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

Speaking to reporters at the Air & Space Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference, Lt. Gen. Michael Loh said that some Ukrainian pilots who will soon arrive at Morris Air National Guard base in Tucson, Arizona could complete the course in as little as three months, though less experienced pilots would need longer.

“They’ll take anywhere from — depending on their level of proficiency in fighters and how much they have — anywhere from three months to up to as long as nine months at Tucson to get ready,” he said at the conference here in National Harbor, Md.

Loh said the course at Morris will consist of three training phases: ground, simulator and flight. Asked whether Ukrainians will learn how to employ weapons like AMRAAM, he replied that “we will train them to do the full multi-role spectrum of what we can expect in their theater of conflict.”

Ukrainians will also receive priority training, Loh said, likely meaning some other foreign and domestic pilots looking to learn how to fly the jet might be bumped back in the queue.

While some officials have downplayed how much of a difference the jets could make in the war in Ukraine, Loh took a far more optimistic view of their capabilities, stating that “I think it can definitely be a game changer.”

Already, some 50 jets are lined up to be donated to Ukraine, a quantity that Loh said would have an impact. (Some reports have said Ukraine could get more than 60 of the fighters, though some will be used for training.)

“That’s a good three fighter squadrons worth,” he observed. “I think it is enough.”

Gen. David Allvin, the Air Force vice chief of staff on tap for a promotion to serve as the service’s No. 1 officer, said at his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that those F-16s would require additional training to benefit the rest of Ukraine’s forces. However, he added, the promised delivery also serves as a “symbol” of the intent to eventually transition Ukraine to Western weapons platforms.

“As with our Air Force, we’re only effective if we’re part of a joint force,” Allvin said. “The value of the F-16s will be in the longer term when it’s better integrated with a larger Ukrainian military.”

“What we understand through our successes in air power and air superiority is it’s not only the platform, but it’s the training,” Allvin said. “And that training is not just on the platform, but it’s the integration with the command-and-control elements, the integration with the joint force.”

Ukraine carried out an overnight missile attack on the Sevastopol Shipyard in annexed Crimea, the Russian authorities said. According to preliminary reports, the attack damaged a Russian landing ship and a submarine undergoing repairs.

The diesel-electric submarine "Rostov-on-Don" and the large landing ship "Minsk" were damaged as a result of the attack on #Sevastopol, they caught fire, reports Russian media.

The occupiers used "Rostov-on-Don" for shelling of Ukraine.

“I want to thank the pilots of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for their excellent combat work,” said Ukraine’s air force commander Mykola Oleschuk said, suggesting his pilots were involved in the attack.

Video of the attack: https://twitter.com/ChristopherJM/status/1701904478205542871

Very significant language from the Putin-Kim meeting, where Kim claims Russia is waging a "sacred struggle", and says that he "always supported and supports all decisions by President Putin."

Elsewhere Kim says relations with Russia are North Korea's "foremost priority". This will not go unnoticed by the Chinese.

Perhaps a bit early to say but I think what we are seeing here is the emergence of a de facto alliance between Pyongyang and Moscow. That is a major development with significant regional implications, which will have the following elements:

1) Increasing military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang, including high tech cooperation (space & missiles)
2) Naval visits, joint exercises
3) The unraveling of the sanctions regime (at least from the Russian side. Will be interesting to see what the Chinese make of it).

4) Possibly, return of North Korean workers to Russia, maybe in substantial numbers (as construction workers);
5) Probably (and most disturbingly) a greater militancy and assertiveness by North Korea, contributing to tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

6) I doubt we'll see Korean "volunteers" on the frontlines in Ukraine, but it'll be interesting to see how long it takes before North Korean artillery makes an appearance. Both Kim and Putin emphasized comradeship of the Korean War (surely not out of purely historical interest).

We have not seen such a close alignment between Moscow and Pyongyang since before 1956, but worth remembering that today's relationship is one between two nuclear-armed powers. Creates a different dynamic.

A Wagner-linked TG channel claims there was a dangerous standoff between Wagner and Russian army at Khmeimim airbase in Syria over defence ministry’s refusal to allow the landing of a Wagner plane carrying Syrian mercenaries from Libya. Eventually sorted out by Yevkurov.

Russia’s defense of occupied territory in southern Ukraine began with dense spiderwebs of trench lines, hardened fortifications and stubby concrete dragon’s teeth. Now, months into Ukraine’s counteroffensive, the sky over the Zaporizhzhia region has become another threat for Ukraine to overcome.
Russian forces are bedeviling Ukrainian troops with attack drones and guided bombs, soldiers and analysts said, part of an evolving strategy to exploit Ukraine’s shortfalls, including limited air defense systems and having far fewer fighter jets than Moscow.
Moscow has stepped up aerial attacks in the region using two abundant weapons — self-detonating attack drones, and airplane bombs modified to make them more accurate. Together, they form a constant explosive drumbeat in the fight.
Russia’s air threats have further complicated Ukraine’s push to storm occupied territory in the Zaporizhzhia region, which is key to Kyiv’s bid to snuff out supply lines flowing from Crimea. Ukrainian forces have made bloody and grinding gains, driving a V-shaped wedge into enemy terrain. Liberated territory, however, has been measured by the kilometer, prompting concern in the West that Ukraine’s chances to strike a fatal blow to Moscow’s war machine are fading as winter approaches.

