruelty should bear putin's name 6/6

Moving from the south to the eastern front now, where Russia is "preparing to take revenge", a top Ukrainian military official has said.

Moscow shows no signs of abandoning its plans to capture the whole of the Donbas, said the Ukrainian army's ground forces commander, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi.

Ukraine has pivoted to defending their positions in Kupiansk and Lyman, rather than pushing forward.

This is despite reports by the Institute for the Study of war earlier this week that Russia is redeploying elite troops from its offensives in the northeast to take up defensive positions in the south.

"The operational situation in the eastern directions remains difficult," said Col Gen Syrskyi.

"The enemy does not abandon his plans to reach the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, stubbornly prepares to take revenge and intercept the operational initiative."

The commander added the following updates on the main eastern fronts.

Bakhmut: Fierce battles continue as Russia holds its occupied positions, but Ukrainian units are "heroically, step by step, knocking out the invaders from their native land".

Kupiansk: Russia is completing the training of assault units and shelling Ukrainian positions every day.

Lyman: Moscow is rotating troops, bringing in soldiers from Russia itself.

Russian sources continue to complain that Russian forces lack sufficient counterbattery capabilities and artillery munitions in the face of ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive activities, which the Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) are reportedly attempting to combat. Russian milbloggers claimed on September 4 and 5 that Russian counterbattery systems are performing poorly along the front in Ukraine.[4] The milbloggers claimed that Russian forces are relying heavily on Lancet drones and 220mm and 300mm rounds for Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), of which there are limited stockpiles.[5] One Russian milblogger noted that the Russian MoD‘s plans to form five new artillery brigades in each of Russia’s five military districts are in part meant to improve general counterbattery capabilities.[6] It is unclear if the milblogger is claiming that the MoD plans to form five or 25 brigades total. The milblogger claimed that the Russian MoD would equip the new brigades with 203-mm 2S7 Pion and 2S7M Malka artillery systems from Russian stores.[7] The New York Times reported on September 4 that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok from September 10-13 and will reportedly discuss North Korea’s supply of artillery shells to Russia.[8] Russian sources have continually complained that Russian forces face problems with counterbattery operations.[9]
Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area are likely succeeding in pinning elements of the 7th Guards Mountain Airborne (VDV) Division and preventing them from laterally redeploying to critical areas of the front in western Zaporizhia Oblast. A Russian milblogger posted an audio recording on September 5 purportedly from a soldier in the Russian 247th VDV Regiment in which the soldier claims that he has to retrieve bodies of Russian personnel near Staromayorske because the Russian command is not overseeing the retrieval of bodies and claimed that his unit lost 49 killed in action in one day of fighting.[10] The Russian soldier’s claims suggest that elements of the 247th Regiment remain defending in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia Oblast area, despite claims from a prominent Russian source in late August that some elements are fighting in the Robotyne area.[11] ISW previously observed that elements of 108th VDV Regiment and 56th VDV Regiment — the two other constituent regiments of the 7th VDV Division — have redeployed to the Robotyne area.[12]

Russian President Vladimir Putin drew historical parallels between Soviet participation in the Second World War and the current war in Ukraine to set ideological expectations for a prolonged war effort. Putin gave a speech on September 5 that invoked the memory of significant Soviet military victories during the Second World War, including turning points in the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk and recapturing the Caucasus and Donbas.[18] Putin had notably attended a concert in honor of the Battle of Kursk’s 80th anniversary as Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plane crashed on August 23.[19] Putin criticized the international community’s “attitude” to the buildup to the Second World War — very likely criticizing European countries for failing to intervene against Nazi Germany prior to the outbreak of war (and ignoring the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that briefly allied the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany, permitted the Soviet invasion of the Baltic States, and partitioned Poland) — as also creating conditions for the current conflict in Ukraine and drew parallels between reconstruction efforts and veterans assistance measures during and after the Second World War and the current war in Ukraine.[20] Putin also reamplified the Kremlin information operation falsely portraying the Ukrainian government as a “Nazi regime.” These direct parallels between the “special military operation” and the Second World War are likely the closest that Putin or any other senior Russian official has come to acknowledging the war in Ukraine as an actual war. These parallels also message to a domestic Russian audience that the ongoing Russian war effort is really a war effort despite the insistence on the euphemistic “special military operation.”
Read this today. Makes so much sense.

The Russian civilization is disadvantaged:
  • The country is huge and unmanageable.
  • Officials, high and low, steal: corruption is rampant. This causes most of the country's population to live in poverty.
  • Alcoholism is a huge national problem
  • Birth rates are negative
All these things breed anger and aggression within the Russian populus. And the Russian state, in order to not be rased to the ground by its enraged populus, directs this national aggression externally. Thus, Russia invades its neighbors, threatens countries the world over. And, then, Russian propagandists sing praises to the strength and glory of the ever-strong mother Russia.
This serves as a relief valve for the anger and hopeless that are engendered within the Russian population by the realities of the country's existence.

After three months of achingly slow progress, Ukraine’s counter-offensive is gaining some momentum. Near the southern village of Robotyne, Ukrainian troops have pierced the first of Russia’s three defensive lines. They are now attacking the second. “Had we had this conversation two weeks ago, I would have been slightly more pessimistic,” says Trent Maul, the director of analysis for America’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). “Their breakthrough on that second defensive belt…is actually pretty considerable.” Can Ukraine breach it, and the third line beyond, before shells become scarce and winter beckons?
Mr Maul, whose DIA office on the Potomac river periodically shakes as Marine One, the presidential helicopter, shuttles to and fro from its heliport next door, is charged with answering such questions. The job of his agency, which is less well known than the cia, is to take the military measure of America’s foes. That often requires quantitative judgments: the range of an Iranian missile or the size of China’s fleet. An annual DIA report, “Soviet Military Power”, was read avidly during the cold war. But intangibles are just as important. Mr Maul singles out the will to fight—and candidly acknowledges that his agency got it wrong in Iraq in 2014 and Afghanistan in 2021, where American-built armies crumbled almost overnight.
“We thought the Afghans would fight until the end of the calendar year and try to have a heroic defence of Kabul,” says Mr Maul. Instead, “they basically folded pretty quickly.” That experience, along with the evaporation of the Iraqi army in the face of the Islamic State group, led DIA to “over-correct” when judging how Ukraine would fare when Russia invaded last year. “We had a similar thought that they were just overwhelmed on paper.” It has proved a teachable moment. Mr Maul brandishes a 40-page “tradecraft note”, published this January, which re-examines how the agency measures a country’s will to fight.
The paper emphasises how national factors—for instance, Volodymyr Zelensky’s insistence on staying in Kyiv, compared with Ashraf Ghani’s decision to flee Kabul—can affect the battlefield. It points to the importance of leadership on the front lines, an army’s esprit de corps, the strength of its command and control, and whether it enjoys sustained logistical and medical support. Such things were neglected because of the presumption that Ukraine’s leadership would be outmatched and defeated quickly. It is to guard against that sort of error that DIA analysts now fill out a detailed worksheet to help them think through these factors and how they can interact in unexpected ways.
This methodology is crucial when it comes to assessing the coming weeks in Ukraine. Mr Maul says that the DIA will be watching for signs that Russia can keep up the flow of artillery ammunition to the front lines and maintain leadership at the local level. He concedes that American and Ukrainian officials failed to appreciate the depth of Russia’s defences and how difficult it would be for Ukraine to “smash through” them with armour. Ukrainian generals have told the Guardian newspaper that 80% of Russia’s effort went into building its first and second lines. But Mr Maul cautions that the bulk of Russia’s reinforcements remain at the third.

In recent weeks American officials have privately sniped at Ukrainian commanders over their military strategy—in particular the decision to deploy experienced units in the east around Bakhmut rather than on the key axis in the south. Mr Maul is more tactful. “It’s open to debate whether the Ukrainians have deployed the sort of tactics that you would hope would have made more aggressive gains in a shorter time,” he offers. More important are two critical variables: Ukraine’s stockpile of ammunition, vital for sustaining the artillery barrages that enable progress, and the weather, which becomes wetter in the autumn.
One Biden administration official says that Ukraine has around six to seven weeks of combat left before its offensive culminates. There are private disagreements over how much progress can be made in that time. Some reckon that Ukraine’s army, having thrown in most of its reserves prior to breaking the second line, and taking heavy casualties attempting to breach it, is unlikely to get far. “If you look at the battlefield in five years’ time, it could look broadly similar,” says a senior American intelligence official, emphasising that the quality of both Russian and Ukrainian forces is declining over time.
Mr Maul is somewhat less gloomy. He notes that Sergei Surovokin, the Russian general who built the defensive lines, and Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose Wagner Group mercenaries achieved Russia’s most tangible gains of the past year, are both off the battlefield—the former sacked and the latter dead in a plane crash. Mr Maul, choosing his words with care, says that Ukraine’s recent successes are “significant” and give its forces a “realistic possibility”—intel-speak for 40-50% probability—of breaking the remaining Russian lines by the end of the year. But he warns that limited ammunition and worsening weather will make this “very difficult”.

Attention is already turning to the next fighting season. Even without a breakthrough this year, the DIA is moderately confident that if Ukraine can widen the salient around Robotyne, hold its positions and keep ammo flowing in, it will be well placed for a fresh push in 2024.
The Russian civilization is disadvantaged:
  • The country is huge and unmanageable.
  • Officials, high and low, steal: corruption is rampant. This causes most of the country's population to live in poverty.
  • Alcoholism is a huge national problem
  • Birth rates are negative
It also has close to zero national experience with good government, let alone democracy. Like in 1200 years.