The two weapons are used for different purposes. The Lancet, an attack drone that is steered into a target and detonates its onboard explosives, is often used to hit Ukrainian vehicles. The old airplane-dropped bombs have been modified with GPS guidance and wings, allowing them to glide into targets such as command posts. Both have uneven success striking their targets, experts said.
The airplane bombs are particularly vexing, said Oleksiy Melnyk, a military expert at the Razumkov Center, a Kyiv-based think tank. Their old, heavy iron construction makes them difficult to intercept because air defense missiles are designed to strike thinner targets. That characteristic, and the sheer quantity of them, have presented a challenge.

“It’s important to know that it’s relatively cheap stuff,” Melnyk said. “And Russia has almost unlimited stocks.”
Lancet drones, in use since the start of the invasion last year, have become one of Russia’s signature weapons. The X-winged craft, fitted with a camera in the nose, operates in tandem with a surveillance drone overhead that monitors for targets, giving multiple views of the battlefield, said Yurii Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian air force.
Lancets have a relatively small explosive payload, weighing about 6.6 pounds, or roughly the same power as a U.S. 120mm mortar round. It is enough to damage and in some cases destroy higher-end Ukrainian equipment, because precision control through its camera allows operators to steer directly into a target’s vulnerable parts.

Lancets, launched from catapults, have a range of about 37 miles, Ihnat said. That can put launch sites out of reach of many Ukrainian weapons, though they appear to have found recent success, including a strike this week on one Lancet launch site in the northeast, video of which was then published on a military Telegram page.
Ukrainian soldiers fighting in the counteroffensive have said Lancets, which were not heavily used early in the operation, have since evolved into a chief concern.
A 43-year old commander of a U.S.-provided Bradley fighting vehicle with the call sign Frenchman said his crew had been through extensive fighting in the campaign to take back Robotyne, one of the villages liberated by Ukraine in the counteroffensive.
The number of Lancet attacks has spiked within the past month, he said. And while Bradleys are well-protected against some mines and antitank rockets, the Lancets pose a different threat, Frenchman said.
“If you go during the day, they can target the vehicles with two to three Lancet drones,” he said. “If it hits the engine compartment, it kills it. It burns the armor.”

Russian state media has reported a ramp-up in production of Lancets, and at a cost estimated at $30,000 to $35,000, they are far cheaper than higher-end drones and missiles, said Samuel Bendett, a member of the Russian studies program at the Center for Naval Analyses in Arlington.
Ukrainian forces have adapted by rolling nets and chain-link fence around critical systems, with the barriers designed to detonate Lancets before they strike the target itself. Electronic jamming is another defensive option, officials have said.
Soldiers can also bring down Lancets with machine guns and small arms, but that requires being able to see them. Often the drones fly at night, when it is difficult to tell where they are coming from, Bendett said.

Moscow’s depleting stock of precision missiles has forced changes that lean into Russia’s advantages, which include big, Soviet-era inventories of bombs dropped by planes. The 1,100-pound munitions, FAB-500s, are known as “dumb bombs” because they are unguided and inaccurate, forcing pilots to risk their planes by flying closer to a target and releasing them. The modifications, which appear to have been first deployed in the spring, have turned them into weapons that glide — rather than fall — to their target.
The modifications have given Russia a key advantage over Ukrainian air defenses. The planes fly higher than 30,000 feet, Ihnat said, and launch the bombs about 30 miles from the front line. The bombs then glide about another 12 miles in Ukrainian territory, he said.
That proximity means the bombs are in the air for far less time than typical missiles, which air defenses are calibrated to detect and intercept. The bombs are not always accurate, he said, but Russian planes are dropping many of them.
“Theoretically, these bombs can be countered, but they are extremely difficult to shoot down, almost impossible,” Ihnat said. The only practical solution, he said, is to shoot down Russian planes farther from Ukrainian territory, rather than the bombs themselves. But doing that, he said, requires modern fighter jets, like the American-made F-16s, which are still months away, as Washington and its partners focus on training.

Russia’s reliance on the bombs comes with trade-offs for both sides, said a Western official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive battlefield dynamics.
Russian pilots are staying further back and not protecting their forces as well with close air support, which has enabled Ukrainian forces to move in small tactical groups farther south, the official said. Moscow’s solution, then, has become glide bombs and other long-range weapons that are difficult to counter.
“It’s how you adapt to stay out of the shorter-range air defenses that come attached to the Ukrainian forces,” the official said.

Oleksandr Solonko, a Ukrainian soldier in an air reconnaissance battalion positioned in the south for the counteroffensive, said the powerful bombs are devastating and can obliterate entire tree lines, which both Ukrainians and Russians rely on for concealment in the mostly flat open fields of Zaporizhzhia.
“Guided air bombs are one of the biggest fears. Russians use them en masse,” Solonko said on the social media platform X late last month. “They are trying to hit our logistics and command posts. Same as we do. But they also sometimes just shoot on the roads. Main settlements with the troops in them are constantly under fire.”

Delays in Western provision of fighter jets and Ukraine’s overtaxed, always scarce air defense systems are a constant challenge, Solonko said in an interview, along a road in Zaporizhzhia bustling with military vehicles coming to and from the battlefield.
“Lack of aviation is hurting the fight,” he said. “We are suffering a lot.”

In Ukraine, concern about North Korea’s potential supply of artillery and ammunition to Russia is matched by worry about any possible role China could play, according to BBC Monitoring.

"The North Koreans will rebuild their stockpile with Chinese ammunition. It's not without the Chinese, that's for sure," military expert Roman Svitan told 24 Kanal TV.

"China, in spite of its declarations of neutrality, is becoming more active on Russia’s side,” commentator Yuriy Poyta told the website Liga. “Beijing is doing so secretly to avoid problems.”