Elon Musk secretly ordered SpaceX engineers to switch off the Starlink satellite communications network near the coast of occupied Crimea in order to thwart a Ukrainian surprise attack on Russia’s naval fleet, according to a report. The incident last year is reported in Walter Isaacson’s upcoming biography of the billionaire titled Elon Musk. With the comms down, the Ukrainian submarine drones packed with explosives “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly,” Isaacson writes, according to CNN. Musk was reportedly motivated to foil the attack out of concern that a strike on Crimea would constitute a “mini-Pearl Harbor” and lead to Russia retaliating with nuclear weapons. The SpaceX boss apparently began to question his decision to support Starlink being used for Kyiv’s military communications when Ukraine started to use the tech in offensive operations against Russia. “How am I in this war?” Musk asked Isaacson. “Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes.”

This is an interesting resource to play with. It tracks the aid given by country. Further divides that into military, financial, and humanitarian aid.

Now, two months after the United States shipped an initial tranche of the munitions to Ukraine to ensure its troops did not run out of ammunition, three American officials said the Biden administration is planning to send more, and soon.
One official said the weapons were key to helping Ukraine maintain the momentum its troops just recently gained on the southern front against Russian forces. All three of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

Some Ukrainian troops said U.S.-supplied cluster munitions have been a powerful addition to a slew of weapons the West has sent for the counteroffensive, and a necessary substitute for their dwindling stocks of 155-millimeter artillery shells.
“They are super efficient,” said one Ukrainian marine, who participated in the successful fight for Urozhaine and who identified himself only as Serhiy. “When our guys see how we use them against the enemy, their spirits soar.”
But other Ukrainian soldiers are more measured, saying cluster munitions are used mostly in situations where enemy infantry are exposed, and that they are largely ineffective against the dug-in Russian positions — line after line of trenches and bunkers — that are the major obstacle to the counteroffensive.
Western officials and experts agree that cluster munitions — multiple bomblets packed in shells that disperse over a wide area before impact — are most effective against forces and vehicle convoys that are spread out over open terrain. Because the bomblets leave the shells in a scattershot way, it is hard to direct them at precise targets.
So far, American officials said, they have been used to strike concentrations of Russian troops, artillery systems, air defenses, ammunition depots, radar stations and vehicles.

With NATO states’ stockpiles of other ammunition to donate running alarmingly low, and with weapons manufacturers in the United States and Europe unable to keep up, experts said cluster munitions may be one of the only available means to refill Ukraine’s supply.
Ukraine’s voracious demand for ammunition is expected to rise as some units increasingly rely on heavy artillery to lay the ground for infantry advances instead of NATO-style combined arms warfare that Ukrainian units have struggled to master.
U.S. officials have estimated that Ukrainian forces were recently firing as many as 8,000 artillery rounds each day — including hundreds of cluster munitions.
Taken together, that could lead to cluster munitions becoming what George Barros at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, predicted could be a “permanent fixture within the Ukrainian arsenal.”

For now, Ukrainian forces say the arrival of American cluster munitions had not only raised morale, but also helped to pick apart Russian defensive positions in the south, keep pressure on Russian troops in the east and hold back Russian assaults in the northeast.
And some experts point to some specific battles where they argue the cluster munitions have helped. One of those places is the small city of Kupiansk in Kharkiv Province, where Ukraine has used them in defense more than offense.
Ukraine has struggled for months to maintain control of Kupiansk in the face of a Russian advance. Losing it now would be a major blow, said Mr. Kasapoğlu, who is also a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington and has been monitoring ground reports from Kupiansk on social media and other public sources.
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Accounts from the front lines in southern Ukraine suggest further incremental gains for Ukrainian forces amid constant artillery, mortar and rocket fire from both sides.

Geolocated videos show a wasteland of shell holes, abandoned trenches and wrecked military hardware in the area between Robotyne, Verbove and Novoprokopivka — a triangle of villages that hold the key for Ukrainians to getting closer to Tokmak, an important hub for Russian defenses.

Here's where the situation stands in and around each of the three villages:

Novoprokopivka: There was an advance in this direction and Ukraine captured several Russian positions east of this settlement, according to an unofficial Telegram account of soldiers of the Ukrainian 46th separate airmobile brigade. "Currently, the success is being secured and counterattacks are being repelled,” the Telegram channel said Thursday, adding that the effort to capture the heights near Novoprokopivka is underway.

This area is just 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) south of Robotyne.

Verbove: The 46th airmobile brigade suggested a harder fight around this area, saying there “was an attempt to gain ground to the north and northwest. Controlling the heights in these areas could strengthen the position of our units in the area of the settlement.”

The channel, which has frequently proven accurate in the past, said that Russian planes continue to bombard rear positions and artillery and drones on both sides were constantly working. In this situation, “it is hardly possible to expect a sharp change in the situation in anyone's favor in the near future,” the channel said.

Robotyne: Ukrainian forces "got Robotyne at a very high price. But the capture of this settlement opens the gates to Tokmak,” according to a soldier with the callsign "Bruce", commander of the 47th Brigade's reconnaissance unit.

“Bruce” added that then the road to the Sea of Azov would be open. “In my personal opinion, this will be the end. Because if we reach the Sea of Azov, both Crimea and the grouping of troops in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia directions will be surrounded, and this will be the end for Putin."
What's Russia saying: Russian-appointed official in control of occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia, Yevgeniy Balitsky, gave a different account of the situation, claiming that Moscow's forces "inflicted massive fire damage" on Ukrainian forces, including loss of soldiers and equipment. A Russian military blogger also claimed that several enemy attacks had been repelled.

What does independent analysis show: "Ukrainian forces have advanced along the trench line west of Verbove,” the Institute for the Study of War says, citing geolocated footage. It also noted claims by Russian military bloggers that Ukrainian forces were now trying to break through in the direction of Novoprokopivka.

Ukrainian air defences will be more effective now the country has more arms, a military commander has said.

Over the course of the war, nearly half of Ukraine's energy system has been damaged by Russian attacks and the threat of attacks on the power grid remains acute.

And Vadym Skybytskyi, a Ukrainian intelligence official, said last week Moscow could start using more Shahed drones alongside missiles to confuse Ukraine's air defences by presenting an array of targets.

But in comments to Reuters today, General Serhiy Naiev, commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces, said: "We understand that the enemy has not quit his criminal intentions to hit critical infrastructure facilities and cause damage to Ukraine and its economy.

"We had fewer [systems] last winter. Now we have been given more, and the effectiveness will be better."

But Samuel Bendett, senior adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said while Ukraine appeared to have prepared well for more strikes by drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), their gradually increasing numbers could pose a problem.

"There will be more of these UAVs in the air, but probably not much more than flying now, since Russia is still a long way from its intended goal to manufacture thousands of these drones."

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut and western Zaporizhia Oblast directions and have made gains in western Zaporizhia Oblast as of September 6. Geolocated footage shows that Ukrainian forces have advanced along the trench line west of Verbove (about 20km southeast of Orikhiv), and the Ukrainian General Staff stated that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified successes in the Robotyne—Novoprokopivka direction south of Orikhiv.[1] The Ukrainian General Staff additionally reported that Ukrainian forces are continuing successful offensive operations south of Bakhmut.[2]

Ukrainian and Russian sources report the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) faces growing challenges in replacing basic supplies in addition to known challenges in rebuilding its stocks of precision weapons. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence (GUR) Representative Andriy Yusov reported on September 6 that Russia can only produce “dozens” of Kalibr cruise missiles and smaller numbers of Iskander missiles per month, which will not enable Russia to the replenish its pre-2022 stocks.[3] Yusov reported that Russia struggles to obtain modern optical equipment, electronics, chips, and circuits and that “gray imports” and smuggling cannot completely cover the Russian DIB’s needs. Russian sources additionally noted that the Russian DIB cannot produce enough rubber to replace worn tires for military equipment vital to frontline operations, and noted that increasing wear on tires will make it difficult for wheeled vehicles to move in muddy, rainy, and icy conditions.[4] The Russian sources claimed that Russian authorities claimed at an unspecified time that they would find solutions to worn tires by mid-August, but the situation has not changed as of September 5.[5] Poor quality and insufficient tires will impose increasing constraints on Russian mobility in the muddy season and winter.
if those reports are correct about Elon turning off starlink i wouldn't be against nationalising it or some other punitive actions since US is paying for a lot of it.
if those reports are correct about Elon turning off starlink i wouldn't be against nationalising it or some other punitive actions since US is paying for a lot of it.
It happened before the US started paying Musk.

This is correct. US and other countries have bought terminals for Ukraine. The NYT did describe a story where, and I'm not totally sure of the contractual arrangement, a British supplier purchased terminals and the Ukrainian government was unable to pay the monthly fee. Musk turned off access. That same article talks about the geofencing effects during last year's counteroffensives. Starlink responded quickly then.

Roughly 90% of Ukrainian prisoners of war have been subjected to torture, rape, threats of sexual violence or other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment, according to recent estimates, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin said Thursday.