Poyta said more than 75% of microprocessors used by the Russian army make their way into the country through China. “It has played a serious role in Russia’s ability to rebuild and sustain its missile industry," he said.

If China starts supplying Russia with weapons, this will “change everything”, and “not only for Ukraine” Poyta added.

Russian insider sources claimed that the Kremlin’s inner circle is again actively disagreeing about the necessity of and preparations for a second wave of reserve mobilization ahead of the semi-annual fall conscription cycle, which starts on October 1. A Russian Telegram channel with alleged connections to Russian security sources claimed that select Russian officials are “seriously” preparing for a second wave of reserve mobilization and are hoping to conduct another reserve mobilization wave in the fall.[1] It is important to distinguish between Russia’s normal semi-annual conscription callup, a large-scale reserve mobilization like the one that brought more than 300,000 reservists into the Russian armed forces in Fall 2022, crypto-mobilizations that bring reservists into the force at lower numbers over a long period of time, and various efforts to encourage or coerce Russians to sign ostensibly voluntary contracts with the Russian military. The channel claimed that Russian officials want to mobilize between 170,000 to 175,000 reservists and move the fall conscription date from October 1 to November 1 to accommodate a reserve mobilization processes, while simultaneously conducting “contract mobilization” to recruit an additional 130,000 personnel for contract service using coercive measures.[2] The channel claimed that a powerful group of “siloviki hawks” is also proposing stricter reserve mobilization measures such as restricting certain individuals from obtaining mobilization deferrals, which has sparked major disagreements with officials in the Russian Presidential Administration. The channel claimed that the Presidential Administration fears a response to such measures from other Russian officials and broader Russian society.

These plans, proposals, and disagreements are not new and do not indicate that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ultimately decided to conduct a second reserve mobilization wave in the near term. ISW previously observed an increase in discussions about reserve mobilization preparations and speculations in the lead-up to the spring conscription cycle earlier in 2023.[3] Select Russian officials have also proposed more dramatic mobilization measures that have not materialized.[4] Putin also emphasized Russian contract service recruitment rates when responding to the question about the potential second reserve mobilization wave at the Eastern Economic Forum on September 12.[5] Putin’s response does not necessarily set information conditions to prepare Russian society for involuntary mobilization and instead may suggest his commitment to ongoing crypto mobilization practices. Any new reserve mobilization wave depends on Putin.[6]

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in Donetsk and Zaporizhia oblasts on September 12 and have reportedly advanced south of Bakhmut and Robotyne. Ukrainian military sources stated that Ukrainian forces are conducting active offensive operations near Klishchiivka (6km southwest of Bakhmut).[9] The Ukrainian General Staff also stated that Ukrainian forces were additionally successful south and southeast of Robotyne (about 13km south of Orikhiv).[10] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun clarified that Ukrainian forces have advanced between 300-500 meters south and southeast of Robotyne.[11] The Ukrainian Military Media Center noted that Russian forces are increasingly pulling reserves from deep within Russian territory to the frontline in Ukraine out of fear of a Ukrainian breakthrough.[12]

Russian authorities have reportedly adjusted air defense systems around Moscow in light of recent increased drone strikes on the city, likely in part to assuage complaints in the Russian information space about the ineffectiveness of air defenses around the capital. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) stated that Russian authorities have moved short and medium-range air defense systems, including Pantsir-S1 systems, to elevated positions around Moscow City to target drones.[15] The UK MoD noted that these adjustments are also likely meant to visibly demonstrate to the population that Russian authorities are taking steps to combat increasingly frequent drone strikes in the Russian rear, particularly in Moscow Oblast.[16] ISW has previously reported that Russian sources have complained about Moscow air defenses’ inability to stop such drone strikes, with some blaming Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and his administration directly.[17]

China wants to be seen as Vladimir Putin's "principal supporter" - but it's unlikely to be worried about his summit with Kim Jong Un today, says a former diplomat.

Sir Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador, told Sky News that Beijing has retained close ties to Moscow and it's "useful" for it to have Mr Putin "keeping America distracted".

Asked whether China would be worried about the meeting between the Russian and North Korean leaders, he said: "I don't think there's much risk of Kim Jong Un supplanting [Chinese] President Xi as being the key player.

"If China wanted the war in Ukraine to come to an end, they could deliver that - Kim Jong Un cannot. He simply doesn't have that sort of clout."

Sir Peter said he believes the "criticism" that China has faced over its Moscow relations also spanning to North Korea would be "quite helpful to Beijing".

A weapons deal between North Korea and Russia would be "bad news for absolutely everybody" and not just Ukraine, according to a Russia expert.

Keir Giles, an author and senior consulting fellow of the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House, told Sky News that it could also affect the Far East if Pyongyang is handed the technology to build its own "aggressive weapons".

Russia is looking for "partners in destruction" after isolating itself from most of the world, Mr Giles said, and Moscow and its allies are "a coalition of countries that want to bring down the world order as we know it".

"If Russia now decides that it no longer needs to be a party to the sanctions on North Korea that were supposed to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, then that is a major step forward to destabilising the situation in the Far East."

He said the intense media interest on the summit plays into the image that Vladmir Putin is "powerful and has friends in the world", Mr Giles said, adding: "Even if that circle of friends has now reduced to that coalition of rogue states."

In return for selling weapons to Russia, Kim was expected to ask Putin to share advanced military technology, so he can make progress with his own weapons programme.

Moscow's weapons are thought to be decades ahead of Pyongyang's.