Ukraine found “evidence of these horrors in all the liberated territories,” Kostin said, during a meeting with Alice Kill Edwards, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on September 7 and made further gains on both sectors of the front. Geolocated footage published on September 7 indicates that Ukrainian forces have made further advances northwest of Verbove (18km southwest of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhia Oblast.[1] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces made further advances in the area and other milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces temporarily advanced to the northwestern outskirts of Verbove on September 6, likely indicating further recent Ukrainian advances northwest of the settlement.[2] Satellite imagery collected on September 6 shows burning foliage in a tree line roughly a kilometer northwest of Verbove, suggesting that Russian forces are firing on advancing Ukrainian forces in the area.[3] Geolocated footage published on September 7 indicates that Ukrainian forces have made marginal gains northwest of Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut).[4] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified successes south of Bakhmut and near Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) and Verbove in western Zaporizhia Oblast.[5]

US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director of Analysis Trent Maul stated that there is a “realistic possibility” that Ukrainian forces will break through the entire Russian defense in southern Ukraine by the end of 2023, while a Ukrainian source suggested that upcoming Russian defensive positions are weaker than those Ukrainian forces have previously breached. Maul stated on September 6 in an interview with the Economist that the recent Ukrainian breach of the “first” of three Russian defensive layers in southern Ukraine gives Ukrainian forces a “realistic possibility” to break through the remaining series of Russian defensive positions by the end of 2023.[6] Maul stated that Ukrainian forces have also advanced into the “second” Russian defensive layer, likely referring to recent advances by light Ukrainian infantry past the series of Russian defensive positions that run northwest of Verbove to north of Solodka Balka (20km south of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhia Oblast.[7] Former Ukrainian Aidar Battalion Commander Yevhen Dykyi stated on September 4 that battles are already ongoing at these Russian defensive positions but that Ukrainian forces have not yet broken through them.[8] Dykyi stated that the minefields ahead of the upcoming Russian defensive layer are not continuous, consistent with previous Ukrainian statements suggesting that Ukrainian forces have already advanced through the densest minefields.[9] Dykyi stated that Russia’s “third” defensive layer in southern Ukraine is primarily comprised of command posts, communication points, and warehouses and mainly acts as a support line for the Russian defensive positions further north.[10] Dykyi argued that Russian forces will not be able to hold back Ukrainian advances at this “third“ series of Russian defensive positions, implying that a definitive Ukrainian breach of the current Russian defensive layer would be operationally decisive. However, Maul notably stated that the bulk of Russian reinforcements are deployed to the “third” Russian defensive layer, contradicting Dykyi’s suggestion that these positions are merely supportive in nature.[11] The subsequent series of Russian defensive positions may be weaker, less mined, and less manned than the defensive layer that Ukrainian forces have breached. Russian defenses are not uniform across the front in southern Ukraine, however, and assessments of the strength of subsequent Russian defensive positions may be extrapolations based on limited information from small sectors of the front. Ukrainian forces are making tactical gains and successfully attriting defending Russian forces and ISW continues to assess Ukraine’s counteroffensive may achieve operational successes in 2023, but subsequent series of Russian defensive positions still pose significant challenges for Ukrainian forces and may in sections be strongly held.
Slovakian made remote demining system at work: https://twitter.com/front_ukrainian/status/1700082114031485189

Some video of the destruction of Russian Buk SAMs: https://twitter.com/nexta_tv/status/1700068034302427471

The discovery of drone debris on Romanian territory this week has left some local residents fearing that the war in neighboring Ukraine could spread into their country, as Russian forces bombard Ukrainian ports just across the Danube River from NATO-member Romania.

Moscow aims to disrupt Ukraine’s ability to export grain to world markets with a sustained campaign of attacks targeting Ukrainian Danube ports, and has attacked the port of Izmail four times this week, Ukrainian officials say.

Across from Izmail, pieces apparently from a drone were found near the Romanian village of Plauru, Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tilvar said Wednesday. It was unclear if Romanian authorities had determined when or from where the drone was launched, and Tilvar said the debris didn’t pose a threat, but the development has left citizens in the European Union nation feeling uneasy.

Daniela Tanase, 46, who lives in Plauru with her husband and son, told The Associated Press that the drone strikes on Izmail this week have woken her up, and that villagers “are scared” of the persistent Russian attacks.
“In the first phase (of the war) things were calmer, but now it has come to our territory,” she said. But added: “For now, we haven’t thought of leaving the area — we hope it will pass.”

Recently, Reuters reported that Russian defense spending could reach 9.7 trillion RUB in 2023, instead of the planned 5 trillion. In the first half of 2023, I estimate defense spending at ~4 trillion, based on official budget data.

Overall, Russians still say they are behind their military - but the key thing is the trend, a steady reduction in support since the start of the war. This suggests... 1/
i. That the regime's toxic and bellicose propaganda - which has only escalated - is not getting traction in society;
ii. that a sense of the realities of the war are spreading, despite censorship etc;
iii. that people don't believe the govt.
All positive developments. 2/end

It appears that Russian forces continue to suffer high attrition rates as a result of costly counterattacks. In past wars of attrition (e.g., WW1), armies had to eventually revise their counterattack doctrines because of such high loss rates to preserve combat power.
One incentive for ongoing Russian counterattacks are the relatively small-sized Ukrainian breaches (platoon/company-sized elements) that have been happening in past months making the 🇺🇦 defense of recently seized 🇷🇺 positions often tenuous without massive artillery support.
The latter is part of the reason for Ukraine's huge artillery expenditure. One major 🇺🇦challenge will remain to expand the recent breaches & neutralize Russian ATGMs as well as other anti-tank capabilities to mass some mechanized elements for deeper operations.

As Ukraine’s counteroffensive makes progress, Russian forces are bolstering defensive lines constructed earlier in the year.

For example, a new line of dragon’s teeth was recently added to existing Russian fortifications near Romanivske (Zaporizhzhia oblast).

Vladimir Putin’s “gangster”-like nuclear threats require Nato to adopt a much more aggressive response, including flying more aircraft with nuclear weapons, the chief of the general staff of the Polish armed forces urged on Tuesday.

Gen Rajmund Andrzejczak also said he did not think North Korea would be preparing to sell weapons to Russia without the agreement of China.

“I don’t believe North Korea is strong enough or so free to make such an offer, so maybe it is testing our determination, attention and political will, but what is even more important is what China says about this than the North Korean leadership.”

Washington briefed this week that it believed Putin was preparing to buy weapons from Pyongyang.

Andrzejczak also predicted that Russia would try to create a crisis in next month’s Polish election but gave no details in public. He warned that Russia was on a permanent war footing and was “very much active in Poland, looking for some gaps in the system, trying to interfere in the media”.

Andrzejczak also warned that if Ukraine lost the war and Belarus went further into Russia’s orbit, Poland would find that limiting defence spending to 5% of its gross domestic product and a standing army of 300,000-strong would not be enough. “If we lose credibility as Nato, as a civilisation, China is watching, so this is a big game,” he said.

After a drop in 2022, Russian imports of critical components, from simple transistors—the building blocks of electronics—to microchips and more specialized microprocessors, have reverted to levels commensurate with what we saw before the war. Moreover, a staggering 98 percent of these components are routed through third countries, compared to 54 percent the year prior, often manifesting in military equipment ranging from Kalibr missiles to T-72 tanks.
Companies like Intel suspended direct shipments to Russia early into the war in a wave of business departures, but they did little to prevent their products from being reexported to Russia through third countries. Texas Instruments shipped 36 shipments directly to Russia, with six additional shipments by one of its authorized distributors, in late February and early March of last year. But Reuters found out about almost 1,300 more shipments made by intermediaries. It is notionally legal—though morally abhorrent—for the intermediaries to reexport components outside of sanctions purview.

China, too, emerges as a linchpin in this convoluted network, accounting for more than 87 percent of Russia’s semiconductor imports in Q4 2022, a staggering leap from 33 percent in the same period in 2021. Yet over half of these components are not even Chinese-made, but rather rerouted through Hong Kong and mainland China-based intermediaries—shell companies such as Agu Information Technology, established only in 2022, shipped over $18 million worth of chips to Russia. Other shell companies, some involving Russian nationals in their establishment, sell to equally obscure importers; some are based in areas near Moscow, while others had no prior business activity before the war. It’s notable that exports of U.S. chips from Hong Kong and China to Russia increased tenfold comparing a pre-invasion period in 2021 to post-invasion period in 2022, reaching about $570 million that year, according to a Nikkei Asia report.
Hong Kong’s status as a transshipment port has contributed to volumes of dual-use items getting into Russian hands. It is notoriously hard to detect from high-level trade data because it requires visibility throughout multiple stages of the supply chain. Given China’s open defiance of Western sanctions, it is hard for export control officials to conduct pre-shipment screenings of said items.

Still, the challenges facing the Ukrainian military stem from more than its own actions and decisions and those of its Western allies and partners. They also reflect Russia’s changing behavior. For the first six to nine months of the conflict, the Kremlin seemed not to learn from its mistakes. But in the time since, the Russian armed forces have been improving their battlefield tactics—albeit slowly and at great cost in lives and resources. They have learned how to target Ukrainian units and weapons with more efficacy and how to better protect their own command systems. As a result, Russia has been better able to leverage its numerical and firepower advantages, turning what many had hoped would be a swift offensive push into a sluggish, brutal, and tough fight.

But as battered and inefficient as it is, Russia’s military is still capable of learning and adapting. This process has been slow, painful, expensive, and cumbersome—but it is happening, and it is showing results. Consider, for instance, how Russia has revitalized its electronic warfare capabilities. For more than a decade, Moscow had been modernizing these systems, which it used to great effect in Syria and in its initial, 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine. Yet after Russia deployed them against Ukraine’s ground-based air defense systems in the first two days of its February 2022 invasion, these systems and capabilities essentially went missing in action. It is not clear exactly why Russia failed to capitalize on this seeming advantage, but experts pointed to Moscow’s broader failure to plan for the invasion, the Russian military’s poor coordination, and the fact that it would severely disrupt its own communications by using electronic jammers.

But when the war shifted to the Donbas late in the spring of 2022, Russia began ramping up its use of electronic warfare systems. It deployed about ten electronic warfare complexes—collections of systems used to jam an enemy’s communications, disrupt its navigation systems, and knock out its radars—for every 12.4 miles of the frontline. Over time, that ratio has fallen—with approximately one major system now covering approximately every six miles of the front, with additional electronic warfare assets deployed as needed to reinforce its units.
These systems still have problems, including relatively limited coverage and an inability to avoid affecting one another. But on the whole, they have proved tremendously valuable, helping Russia degrade Ukraine’s communications, navigation, and intelligence-gathering capabilities; take down Ukrainian aircraft and drones; and cause Ukrainian precision-guided munitions to miss their targets. Russia has also used them to block Ukrainian drones from transmitting targeting information, to augment Russian air defense networks and capabilities, and to intercept and decrypt Ukrainian military communications. And thus far, Ukraine has had only limited success countering these enhanced Russian capabilities.

Just as it resurrected its electronic warfare assets, the Russian military has reconstituted its command-and-control infrastructure and processes, which were devastated by U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and other Ukrainian long-range precision missiles over the summer of 2022. In the process, Russia has made a number of relatively rudimentary but successful overall changes, including pulling its command headquarters out of range of Ukrainian surface-to-air missiles, placing its forward command posts farther below ground and behind heavily defended positions, and fortifying these posts with concrete. Russia has also found ways to ensure that communications between command posts and military units are more efficient and secure, including by laying out field cables and using safer radio communications. But communications at the battalion level and downward are still often unencrypted, and given their limited training, Russian soldiers frequently communicate sensitive information through unsecure channels.
Terrible: https://twitter.com/NOELreports/status/1700181700167274816

When I hear claims that the counter-offensive becomes impossible or very difficult after the summer ends, it's essential to remind: 2022 Kherson counter-offensive started on August 29th and concluded in November, resulting in the liberation of Kherson and the entire right bank.

To clarify any confusion, this discussion specifically focuses on weather conditions. The key elements that determine the outcome are the availability of ammunition, reserves, and the scale of continued supplies from the West.

Vadym Skybytskyi, a Ukrainian intelligence official, said last week Moscow could start using more Shaheds alongside missiles to confuse Ukraine’s air defences by presenting an array of targets.
Russian attacks on energy infrastructure could begin in late September or early October, he said.
But most of last winter's damage has been repaired and Kyiv has bolstered its air defences, including with newly donated German-made Gepard systems - sleek green turrets mounted onto the chassis of a battle tank.
The military says one such system has shot down five Shaheds since its first use a month ago - a 100% success rate.
"We understand that the enemy has not quit his criminal intentions to hit critical infrastructure facilities and cause damage to Ukraine and its economy," General Serhiy Naiev, commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces, told Reuters in the northern region of Zhytomyr.
"We had fewer (systems) last winter. Now we have been given more, and the effectiveness will be better," he said while visiting the region to hand out medals.

Ukraine appears to have prepared well for more strikes by drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), but their gradually increasing numbers could pose a problem, said Samuel Bendett, Senior Adjunct Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
"There will be more of these UAVs in the air, but probably not much more than flying now, since Russia is still a long way from its intended goal to manufacture thousands of these drones," Bendett said of the coming months.
Ukraine's president said last month Russia had launched nearly 2,000 Shaheds during the war.
The Shaheds are estimated by military analysts to cost about $20,000 each, but the Western-supplied air defence missiles Kyiv used last winter cost many times more.
Naiev said one round fired by Gepard flak guns costs less than $1,000, making them more cost-effective.
Each Gepard has radar with an effective radius of 12 km (7.5 miles). Ukraine does not have enough to cover all its territory but Naiev said large-calibre machine guns such as the U.S.-made M2 Browning helped fill the gaps.
Anton, a crewman in the Gepard which hit five Shaheds last month, spoke of the excitement when the crew shot down drones during two night attacks in August.
"Adrenaline, emotional overload... you can't convey it with words," he said. "We are not frightened. It drives us on to work (hard) and destroy targets in the Ukrainian sky."

RAF aircraft are protecting cargo vessels carrying grain from Ukraine, following Russian attacks, Downing Street has revealed.
In recent weeks, British aircraft have been conducting patrols over the Black Sea to deter Russia from carrying out strikes on civilian vessels.
The Ministry of Defence stepped up its activity in the area after Moscow began attacking grain infrastructure in July, when it scrapped a deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports.
Grain from the Black Sea region is considered vital for staving off hunger in lower-income countries. Russia said it had pulled out of the deal because Ukraine refused to reopen an ammonia pipeline that runs from central Russia to the Black Sea.
Downing Street said: “We will use our intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to monitor Russian activity in the Black Sea … As part of these surveillance operations, RAF aircraft are conducting flights over the area to deter Russia from carrying out illegal strikes against civilian vessels transporting grain.”
The disclosure came as the Government announced that the UK will host an international food security summit in November “to tackle the causes of food insecurity and malnutrition.”

The Biden administration is likely to send Ukraine long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, to help in its fight to repel the Russian invasion of its territory, according to U.S. officials.

"They are coming," said one official who had access to security assistance plans. The official noted that, as always, such plans are subject to change until officially announced.

A second official said the missiles are "on the table" and likely to be included in an upcoming security assistance package, adding that a final decision has not been made. It could be months before Ukraine receives the missiles, according to the official.

With a range of up to 190 miles, depending on the version, deploying ATACMS could allow Ukraine to reach targets nearly four times further away than with the currently-provided rockets for its U.S.-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and M270 multiple-launch rocket systems.

With Ukrainian forces struggling to break through heavily-defended Russian lines more than expected in its ongoing counteroffensive, political pressure in Washington over sending military aid has increased -- along with a desire to see more progress on the battlefield.

A surprising discovery could also ease the administration's choice to send the weapons: The U.S. has found it has more ATACMS in its inventory than originally assessed, the two officials told ABC News.

The serviceability of the rediscovered stockpile is not yet clear, nor which specific type of missiles it contains. ATACMS come in several forms, from missiles with large high-explosive warheads, to anti-personnel cluster-munition versions that drop hundreds of bomblets on targets.

In addition to giving Ukrainian crews much greater standoff distance when striking Russian positions -- making it more difficult for the Russians to fire back -- ATACMS could also help Ukraine more easily reach targets in Crimea.

"I think specific targets in Crimea would be command and control, logistics hubs -- especially ammunition facilities -- and air bases," said Mick Mulroy, an ABC News contributor who served as a CIA officer and deputy assistant secretary of defense.

The U.S. has committed more than $43.7 billion in security aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion in February 2022.

Good story/analysis on the Shahed drone.

Since they were first documented on September 13th last year, nearly 2,000 Shaheds have been launched into Ukrainian territory by Russian forces, according to an analysis of publicly available data by Airwars. By tracking every reported launch, patterns in their usage and targets emerged - helping build a better picture of how Russian forces have turned a cheap suicide drone into a vital component of their war.

Airwars' research, in partnership with Der Spiegel, found that while the Shahed first emerged as part of the Russian arsenal a year ago, the tempo and intensity of attacks across Ukraine has escalated significantly since spring 2023. The success of the Shahed has led to expectations that countries and militant groups around the world will develop equivalent systems, potentially making long-range cross border attacks far easier in conflicts worldwide.

“Shahed strikes have become a relatively cheap way for the Russian military to stress Ukrainian defences and to force the Ukrainian military to expend valuable ammunition shooting them down,” explained Samuel Bendett, a specialist in Russian studies at the Center for Naval Analyses.

How Russia learned from mistakes to slow Ukraine’s counteroffensive

Russia’s military suffered great losses amid chaotic advances last year, with some units wiped out almost entirely, according to U.S. assessments.
But it has been able to recuperate, despite signs of low morale and disorder in the upper echelons of military leadership following a June mutiny by Wagner Group mercenaries. The depleted ranks have been replenished, through a “partial mobilization” that called up hundreds of thousands of men, and by recruitment from prisons, a technique adapted from Wagner.
Britain’s Defense Ministry estimated in the spring that Russia could field roughly the same number of troops it did at the start of the invasion: some 200,000, divided among 70 combat regiments and brigades, organized under five administrative “districts,” defending front lines that stretch some 600 miles.
Roughly half of Russia’s forces are massed in the northeast, according to recent Ukrainian estimates, far from the center of the counteroffensive.

Traditional military theory suggests that an advancing force would need at least three times the number of soldiers defending to make gains.
“Everyone uses that number and everyone hates it,” said Mark Cancian, a retired Marine officer and defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “But in a situation like this with prepared defenses, you need more than three to one. It could be six to one, 10 to one.”