One of the areas where Kim is struggling to make progress is his space programme. He has tried to put a spy satellite into orbit twice in the past six months - and failed.

A spy satellite would give North Korea eyes in the sky on its enemies. It could use it to plot attacks more accurately and to monitor incoming threats.

Kim has made developing a spy satellite one of his key military priorities in the past few years.

Even as a war rages on the European continent, European defense spending is stuck slightly above neutral, with an overlapping set of political and industrial problems blocking any quick increases in capabilities and styming supplies to Ukraine.

European defense spending rose at a rate of four percent in the last ten years and may grow more than six percent annually in the next five years, according to market research by management advisory firm McKinsey. The report does not specify whether the numbers were adjusted for inflation.

However, those rates mean that it will still be years before many NATO countries meet the alliance’s guideline that members should spend at least two percent of gross domestic product on defense.

European nations are also playing catch-up to decades of flagging investment since the Cold War’s end.

According to the McKinsey report, a Europe that had maintained its Cold War budgets would have spent an extra $8.6 trillion on defense from 1992 to 2022. One marker of this gap is the 80 percent drop in European armies’ fleets of main battle tanks over those years.

Falling spending isn’t the only problem. More than sixty percent of European weapons are only operated in one country, according to the McKinsey report. That can make such systems harder and more expensive to maintain and even keep in ammunition.

The Next Generation Adaptable Ammunition, also from BAE, likewise seeks to cut costs, said Steve Cardew, the company’s business development director for munitions. Cardew said the new 155mm round will be 50 to 75 percent cheaper than current 155mm rounds, thanks to a range of manufacturing changes, including how its propellant is mixed.

The rounds, which Russia produces an equivalent of for as little as $600, can cost as much as $6,000 to produce currently, Permanent Secretary of the Estonian Defense Ministry Kusti Salm previously told Defense One.

With governments moving cautiously on defense spending, though, such advancements are hardly likely to come in time to alleviate the immediate shell shortages caused by the war in Ukraine. BAE's new round won’t have initial production capability for the round until 2025.

“On the first day of the Battle of Verdun, in 1916, one million shells were fired,” said Guillaume de Ranieri, senior partner at McKinsey. “I think capability exists. The question is how fast do you rebuild it.”

A senior Ukrainian official says the country has nearly completed repairs of its power systems and is ready to face the winter.

Russian air strikes pounded Ukraine's energy infrastructure with frequent missile and drone attacks last winter.

"We have installed all the equipment we planned and we are ready for the winter loads," Volodymyr Kudrytskiy, the head of the state-owned Ukrenergo power grid operator, told national television.

Russia's campaign caused power cuts and blackouts last winter that left towns and cities in darkness for hours at a time.
While Kudrytskiy said there was a "high risk" of a renewed campaign of attacks, Ukrainian air defenses were now far stronger.

"We know what it looks like [to be attacked] and it will be very difficult for the enemy to surprise us after the 1,200 missiles they fired at the power system last winter," he said.

Earlier this year, Kudrytskiy said fast repairs and equipment sent by Kyiv's Western partners had proved particularly helpful last winter, allowing residents and businesses to cope.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said the bloc will extend special protections for Ukrainian citizens who fled Russia's war, and reaffirmed Brussels' support for Kyiv.

"Our support to Ukraine will endure," von der Leyen said in her annual policy speech to the European Parliament.

Lawmakers gave a standing ovation as von der Leyen paid tribute to Victoria Amelina, a Ukrainian writer and activist who died of her wounds after a Russian missile attack in eastern Ukraine. She said that the EU would "keep the memory of Victoria — and all other victims — alive."

Fragment of an interview with the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine.
Various Ukrainian UAVs can be seen in the background. It is noteworthy that one of them is UJ-23 TOPAZ. This is the first appearance of the UJ-23 in public since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine; previously, prototypes of the UJ-23 were only shown at various exhibitions.
TOPAZ can lift 10 kg of payload, has a cruising speed of 600 km/h, max speed 800km/h and range of 400km.

Ukraine used British cruise missiles in an attack against the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in occupied Crimea. A submarine & warship were damaged in one of the largest strikes against Russian naval targets of the war.

An urban area of 50,000 people before the war, Kupyansk was captured by Russia without a fight in February 2022, becoming the capital of the occupied part of eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. Ukrainian forces reclaimed the city in a lightning offensive a year ago, a swift maneuver that ousted Russia from nearly all of Kharkiv and parts of nearby Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Now, Moscow wants it back. For the past year, Russian troops have remained within artillery range of Kupyansk, devastating the city with nearly daily barrages. In the past several weeks, as Ukrainian forces launched a push in the south of the country, Russia unleashed its own offensive toward Kupyansk, deploying more than 50,000 troops to attempt to retake the city.

Despite triumphant reports in Russian state media of Kupyansk’s imminent fall, the Russians have had little success.
“The result of their offensive has been an increase of the no-man’s-land, of the number of settlements where active combat is under way,” said Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Ukrainian military administration for the Kharkiv region. “But the Russians haven’t been able to occupy a single new village here since last September, and they keep sustaining heavy losses in personnel and equipment.”
Villages on approaches to Kupyansk have turned into rubble, with almost all residents gone. In Kupyansk itself, fewer than one-fifth of the prewar population remains. Ukrainian authorities declared a mandatory evacuation last month for the city’s civilians because of frequent shelling and attacks by guided bombs, one of which recently targeted the only pontoon crossing between the two banks of the Oskil River, which bisects the city. Ukrainian legislation, however, doesn’t permit forcibly evicting residents from their homes, and only a fraction of the remaining residents heeded the call to evacuate.