Russian losses have been spread unevenly across its military: While Moscow threw some units or entire districts into the fray, it held others back. Russia’s Western Military District, designed as the country’s advanced force against NATO adversaries, suffered massively early in the war.
Units from that district, including the once highly regarded 1st Guards Tank Army and the Sixth Combined Army, are involved in the advance on Kupyansk, said Karolina Hird, a Russia analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think thank. The depleted units appear to have been reconstituted with conscripts.
“They’re barely a shell of what they used to be,” Hird said, adding that the 1st Guards had retreated so quickly last year that they became the “largest tank donor to the Ukrainian army.”
However, Russia’s Southern Military District, which has assumed primary responsibility for defending occupied territory in the strategically important Zaporizhzhia region, was held in reserve earlier in the war and was able to meet Ukraine’s counteroffensive with fresh but experienced forces.
These soldiers spent months “digging in, preparing for the exact type of defensive operations” they are conducting, Hird said.
The Southern Military District, responsible within Russia for territory bordering Ukraine and Georgia, has been a “breeding ground” for innovation and has performed better than other districts, said Charles Bartles, a Russia analyst with the Foreign Military Studies Office, a research center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Russia has largely sent motor rifle brigades — which comprise around 8,000 infantry troops, along with heavy weaponry such as tanks and artillery — to defend its front lines in the south. Its defense mixes inexperienced units made up of released convicts with more elite ones from the Russian navy and Spetsnaz, or special forces, according to open-source analysts.
The 64th Motor Rifle Brigade, part of the 35th Army from the Eastern Military District, has been reported in the first line of defenses near Orikhiv. The brigade, linked to apparent war crimes in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha at the start of the war, was given an honorary title by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year for “mass heroism and bravery.”
Russia uses special forces units to plug in as fast reinforcements, according to the open-source intelligence group Black Bird. Some soldiers from these groups, who report to Russian military intelligence, were airlifted to the front line during the beginning of the counteroffensive.
Among them: The 22nd Separate Spetsnaz Brigade, described in leaked U.S. military documents as having suffered high casualties, an attrition rate up to 95 percent, earlier in the war, in part because of Russia’s reliance on it for front-line operations. It is unclear how it could be back in even partial action so quickly — Spetsnaz units typically require years of training.

In Zaporizhzhia, the southern district and the center of the counteroffensive, occupying troops have not made gains in a year. Instead, they spent months building layered fortifications.
The approach represents a return to a traditional precept of Russian military thinking: a focus on training for defensive operations out of fear of an attack from the West.
“Preparing these kinds of defensive positions is something that commanders understand and have had drilled into their head since they were cadets,” said Dara Massicot, a Russian military analyst at the Rand Corp., a U.S. think tank.

Moscow could be playing an attritional waiting game, banking on depleting Ukraine’s ranks or for its backers to lose faith. However, some Ukrainian officials argue that Russia hasn’t given up on taking land and that Kupyansk is just the start.
“We clearly understand that the enemy has not abandoned his painful hopes of occupation of the entire region,” said Oleh Synyehubov, the governor of Kharkiv.
Some pro-Russian military figures seem to agree. Alexander Khodakovsky, a Kremlin-backed commander in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, wrote in a widely shared Telegram post last month: “You can’t win in defense.”

Modern war zones are awash in digital communication, requiring fast, secure internet. In Ukraine, Starlink’s data stream helps pipe in drone feeds from across the battlefield, allowing commanders to view enemy forces in real time and coordinate artillery strikes much faster than relaying the same information over radios.
There are some 42,000 Starlink terminals in Ukraine, officials have said, which provide military, government and civilian communications as Russia relentlessly attacks civilian infrastructure. The terminals are also playing an increasingly important role in Ukraine’s counteroffensive, giving soldiers portable communication options in rural areas along the southern front that are either too remote or where cellular towers have been damaged and destroyed.
The terminals also provide connectivity for smartphones and tablets, which do everything from helping soldiers stay updated in group chats to running apps that help compute targeting information for howitzer batteries. Soldiers often use the same Starlink-connected devices to communicate with loved ones back home or abroad and to upload battlefield videos onto social media.

In a recent operation in the northeast Luhansk region near Russian lines, a Starlink terminal pumped WiFi data for a three-man attack drone team, allowing the pilot to monitor a group chat providing real-time updates on enemy locations and movements. Victor Stelmakh, the head of an attack drone unit in the 68th Jaeger Brigade, used that information to deploy several drones and drop grenades on enemy positions. The strikes, which were observed by Washington Post reporters, wounded several Russian soldiers.

Ukrainian troops have integrated Starlink into every corner of the conflict, relying on the service for virtually any task that requires digital communication.
An air reconnaissance soldier with the call sign Labrador, using the gaming term “IMBA,” or imbalance, said Starlink offers a significant advantage over Russian capabilities. Multiple drone feeds on a single screen provide commanders and scouts with situational awareness, Labrador said. Surveillance drones watching artillery fire can send fast and precise impact locations, he said, allowing howitzer crews to quickly adjust their aim and hit a target.
Labrador, as other soldiers, spoke on the condition that he be identified only by his call sign in keeping with Ukrainian military rules.
Losing Starlink, he said, would force Ukraine to fall back on more traditional communications such as radio or other inferior alternatives. It could be done, he said, but it would require difficult trade-offs. For instance, he said, where digital communication is used between trenches, soldiers might have to leave relative safety to pass on information orally.
“These are additional risks,” he said. “It can be said that the lack of an alternative to Starlink will increase the level of mortality and injuries.”
Internet access through Starlink has also helped soldiers when they need to access training manuals and get more information about the advanced weapons and equipment they have received from the West, said Rusyn, the deputy commander for the Carpathian Sich 49th infantry battalion.
“If they stopped working at some point, it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” Rusyn said, “but it would significantly worsen our situation at the front, our effectiveness.”

President Zelensky has said Ukraine’s fight against invading Russian forces is losing pace as it becomes harder to acquire arms and secure sanctions on Moscow.
“The war is slowing down,” he said. “We recognise this fact. All processes are becoming more complicated and slower: from sanctions to the provision of weapons.
“When some partners say, ‘So what about the counteroffensive, when will the next step be?’ My answer is that today our steps are probably faster than new sanctions packages.”
Kyiv has repeatedly pleaded for the West to increase or speed up supplies of tanks, aircraft and other hardware as Ukrainian troops attempt to reclaim territory occupied by Russia.
Speaking during a panel discussion at a conference in Kyiv, Zelensky said that Ukraine needed specific equipment, in particular modern fighter jets, to accelerate its advance.
“There are specific square kilometres of our land, and each liberated metre is a human life. The longer it takes, the more people suffer,” he said.
“What is the impact of weapons? Concrete and direct, without abstractions and rhetoric. There is a specific impact of a specific weapon. The more powerful and long-range it is, the faster the counteroffensive is, the faster the restoration of our territory is. If we are not in the sky and Russia is, they stop us from the sky. They stop our counteroffensive.”

Good read from Mick Ryan

On the operation a couple weeks ago that took out a S-400 in Crimea.

Trent Maul, director of analysis for America’s Defence Intelligence Agency, told The Economist that he believes Ukraine now has a “realistic possibility . . . of breaking the remaining Russian lines by the end of the year”.
A Ukrainian expert was much more cautious, though, warning with some exasperation that “the West keeps expecting too much and then criticising us when we don’t live up to their expectations. War doesn’t follow a neat path to victory.” She is right: this is real progress, but measuring it is complex.

It is tempting to try to judge the state of the war simply by movement on a map, on how far the advance has moved in a day. It is also misleading. Before the recent advance, Ukraine seemed all but stalled. In fact, it was painstakingly and methodically clearing paths through dense Russian minefields and identifying the best lines of attack. A lack of movement is not the same as a lack of progress.
Conversely, a Russian retreat could be a rout or simply a withdrawal to more defensible positions, all the better to hold the overall line. A US officer who monitors the conflict on a daily basis used a sporting metaphor, likening it to a bowler stepping back to give himself a better run. As a result, he admitted he despaired of analyses which depended on hourly or daily locations of respective forces: “It’s fluid, dynamic; a probe makes some progress, then withdraws under fire, a defending force shifts position . . . You can’t gauge the process of the war on this micro-scale.”
Capturing territory is at once irrelevant and crucial. It is irrelevant in that the real goal of warfare is to break the enemy’s capacity to fight. But it is crucial because Kyiv’s ultimate aim is to liberate all the occupied territories, and cutting the Russian supply lines along the “land bridge” to Crimea would advance that goal by directly challenging and humiliating President Putin.

The Ukrainians have pushed some 18 miles into Russian-held territory. If they can advance perhaps ten miles more, their long-range artillery and rockets can hit those supply lines. It will not be enough to strangle Crimea, but will massively complicate the Russians’ operations and force them to rely more on the Kerch Bridge and shipping, all of which has proven vulnerable.
If they cannot get this far, though, then for all their progress they may end up watching the Russians simply build yet more defensive lines over the winter.

Russia is already buying missiles and drones from Iran, and the American government claims that Vladimir Putin will this month meet his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un, to discuss deeper defence-industrial co-operation. Pyongyang has extensive production capacity of its own, and could also be used as a front for China to step up its assistance to Russia without directly courting western sanctions. Already Beijing is allowing so-called dual-use technologies, with both civil and military applications, to be exported to Russia, but for overtly lethal equipment such as artillery shells, it may prefer to use Pyongyang as a conduit.
There is a certain symmetry to this, because South Korea has largely hung back from providing Kyiv with direct lethal aid, but has been selling hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds to the US, so the Americans can send comparable amounts to Ukraine.

Already, what reserves that can be mustered are being rushed to repel the Ukrainian breakthrough. Every action has its reaction, and one British defence analyst worried that “if Putin is panicked, then he may escalate”. In particular, this makes it almost certain he will soon launch a new mobilisation wave, meaning that next year Ukraine may be facing 200,000-300,000 fresh Russian troops.

All this said, Ukraine is winning. Unfortunately for Kyiv, as one Ukrainian expert put it: “We can win for a long time without actually achieving victory.” There is no sign that Russian forces are about to break, and converting battlefield success to any kind of lasting peace remains an intractable problem.
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During its summer counteroffensive, Ukraine has been using British and French long-range missiles, as well as US shorter-range Himars guided missiles to strike Russian logistics, weapons stores and command posts.
ATACMS have an advantage over the UK Storm Shadow and French Scalp missiles in that they can be fired from Himars launchers rather than Ukraine’s ageing Soviet-era fighter jets.

Some video of comments from General Milley: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gen-ma...ukraine/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab8c&linkId=234297130

Some 90% of Ukrainians surveyed by a polling institute believe that Kyiv can recapture all of the Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia, with only 6% believing it is not possible.

The survey, conducted for German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, also revealed that 83% of the respondents wanted another counteroffensive next year, should this year's offensive fail to achieve sufficient success.

Only 30% of the respondents were open to direct negotiations with Russia, whereas 63% rejected them.

Ukrainian forces made confirmed advances in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and made claimed advances south of Bakhmut on September 9. Geolocated footage published on September 9 shows that Ukrainian forces advanced northwest of Novomayorske (18km southeast of Velyka Novosilka) along the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border, where Russian sources claim fighting has intensified in recent days.[1] Additional geolocated footage published on September 9 shows that Ukrainian forces also advanced northeast and east of Novoprokopivka (13km south of Orikhiv) and west of Verbove (20km southeast of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhia Oblast.[2] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified successes south of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv).[3] A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces forced Russian forces to withdraw from Andriivka (9km southwest of Bakhmut), and another prominent milblogger claimed that Andriivka is now a contested “gray zone.”[4] Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces also achieved unspecified success south of Klishchiivka.[5]

Russia’s war in Ukraine is increasingly constraining Russian local and regional politics, with even the minimal pre-war competition suppressed and regional governments increasingly focused on their ability to generate resources for the war. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)’s Tatar-Bashkir service Idel Realii posted an interview on September 8 with Russian political scientist Dmitry Loboyko regarding “the peculiarities of election campaigns during the war.”[7] Loboyko stated that this election season is one of the most “uncompetitive” in Russian history and that it particularly lacks opposition alternatives, especially as people are increasingly voting with the mindset that the war in Ukraine may last a year, five years, or even ten years.[8] Loboyko also noted that Russian federal subjects (regions) are competing for resources on the basis of how many military personnel each region was able to mobilize for the war, with the insinuation that the federal government allocates more resources to regions that mobilized more personnel, thereby increasing inter-regional competition.[9] Loboyko’s insights suggest that the war in Ukraine, and its continued drain on Russian regions, has contributed to a more muted political atmosphere within Russia. ISW has previously observed that Russian officials, particularly those affiliated with the leading United Russia party, appear concerned with the impacts the war will have on the electorate during local and regional elections, and the muted political atmosphere outlined by Loboyko aligns with these observations.[10] Various Russian insider sources additionally reported on September 9 that Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly backed Nizhny Novgorod Governor Gleb Nitkin, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, and Smolensk Governor Vasily Anokhin in the regional elections.[11] The insider sources suggested that the Kremlin is invested in publicly backing the infrastructure and connectivity projects that these regional leaders espouse.[12] As the war continues, Russian officials will likely continue to have to balance the suppression of domestic political opposition with the need to posture the government as being actively involved in ameliorating domestic matters.

Kyiv’s military leaders say they could have Ukrainian pilots flying F-16s in combat as early as this winter, a more optimistic timeline than previous estimates, and one that could give Ukrainian forces a significant new capability for next year’s fight.
Based on initial assessments, Ukrainian officials now believe that with American training expected to begin this month or next, a handful of Ukrainian fighter pilots could be ready to go as early as February, Ukrainian and U.S. officials said. The U.S. could train experienced, English-proficient Ukrainian pilots in as little as five months, a group of likely fewer than 10 pilots for now, according to Ukrainian assessments.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine has achieved air superiority because each side has enough surface-to-air missiles to thwart the other’s jets. The addition of the American F-16s, older but relatively sophisticated jet fighters, could give the Ukrainians more effective capability to fight Russian jets and attack targets on the ground.

Dozens of Ukrainian pilots are set to begin English-language training at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio within weeks. Pilots who already speak English will go directly to flight training at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Ariz., home of the 162nd Wing, a U.S. defense official said.

Ben Hodges, a retired commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, said officials are overly concerned with the Ukrainians’ English proficiency. He cited a conversation with a senior Air Force official who had estimated to him in private that the flight training could be completed in as little as three months, two months faster than even the Ukrainians believe it could occur.
“They need to fly a plane, they don’t need to be able to read Shakespeare,” he said.
U.S. defense officials said that training is only one of many obstacles preventing the F-16s from entering the war.
Ukrainian pilots currently are flying Soviet-era MiG and Sukhoi jets to attack Russian ground targets and defend Ukraine’s airspace. It is unclear how many experienced pilots Kyiv is willing to take away from the battlefield to train in Europe and the U.S.
An F-16 requires roughly 16 hours of maintenance for every hour in the air, and U.S. officials have warned that finding and training maintenance crews—who also will need to speak English—could be more challenging than preparing the pilots.
A smaller American squadron consists of roughly a dozen jets, 60 pilots and more than 100 people working to maintain the aircraft.

"Russia broke their lives forever."

In March 2022, I interviewed four Ukrainians who'd managed to escape Russia's massacre of Mariupol.

Some of their words are below.

Stas, 29:

"Relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors — these people are buried in their yards and in mass graves. Some have to be left just on the street. They have remained lying outside in common areas for the entire time of the war."

"We wanted to bury our friend, but the hospitals wouldn’t accept any bodies. The morgues were overflowing, the bodies of people were lying in the street or in supermarket baskets. We wanted the best for our friend. Therefore, we were able to leave his body in one of the pits at a service station and covered him with sand. It was too dangerous to go to the burial place outside of the city."

"The Russians do not spare anyone. They shoot at schools, maternity hospitals, universities. They use delayed-action bombs on ordinary residential buildings to reach the basements where people are hiding. They do not follow any rules, neither military nor moral. They know exactly where they are shooting, and what they are doing."

"This is the genocide of the Ukrainian people. We will never forgive or forget what Russia has done."

Karina, 28:

"Bodies were everywhere. Some people managed to bury their neighbors under explosions, some simply sought shelter from the frequent airstrikes. It all started with artillery, Grad rocket attacks — after that airstrikes, which are repeated every two to three minutes. And street fights were added."

"This is the genocide of the Ukrainian people."

Tymur, 37:

"What the Russians call a 'special operation' is a terrible war in Ukraine and Russia is the aggressor and initiator of hostilities [...] they themselves drop bombs on Ukrainian maternity hospitals, schools, kindergartens, and hospitals — on ordinary civilians."

"We decided that we can no longer stay — this is direct death. We decided to try to get out. We made it. But hundreds of thousands of Mariupol residents remained there, under the rubble, under incessant airstrikes, hungry and frozen."

Diana, 28:

"People in Mariupol are now dying not only from airstrikes, but also from hunger and thirst. It used to be possible to draw water from wells, but they were also bombed. Those wells that remained intact are now outside the access zone of residents. Because airstrikes happen every two to four minutes, people are simply too afraid to look for water, which is so needed right now."

"The corpses are just lying on the streets. There is no possibility for their burial, since you can be killed, too, right beside the bodies."

"Now it is difficult to count the victims and those who died under the rubble. Since there is no way to clear this rubble, people are buried alive."

"Those people who managed to evacuate from Mariupol are difficult to talk to now. People stutter, they have shell shock and tremors. Russia broke their lives forever."

Full story: https://coffeeordie.com/mariupol-survivors-stories

Some video of a kamikaze drone attacking Russian truck: https://twitter.com/front_ukrainian/status/1700917168899068138

German general: https://twitter.com/deaidua/status/1700890207543755208

Brigadier General Christian Freuding gives a clear message on his visit to Ukraine: We are ready and prepared for a long-lasting war. The aid to Ukraine is already financially secured until 2032!

A few insights from POWs of the 76th division: Two regiments suffered losses, necessitating the withdrawal of entire companies for refitting. They criticized incompetent leadership, leading to continuous casualties from artillery and drones. They called it a real hell.

Some video of cluster ammunition: https://twitter.com/Tendar/status/1700872844421296148

Germany’s defence procurement chief has said her agency is “unleashing” itself from the shackles of bureaucracy as Europe’s largest nation strives to overhaul its neglected armed forces in response to the Ukraine war.
Annette Lehnigk-Emden, who was appointed in April to lead the directorate charged with spending €100bn on upgrading military equipment, said she aimed to deliver a dramatic “cultural change” to hasten the process of buying weapons and ammunition.
Lehnigk-Emden, whose agency has a central role in enacting Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s promise of a “sea change” in Germany’s approach to security and defence following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, said her agency was pushing back against excessive regulation and complex requests from the military.
The shift, she told the Financial Times, was about “encouraging people to become courageous, to make decisions . . . and make projects go faster” at all levels of the sprawling 11,000-strong organisation. “Suddenly projects that were planned for 2028 can suddenly be delivered in 2025 or 2026.”