Russia is using Storm Z penal units—made up of prisoner recruits—at the Kupyansk front, according to Ukrainian commanders. Some of the units were so poorly equipped that only one out of three soldiers carried a rifle, with others expected to pick up the weapons of fallen comrades or to capture them, said a Ukrainian battalion commander on the Kupyansk front who goes by the call sign Phoenix.
“They keep trying to take Kupyansk, from the right, from the left, attack in large numbers, die by the stacks, and still don’t give up,” he said.
The Russian attackers appear motivated, he added: One of the recently taken Russian prisoners was convinced that he was fighting against the U.S. to liberate Ukraine from what he believed to be American occupation, he said.

During the occupation, a significant number of people in Kupyansk collaborated with the Russians. Most of these collaborators and their families fled last fall to Russia, where a Russian-created “interim administration of the Kharkiv region” continues to operate. In social-media groups, they identify Kupyansk’s openly pro-Ukrainian residents, going as far as publishing GPS coordinates of their homes.
On the eastern bank of the Oskil, which is much closer to Russian lines, residents usually band together and send one vehicle on the risky trip across the river to collect food supplies provided by humanitarian organizations. With the factories in eastern Kupyansk’s industrial zone closed, a skeleton staff remains to guard properties from looters.
One of these guards, Dmitri Zimin, originally from Russia, moved to Kupyansk in 1999. “I speak only Russian, but I really hope the Russians don’t come back,” he said. “When they were here it was as if some man had taken over your house, settled into your room, and started telling you how to live.”
Oleksandr Shpakovsky, a grocery owner, said that few in the city now believe that Russia possesses the strength to recapture Kupyansk. “In February last year, the Muscovites didn’t pay a drop of blood to take Kupyansk. It was cost-free for them,” he said. “Now, when they have to pay, they are irrigating with blood every hundred meters of their advance. It won’t be easy for them.”
This could've been very bad:

A Russian pilot tried to shoot down an RAF surveillance plane after believing he had permission to fire, the BBC has learned.

The pilot fired two missiles, the first of which missed rather than malfunctioned as claimed at the time.

Russia had claimed the incident last September was caused by a "technical malfunction".

The UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) publicly accepted the Russian explanation.

But now three senior Western defence sources with knowledge of the incident have told the BBC that Russian communications intercepted by the RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft give a very different account from the official version.

The RAF plane - with a crew of up to 30 - was flying a surveillance mission over the Black Sea in international airspace on 29 September last year when it encountered two Russian SU-27 fighter jets.

The intercepted communications show that one of the Russian pilots thought he had been given permission to target the British aircraft, following an ambiguous command from a Russian ground station.

However, the second Russian pilot did not. He remonstrated and swore at his wingman when he fired the first missile.

The Rivet Joint is loaded with sensors to intercept communications. The RAF crew would have been able to listen in to the incident which could have resulted in their own deaths.

The MoD will not release details of those communications.

Responding to these new revelations an MoD spokesperson said: "Our intent has always been to protect the safety of our operations, avoid unnecessary escalation and inform the public and international community."

As the two Russian SU-27s approached the RAF spy plane, they received a communication from their ground station controller.

One Western source told the BBC the words they received were to the effect of "you have the target".

This ambiguous language was interpreted by one of the Russian pilots as permission to fire.

The loose language appears to have shown a high degree of unprofessionalism by those involved, sources said. In contrast, Nato pilots use very precise language when asking for and receiving permission to fire.

The Russian pilot released an air-to-air missile, which successfully launched but failed to lock on to its target, the BBC has been told. It was a miss, not a malfunction.

Defence sources have told the BBC that a row then broke out between the two Russian pilots.

The pilot of the second SU-27 did not think they had been given permission to fire.

He is said to have sworn at his comrade, effectively asking him what he thought he was doing.

Yet the first pilot still released another missile.

We had been told that the second missile simply fell from the wing - suggesting the weapon either malfunctioned or that the launch was aborted.

Ukraine on Thursday confirmed it wrecked a Russian submarine with British weapons, during a missile attack on the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea.

The Russian cruise missile carrier — the Rostov-on-Don — was significantly damaged in the massive Ukrainian strike, as was Kremlin warship the Minsk.

A senior Ukrainian military official confirmed to POLITICO that Ukrainian pilots used the British cruise missile Storm Shadow for the attack.

Kyiv's security service (SBU) and navy carried out the attack on a Russian facility near Yevpatoriya using cruise missiles and drones, a Ukrainian intelligence source told the BBC.

Video footage on social media showed a fire and smoke near the city, in the west of the Russian-occupied peninsula.

Earlier on Thursday, a number of explosions were reported in the Crimean peninsula, which Russia illegally occupied in 2014.

According to the BBC's intelligence source, the Ukrainian operation used drones to take out radar equipment, then cruise missiles to hit air defence missile launchers.

"After disabling the radar stations, the navy units hit the S300 and S400 'Triumph' systems, worth $1.2bn, by two Neptune cruise missiles," the source said.

Neptune missiles were designed by Ukraine's military for naval use but have been modified for ground targets as well.

No details were provided on the number of the batteries that had been hit.

Citing local residents, Ukrainian media reported that explosions happened at around 05:40 local time (02:40 GMT) and smoke was seen near the military base.

BBC Verify has analysed footage on social media of smoke rising and believes it to be of the attack on Yevpatoriya.