Russian assassin Vadim Krasikov, riding a bicycle, followed his target to a crowded children’s playground at lunchtime, a popular summer spot in a central-city park filled with families and workers.
As the man entered Tiergarten park, Krasikov pedaled close behind. Not far from the swings, he pulled a pistol from a rucksack and shot him in the back, leaving his victim, a former Chechen insurgent leader, slumped on the ground. Krasikov got off his bike and calmly fired twice into the man’s head, watched by children and parents, witnesses said during a court trial that ended in his conviction.
The 2019 murder of Zemlikhan Khangoshvili, a man who Moscow alleged led a 2004 attack in Russia, was determined by a German court to be an intentionally brutal message by Russia to its enemies abroad: Even if you seek refuge in the West, we will hunt you down.

Moscow has since brought up Krasikov’s case in prisoner-swap negotiations, according to Western officials. The officials said Krasikov is central to U.S. efforts to win the release of people held by Russia, possibly including U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. Gershkovich, a 31-year-old U.S. citizen, was detained on March 29 by the FSB while he was on a reporting assignment. He is being held on a charge of espionage, which Gershkovich, the Journal and U.S. officials deny.
A top Western official involved in hostage diplomacy with Russia said Putin was interested in trading only for Krasikov. Putin has sought the return of agents arrested during other clandestine operations abroad. In 2004, he thanked the Emir of Qatar for returning two men convicted there of planting a car bomb that killed a fugitive Chechen rebel leader. Russia denied responsibility for the killing.
Officials in several countries said a multilateral deal to swap Russian detainees in Western countries for Western citizens held in Russia, as well as imprisoned dissidents such as Alexei Navalny, was possible.

Ukraine’s military intelligence says it has regained control of the so-called “Boiko towers,” i.e. gas rigs on the Black Sea that were occupied by Russia during Crimea annexation in 2014.

South Korean media report that a North Korean train presumably carrying leader Kim Jong Un has departed for Russia

As Ukraine pushes south into occupied territory, Russian forces are bolstering defenses built in late 2022 and early 2023.

This updated map shows many of Russia's new defenses and links each to satellite imagery. (1/5)

Mark Milley: "Our intelligence pipes to Ukraine are quite open, for sure. And of course, the CIA and interagency, NSA, all those guys … There's pretty open pipes on intel to Ukraine."

To verify official reports about ongoing progress in the Novoprokopivka area, I conducted additional sat imagery analysis. The imagery captured on 10.09.2023 reveals new scorch marks, suggesting that the fire has extended further south, a good indication of the UAF progress

A Russian FSB agent has been arrested by Ukrainian security services (SBU).

In a statement, the SBU said the man "was preparing new Russian air attacks on critical infrastructure in the capital".

The man, who served in the Ukrainian national guard, was apparently recruited by the FSB at the start of this year, and took a particular interest in identifying thermal power plants in the capital, the SBU claims.

"The enemy was also interested in information about the technical condition of the power facilities and the level of their protection."

A search of the man's house found evidence he was working for the FSB on a computer and mobile phone, the SBU said, and he now faces life imprisonment if found guilty.

Russia is aiming to sign up around 420,000 contracted personnel by the end of the year amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to the UK's Ministry of Defence.

In its daily intelligence update, the MoD noted the comments made by senior Russian security council official Dmitry Medvedev over the weekend - where he said 280,000 had already been recruited.

We've been bringing you regular updates on tweaks to laws, amendments to statutes and new presidential orders that have all been directed at allowing Russia to recruit more soldiers for its "special military operation".

The MoD notes the heavy conscriptions in Russia is leading to massive gaps in industry, while the IT sector has been taking "steps to preserve the workforce".

"This shows that mobilisation and conscription within Russia has worsened non-defence workforce shortages. In the run-up to the Russian presidential elections scheduled for March 2024, Russian authorities will likely seek to avoid further unpopular mobilisations," the MoD said.

Ukraine reported on Monday its troops had regained more territory on the eastern and southern fronts in its military counteroffensive against Russian forces.
Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said Kyiv's forces had retaken close to 2 square km (0.77 square mile) of land in the past week around the shattered eastern city of Bakhmut, which was captured by Russian troops in May after months of gruelling fighting.
Maliar told Ukrainian television that Ukrainian forces captured part of the village of Opytne south of the city of Avdiivka and had "partial success" near the village of Novomaiorske in the eastern Donetsk region.
"There was movement near Opytne; (Ukrainian) defence forces captured part of this settlement," Maliar said.
She also reported "some success" near Andriivka and Klishchiivka, a village on heights south of Bakhmut seen as critical to securing control of the city.
Kyiv's troops have liberated 49 square km near Bakhmut since the start of the three-month-old counteroffensive, Maliar said.
In the south, where Ukrainian forces are trying to advance toward the Sea of Azov in a drive that is intended to split Russian forces, Maliar said Kyiv had retaken 1.5 square km in the past week.
Maliar added that Ukrainian forces had successes south of the villages of Robotyne and west of Verbove in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Media reports suggest Russia is considering resuming its production of the T-80 tank model.

The Soviet-era T-80 was largely discontinued in favor of the T-90. No details were given regarding when such resumption would kick off.

Russia has lost massive amounts of military equipment and weapons in the months since its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Investigative group Oryx estimates Moscow lost over 2,000 tanks.

Ukrainian forces continued to advance south of Robotyne in western Zaporizhia Oblast and reportedly advanced near Bakhmut on September 10. Geolocated footage posted on September 10 shows that Ukrainian forces have advanced east of Novoprokopivka (18km southeast of Orikhiv).[1] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun noted that Ukrainian forces continue to advance near Robotyne (12km south of Orikhiv) and have liberated 1.5 square kilometers of territory in this direction.[2] The Ukrainian General Staff and Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Ilya Yevlash reported that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified success near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) in Donetsk Oblast.[3]

Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Kyrylo Budanov stated on September 10 that Ukrainian forces will continue counteroffensive operations into late 2023.[4] Cold and wet weather will affect but not halt active combat, as it has done in the first 18 months of the war. Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley stated on September 10 that Ukrainian forces probably have 30 to 45 days of “fighting weather” left.[5] Seasonal heavy rains and heavy mud in late autumn will slow ground movements for both sides, and low temperatures impose a variety of logistics challenges. The start of such seasonal weather is variable, however.[6] While weather considerations will affect Ukrainian counteroffensive operations, they will not impose a definite end to them. A hard freeze occurs throughout Ukraine in the winter that makes the ground more conducive to mechanized maneuver warfare, and Ukrainian officials expressed routine interest in exploiting these weather conditions in winter 2022–2023.[7]

Russian military personnel continue to detail persistent problems hindering Russian operations along the frontline in Ukraine. The “Rusich” Sabotage and Reconnaissance Group, a far-right Russian irregular paramilitary unit, published a list of various issues on September 8 that it claims are persistent along the frontline. Rusich claimed that Russian counterbattery range and accuracy are inferior to Ukrainian capabilities and claimed that Russian forces lack laser-guided Krasnopol shells and UAVs to guide them.[8] The Rusich Group also claimed that the Russian Tornado-S multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) is less resistant to electronic warfare (EW) than Ukraine’s US-provided HIMARS systems.[9] The Rusich Group also noted that many Russian personnel buy their own communication technology, making it difficult for different units using different models of technology to communicate with each other.[10] The Rusich Group claimed that Russian forces do not evacuate wounded or dead personnel from frontline areas, and that this lack of evacuations has prompted some Russian personnel to refuse to complete combat tasks.[11] The Rusich Group may be experiencing these problems at a higher intensity and frequency than Russian forces writ large because it is a small and irregular formation, but ISW has routinely observed other Russian units expressing similar issues with counterbattery capabilities, communications, and evacuations.[12]

Army General Sergei Surovikin, the previously dismissed Wagner-affiliated former commander of Russia’s Aerospace Forces (VKS), has reportedly become the head of the Coordination Committee on Air Defense Issues under the Council of Defense Ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Several low-profile and local Russian outlets reported on September 10 that the CIS Council of Defense Ministers unanimously voted on Surovikin’s appointment to head of the air defense committee, and noted that Surovikin will now be responsible for overseeing the function of the joint air defense system of CIS member states.[17] More mainstream and Kremlin-affiliated newswires notably did not report on Surovikin’s new appointment and have not mentioned Surovikin at all since Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed him as VKS commander on August 23.[18] ISW previously assessed that Surovikin’s move to a leadership position with the CIS is consistent with previous patterns of the Russian military leadership shifting disgraced and ineffective commanders to peripheral positions far removed from Ukraine without discharging them from the Russian military entirely.[19]
True to life but without the price tag: The decoy weapons Ukraine wants Russia to destroy

They are created with one single aim in mind: to be destroyed as quickly as possible. And in that, the steelworks company behind them boasts, these decoy weapons are remarkably successful: hundreds have been targeted by Russian forces almost as soon as they were deployed.

Ukrainian D-20 gun-howitzers, American-made M777 howitzers, mortar tubes, air defense radars… the list goes on. If it is deployed and operational in Ukraine, chances are that Metinvest has either copied it, or is in the process of doing so, inside the small hangar that sits, tucked away, on the edge of a vast industrial site in central Ukraine. There you will find an impressive array of replicas of the latest American and European killing technology.
Before the war, the company was Ukraine’s largest metallurgy group but had no involvement in arms manufacture, according to a representative of the company who asked to remain anonymous. In fact, it still doesn’t, as its only foray into the world of weaponry is this side line in decoys, remarkably true to life but equipped with neither the firing range, nor the hefty price tag.