Some imagery of the attack: https://twitter.com/kromark/status/1702306508178907578

Some video: https://twitter.com/yarotrof/status/1702272293626687572

SCOOP: The Biden administration is set to impose sanctions on five Turkish companies and a Turkish national on Thursday, accusing them of helping Russia evade sanctions and supporting Moscow in its war against Ukraine, a senior Treasury official tells me & @DPsaledakis 1/x

The overnight strikes by Ukrainian forces on a shipyard in Russian-held Sevastapol is the latest example of the country “redefining” what is possible in modern conflict, the head of the British Royal Navy said today.

“I think this sort of thing will make a difference. It is definitely going to strike into the heart of what the kind of maritime operational advantage looks like… in the Black Sea at the moment,” Adm. Ben Key, the Royal Navy’s first sea lord, told attendees here in London. “They are redefining or demonstrating what can be done… We’ve seen in a number of various areas, some really significant adaptations of tactics, techniques and capabilities in order to try and generate a capability advantage over the Russians.”

Hours after Ukraine destroyed a Russian Kilo-class submarine sitting in dry dock, Britain’s top naval officer hailed a new era of naval warfare.

Uncrewed vessels and automation have delivered a “dreadnought moment,” said Adm. Sir Ben Key, alluding to advances in propulsion, gunnery, and armor that led the British and German navies to overhaul their strategies in the early 1900s.

“We're once again facing something completely new, a paradigm shift,” Key said, speaking at the arms show DSEI in London on Wednesday.

The Royal Navy's First Sea Lord highlighted Britain’s own progress on unmanned systems, citing British development of the largest European unmanned submarine, the Cetus, the deployment of an unmanned minesweeper, and experiments in uncrewed air systems.

Key called out Ukraine’s strikes on Russia’s Black Sea fleet with missiles and explosive-laden unmanned vessels as particularly important for Britain’s navy.

On the one hand, Ukraine’s successful attacks show navies what types of offensive capabilities and tactics they should consider for themselves, Key said. On the other hand, the success of such attacks meant navies should reconsider their defensive strategies.

Ukrainian forces have retaken the village of Andriivka, south of the city of Bakhmut, the Ukrainian military brigade fighting in the area said Friday.

The brigade said fighting was ongoing and units "continue to consolidate their positions."

"Taking and holding Andriivka is our way to a breakthrough on the right flank of Bakhmut and the key to the success of the entire offensive," it added.

The Ukrainian and Russian sides have said that some of the most intense battles in the Bakhmut direction are happening south of the embattled city in the Andriivka area, as both sides strive to mark tangible progress.

The liberation of the village of Andriivka marks a symbolic and strategic victory for the Ukrainian forces, and comes after Wagner fighters left the Bakhmut area.

Ukraine's military has "fought hard" for the wrecked ruins of Andriivka, a small but potentially key eastern town captured by troops today.

Professor Michael Clarke, defence and security analyst and former director-general of the Royal United Services Institute, said forces have been "struggling a lot" to get south of the war-torn city of Bakhmut - meaning the capture is "strategically important".

"If they can get south of Bakhmut, then they can get into open country into Russia's reserve lines," he said.

Andriivka lies around 13km (8 miles) south of Bakhmut, which was the site of a long and bloody battle over many months.

Professor Clarke says getting south of the key frontline city means troops could "maybe turn south into Donetsk and try to really get behind Donetsk itself".

"[Andriivka] doesn't look much but it is strategically quite important. You can see it's like a First World War battlefield. They've really struggled for it."
Ukrainian forces have also destroyed Russia's 72nd Motorised Brigades and claim to have killed three battalion commanders, Professor Clarke explains.

"If that's true - and there's other supporting evidence that indicates it is probably true - this is a strategically small but significant victory for the Ukrainians.

"It also reflects the fact that the Russians have been taking forces away from the northern front. They're under such pressure in Tokmak, down in the south, that they're taking forces away from this front and in a sense, leaving them to do the best they can."

Russia is "downplaying" the damage caused to two of its naval vessels in a Ukrainian attack on occupied Crimea, the UK's defence ministry (MoD) has said.

The significant attack against the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet at the Sevastopol shipyard was carried out using British cruise missiles, Sky News exclusively revealed this week.

Moscow insisted a Minsk landing ship and Rostov submarine damaged in the strike would be restored.

But the MoD said open-source evidence showed the ship had "almost certainly been functionally destroyed", while the submarine had "likely suffered catastrophic damage".

"Any effort to return the submarine to service is likely to take many years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars," it added.

The loss of the Rostov removes one of the Black Sea fleet's missile-capable submarines "which have played a major role in striking Ukraine".

Andriivka and Klishchiivka under Ukrainian control on the Deep State map now. Strategically important villages near Bakhmut.

Ukraine’s Third Storm Brigade on the Bakhmut front says it has encircled and routed Russia’s 72nd Brigade, killing three batallion commanders and the Russian brigade’s intelligence chief as it retook the village of Andriyivka in a two-day operation.

@AndreiSoldatov and @irinaborogan warn that the Russian Orthodox church may be aiding the Kremlin’s efforts to infiltrate the West—particularly through its ties to the Russian émigré community.

Thread: https://twitter.com/Mi_Petersen38/status/1702405535893422486

Admiral Vladimir Sokolov is commander of the Black Sea Fleet. He is considered by his peers to be battle-tested and highly competent. But several recent defeats show how he's lost the initiative and is hampered by systemic challenges and probably failure of imagination. 1/10

There has not been any major change on the Robotyne frontline the last 10 days. It would seem RU have succeeded in slowing down UA progress by moving and engaging the 76th VDv division to Zaporizhzhia. It's not unlikely we are will see a period with more focus on attrition.

Looks to be a 50 min or so podcast here with BBC. They talk about the Ukraine war's counteroffensive: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct4q76

Ukrainian forces struck a Russian air defense system near occupied Yevpatoria, Crimea, on September 14, suggesting that there may be systemic tactical failures with Russian air defense systems in occupied Crimea. The Department of Strategic Communications of the Ukrainian Armed Forces stated that Ukrainian forces struck the location of a Russian surface-to-air missile system near Yevpatoria (68km northwest of Sevastopol).[5] Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda reported that a source affiliated with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) stated that the SBU and the Ukrainian Navy conducted a “unique special operation” that destroyed a Russian S-400 “Triumf” system near Yevpatoria.[6] Ukrainian forces reportedly struck the S-400 system’s radar and antennas with drones and struck the launch complexes with two Neptune cruise missiles.[7] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that Russian air defenses intercepted 11 Ukrainian drones over Crimea but did not mention any Ukrainian missile strikes.[8] Geolocated footage published on September 14 shows an explosion near Yevpatoria and subsequent smoke plumes in the area.[9] Additional geolocated footage shows that Russian forces had recently deployed an S-400 battery outside of Yevpatoria and that the explosion occurred in the same location where a Russian S-400 system had been deployed in August 2022.[10] The strike suggests that Russian forces were unprepared to intercept missiles with the system or were unable to do so. Ukrainian forces struck a Russian S-400 air defense system near Olenivka, Crimea (117km northwest of Sevastopol) on August 23, and the second Ukrainian strike on a significant Russian air defense system in recent weeks indicates that such tactical failures may reflect a wider systemic issue with Russian air defenses in occupied Crimea.[11]

The commander of the Russian 247th Guards Air Assault (VDV) Regiment (7th VDV Division) Vasily Popov was reportedly killed in combat in Ukraine.[18] Vasily Popov likely recently replaced Pyotr Popov as commander of the 247th VDV Regiment in August or September 2023, and Vasily Popov is the second commander of the 247th Regiment to be killed in action in Ukraine after Colonel Konstantin Zizevsky died in February 2022.[19] Elements of the 247th Regiment are reportedly operating in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.[20] ISW has previously assessed that relatively elite VDV forces are conducting limited counterattacks in critical sectors of the front, and Vasily Popov’s death supports ISW’s assessment that these counterattacks will likely attrit these units further.[21]

Guess is V. Popov was a colonel.

Some Russian sources suggested that ongoing tensions between the Russian MoD and the Wagner Group are diminishing Wagner’s ability to operate across the African theater. A Russian insider source claimed on September 12 that “difficult logistics” are forcing Wagner forces in Africa to “make do with local reserves” to continue operations after the rebel coalition Coordination of the Movement of Azawad (CMA) claimed to have captured Bourem, Gao Region, Mali.[30] Russian sources, including a prominent Kremlin-affiliated milblogger, claimed that the Russian MoD and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) deliberately disrupted Wagner's logistics by preventing Wagner from using Russian airbases in Syria to reinforce the Wagner contingent in the Central African Republic (CAR) — reports consistent with ISW’s recent observations.[31] The milblogger claimed that the CMA took advantage of destabilization fueled in part by tensions resulting from the MoD’s ongoing effort to subsume Wagner.[32] The milblogger warned that other armed groups may also take advantage of the destabilization and that the MoD will have to invest resources in the region to avoid reputational fallout.[33] Wagner forces in Africa notably conduct counterterrorism operations, but these operations are often ineffective, and the current Wagner group contingent in MENA is likely insufficient to conduct counterterrorism operations at a scale that could meaningfully contain new or escalating conflicts.[34]
Exclusive: Estonia’s Outgoing Military Spymaster on Russia’s War

Good read. I'll quote some parts, but recommended to read in full.

Russia’s failure in building up their force presence before the war is one of the reasons the war has lasted more than one and a half years, Grosberg said. “The foundations of how Russia planned for the war were clearly wrong. It is the classic phenomena of dictatorships: the dictator is only served the information that people expect him to want to hear. He is not given the truth.” The problem persists still, according to Grosberg, as indicated by the firing of Gen. Ivan Popov, the chief of Russia’s 58th Army, who had given an unvarnished and unflattering appraisal of Russia’s defensive capability in southern Ukraine during the summer.

Although Grosberg’s agency picked up early indications of the 2022 Russian invasion, too, this time they fell short of assessing the start of the war. “When you looked at the composition and concentration of Russia’s forces [along the Ukrainian borders], the answer was that they wouldn’t be able to do it. As it became clear, they really can make very stupid decisions and conduct the operation with only a third of the required forces,” he said.
However, Grosberg doesn’t belong to the school of thought that holds that Russia carries on making all the same mistakes and hasn’t learned anything in 19 months of a faltering campaign . “They are definitely not stupid. Or unable to learn.”

He believes it took Russia at least until the beginning of this year to cope with the errors that originated from the failed invasion plan. As proof of Russia’s adaptability, Grosberg asked when the last mention of a big Ukrainian HIMARS strike occurred, referring to the mobile artillery platform provided last year by the United States, which made an enormous difference on the battlefield, facilitating both the Kharkiv and Kherson counteroffensives. Grosberg answers his own question: It was New Year’s Eve, when Ukraine hit a large gathering of mobilized Russian troops at Mariinka, in the eastern Donetsk region.

So where does the war stand as of now, in the midst of Ukraine’s sluggish but progressing counteroffensive to sever Russia’s land-bridge to Crimea in the south?