The aim, says the spokesman, is twofold: to save Ukrainian lives and to trick Russians into squandering their own, very expensive, kamikaze drones, shells and missiles.

The idea is that, from the sky, the decoys should look worthy of attack, without spending too much. And that has meant striking a balance in the choice of materials, complementing cheap plywood – which doesn’t give off the right heat signature to trick Russian heat-seeking radars and drones – with enough metal that they should be fooled

Nato is preparing its biggest live joint command exercise since the cold war next year, assembling more than 40,000 troops to practice how the alliance would attempt to repel Russian aggression against one of its members.
The Steadfast Defender exercise comes as part of Nato’s rapid push to transform from crisis response to a war-fighting alliance, prompted by the invasion of Ukraine.
It will start in spring next year and is expected to involve between 500 and 700 air combat missions, more than 50 ships, and about 41,000 troops, Nato officials said. It is designed to model potential manoeuvres against an enemy modelled on a coalition led by Russia, named Occasus for the purposes of the drill.
The exercise is also a first in terms of technical capability, using real world geographical data to create more realistic scenarios for troops.

The German government has commissioned Rheinmetall to supply 40 more Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. Placed in August 2023, the order is worth a high double-digit million-euro amount. Rheinmetall is pressing ahead with work to overhaul these older vehicles and ensure that the latest lot of Marder IFVs can be delivered as per contract starting in 2023.

This order brings the total number of Marder vehicles to be supplied by Rheinmetall to Ukraine to eighty. On 21 March 2023 the company already shipped the first twenty infantry fighting vehicles ordered by the German government for Ukraine. In addition, another twenty Rheinmetall IFVs were ordered in June 2023. These are currently being overhauled and delivered.

Video of the Boiko towers operation: https://twitter.com/Tendar/status/1701167651488165973

After 18 months of full-scale war with Russia, Ukraine faces a threefold problem.
Ukraine’s army is inching forward on the battlefield but is short of firepower, including air power, and well-trained manpower to eject Russia’s occupying army from its east and south.
The West is sticking to its incremental approach to arming Kyiv, and would like it to negotiate a cease-fire eventually.
But even if Russian President Vladimir Putin were open to a deal, he has a long record of reneging on agreements and renewing his quest to put Ukraine back under Moscow’s sway.
The current military and political deadlock looks set to continue until one of those three elements changes.
Ukrainians fear the deadlock plays into Russia’s hands, especially if political fatigue emerges in the West. “The situation is not sustainable,” said Pavlo Klimkin, a former Ukrainian foreign minister.

So far, key Western countries led by the U.S. and Germany have followed a measured approach that seeks to prevent Russia from defeating Ukraine while limiting the risk of escalation into a direct clash with Moscow.
President Biden has defined the U.S. goal as helping Ukraine to attain the strongest possible military position for negotiations to end the war, without saying how strong a position that should be.
The U.S. has given Ukraine potent weapons systems only after months of debate and lobbying by Kyiv and European allies who want an accelerated effort to defeat Russia.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has consistently said Putin must not win, while avoiding saying that Ukraine should win.
The West is showing its interests in Ukraine are limited, said Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center in Berlin. “As heartbreaking as the situation is, a lot of voters in the West don’t see the war as existential for them. They want money to be spent on other issues too.”
The West’s priorities are to weaken the Kremlin’s military and economic ability to pursue expansionist ambitions, keep NATO countries united and avoid World War III. The current deadlock ticks those boxes.
“Putin’s already lost the war,” Biden said after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July. That assessment isn’t shared by Putin, however—nor by Ukraine.
“So far, Putin thinks time is ticking in his favor,” said Klimkin, the former foreign minister. “We need a coordinated strategy with the West so that Putin thinks time is ticking against his personal position and Russia’s.”

In Washington and key European capitals, many officials doubt Ukraine can take back all of its territory by force—short of a massive increase in Western military aid that they consider too risky.
Western leaders are reluctant to pressure Kyiv to talk, since that could split NATO while encouraging Russia to bet that the West will abandon Kyiv. But some would prefer negotiations to the costs of a long war.
Some Western commentators have long argued that it would be in Ukraine’s own best interests to freeze the conflict and accept a loss of territory, rather than suffer an endless heavy death toll in a war of attrition against a more populous country.
But surveys have consistently shown that Ukrainians overwhelmingly reject giving up territory to Russia. The revelations of killings of civilians, torture chambers, filtration camps and the deportation of children from occupied areas have hardened the country’s determination to restore full control over their territory despite the heavy casualties.
“So far, the majority of Ukrainians are fundamentally against any negotiation. It is an emotional as well as a political position,” said Klimkin.
What’s more, many believe Ukraine has no choice, because even if Putin were open to a deal, he wouldn’t stick to it.
“Putin would just treat a cease-fire as a breathing space to strengthen his military forces,” said Andrei Kozyrev, a former Russian foreign minister in the 1990s who has denounced the invasion of Ukraine. “A settlement would open the way to buy weapons from China. In a year or so, Putin would attack again.”

When Putin became president, Russia had signed several treaties that guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity. In 2003, he personally signed a treaty with Ukraine demarcating the two countries’ land border.
In 2008, Putin bristled when asked on German TV whether Russia might lay claim to Crimea, saying: “Russia has long recognized the borders of modern-day Ukraine…I think questions about such goals have provocative undertones.”

Russia has managed to overcome sanctions and export controls imposed by the West to expand its missile production beyond prewar levels, according to U.S., European and Ukrainian officials, leaving Ukraine especially vulnerable to intensified attacks in the coming months.
In addition to spending more than $40 billion providing weapons for Ukraine, the United States has made curbing Russia’s military supply a key part of its strategy to support Kyiv.
As a result of the sanctions, American officials estimate that Russia was forced to dramatically slow its production of missiles and other weaponry at the start of the war in February 2022 for at least six months. But by the end of 2022, Moscow’s military industrial manufacturing began to pick up speed again, American officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the sensitive assessment now concede.

Russia subverted American export controls using its intelligence services and ministry of defense to run illicit networks of people who smuggle key components by exporting them to other countries from which they can be shipped to Russia more easily. In less than a year since the war began, Russia rebuilt trade in critical components by routing them through countries like Armenia and Turkey. U.S. and European regulators have been trying to work together to curb the export of chips to Russia, but have struggled to stop the flow to pass through countries with ties to Moscow.
Russia’s re-energized military production is especially worrisome because Moscow has used artillery to pound Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines, and its missiles to attack the electric grid and other critical infrastructure, and to terrorize civilians in cities. Officials fear that increased missile stocks could mean an especially dark and cold winter for Ukrainian citizens.

In the meantime, the Pentagon is working to find ways to help Ukrainians better take down the missiles and drones fired by Russia at civilian targets in Kyiv and military targets around the country. The Pentagon has provided Patriot air defense systems and cajoled allies to provide S-300 air defense ammunition, both of which have proven effective. It has also provided other air defenses like the Avenger system and the Hawk air defense system.
But Ukraine does not have enough air defense systems to cover the entire country, and must pick the sites it defends. An increased barrage of missiles could overwhelm the country’s air defenses, Ukrainian officials said.

In October 2022, the United States gathered international officials in Washington in an effort to strengthen sanctions on the Russian economy. At the time, American officials said they believed the sanctions and export controls were working in part because they deterred countries from sending microchips, circuit boards, computer processors and other components needed for precision guided weaponry as well as necessary components for diesel engines, helicopters and tanks.
But Russia adapted quickly with its own efforts to secure supplies of the needed parts.
Today, Russian officials have remade their economy to focus on defense production. With revenue from high energy prices, Russia’s security services and ministry of defense have been able to smuggle in the microelectronics and other Western materials required for cruise missiles and other precision guided weaponry. As a result, military production has not only recovered but surged.

Before the war, one senior Western defense official said, Russia could make 100 tanks a year; now they are producing 200.
Western officials also believe Russia is on track to manufacture two million artillery shells a year — double the amount Western intelligence services had initially estimated Russia could manufacture before the war.
As a result of the push, Russia is now producing more ammunition than the United States and Europe. Overall, Kusti Salm, a senior Estonian defense ministry official, estimated that Russia’s current ammunition production is seven times greater than that of the West.
Russia’s production costs are also far lower than the West’s, in part because Moscow is sacrificing safety and quality in its effort to build weapons more cheaply, Mr. Salm said. For instance, it costs a Western country $5,000 to $6,000 to make a 155-millimeter artillery round, whereas it costs Russia about $600 to produce a comparable 152-millimeter artillery shell, he said.

Still, Russia faces some shortcomings. It does not have huge inventories of missiles, though they have more of some kinds — like the Kh-55 air-launched cruise missile — in stock now than they did at the beginning of the war, according to people briefed on intelligence reports.
“In certain areas, they’ve been able to significantly ramp up production,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, an international security expert and chairman of Silverado Policy Accelerator, a Washington-based think tank.
In cases where Russia needs millions of one particular component, export controls can grind production to a halt. But the chips needed to make a couple of hundred cruise missiles would fit into a few backpacks, which makes evading sanctions relatively simple, Mr. Alperovitch said.

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