Grosberg estimates that Putin has enough resources to continue waging the war against Ukraine “at least as long as it has already been ongoing.” But this depends on several factors outside of Moscow’s and Kyiv’s control. “It depends on if the sanctions hold and how well we can implement them. It largely depends on how well we as the West can endure and how well we recognize that it is not just a piece of land. Ukraine is fighting over the same values that we respect and protect. As long as we understand this, the situation is satisfactory – far from good, but satisfactory.”

Another factor explaining why Russia hasn't been strategically defeated yet is the West’s initial reluctance to arm Ukraine before that abortive airbridge to Hostomel was even attempted. “Now, 550-plus days into the war, we have agreed to supply Ukraine with weapons and equipment that Zelensky asked for on Day 1,” Grosberg said. “If these had been granted right then and had we not delivered heavy equipment a few pieces at a time, the situation could be much different.”

F-16 fighter jets and ATACMS, Grosberg insists, will bring Ukraine “one more step closer to victory” but won’t be “silver bullets” that will decide the war. “Russia is not sitting idly and waiting for the F-16s to arrive. They are taking measures to adapt against them and they have nine months to do so.”

How long will it take Russia to restore its military capabilities after the war? Russia still has roughly 6,000 tanks and between 8,000 and 9,000 armored vehicles in its inventory, Grosberg said. If it needs to “cannibalize” two vehicles in order to get one that actually works, it could still mobilize 2,000 tanks and 3,000 armored vehicles.

“Putin has declared that Russia’s aim is to modernize up to 500 tanks a year. According to this calculation they’d be ready to attack a neighbor again in four years.”

A lot depends on when and how the war will end.

“Let’s take a scenario where the war ends today. Sanctions will be upheld and Russia’s economy will continue to stagnate. [Russian Defence Minister Sergei] Shoigu’s plan is to increase Russia’s army to 1.5 million. When the economy is down and jobs are scarce, it will be easy to recruit for the army. The cycle of training a petty officer is four years. Senior officers will come from the troops with battle experience. It is down to mathematics.”
“If the war stopped today, it would take Russia between three and five years to restore military might and capabilities to the level they would need to strike the next neighboring country.”

At the same time, Grosberg is wary of assessing the progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Russian defenses can collapse in a day but as well may not before the onset of winter. “The hope or expectation for Ukraine to reach the Azov Sea… I wouldn’t dare to say it will happen before the winter.”

The balance of forces is largely equal and now the fight is not over territory but about which side can force their will on the other, Grosberg explained. It’s also about constantly keeping pressure that can eventually cause a breakthrough.

“The reason why the Russian lines broke a year ago in Kharkiv was that troops from one Russian unit witnessed how another unit was retreating. They didn’t know but the decision for the first unit to retreat was tactical and justified. It wasn’t panic. But it caused panic among the lines of the unit seeing it and that led onto the total collapse. It was all about holding constant pressure on Russian forces. Simple as that.”
If Ukraine doesn’t achieve a breakthrough before the winter, a lot will hinge on the weather. Should the season be mild and the ground remain unfrozen, the result will likely be an artillery battle as was the case last year. If it’s a harsh winter, we could see large maneuvers on both sides.
The hard lessons from Ukraine’s summer offensive

The idea that Ukrainian forces, lacking any air cover, would storm through Russian lines was always going to be more of a Hollywood plotline than reality. But three months into the counteroffensive, Zelenskyy and his government are dealing with the reality that it has not achieved the desired decisive breakthrough — and are girding themselves for a drawn-out war.
Ukraine’s armed forces have made slow but significant gains in the south of the country in recent weeks, including a first puncture in Russia’s formidable defensive line. But some officials in western capitals regret that Kyiv has failed to use the opportunity afforded by western weapons stockpiles and possibly peak political support.
Moreover, the meagre results have exposed divisions between Kyiv and some western officials over strategy.
Some US officials have complained privately to the media that Ukraine had failed during training to master modern operations that combine mechanised infantry, artillery and air defence and were too risk averse in their approach.

Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, have pointed out that American forces have themselves never conducted operations on battlefields like Ukraine’s, without air superiority, against a military the size and calibre of Russia’s, and against some of its most advanced weaponry and military technologies.
“Show us at least one officer or sergeant in the American army who has fired, for example, 5,000 to 7,000 rounds with this [M777 howitzer],” Viktor, a battery commander in a Ukrainian artillery unit, told the FT in eastern Ukraine in July, referring to the US-supplied weapon that has helped his troops more accurately target Russian forces.

US General Mark Milley told the BBC on Sunday that while Ukrainian forces were now advancing, they maybe had only a month to six weeks left to pursue their counteroffensive before autumn rains set in. It was the kind of comment that irks Ukrainian officials, who point out that southern Ukraine, where the main counteroffensive thrust is taking place, is relatively dry and its winters less harsh than the rest of their country.
“We’re not Africa with a rainy season,” scoffed Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukraine’s defence intelligence, at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference in Kyiv last Saturday.
Yet amid the defiance and occasional sniping, there is a greater mood of realism among Ukrainian officials that the war will be a slow grind. The question is whether Ukraine’s western backers, who have dug deep into their weapons stockpiles, are committed to giving the country the support and ammunition over the longer haul.

After early unsustainable losses, Ukraine has pivoted back to a campaign of attrition — wearing down the enemy at the front with artillery and destroying supply lines with long-range strikes — while using small infantry assaults to retake Russian positions.
While some in Nato worry this attritional approach sounds like the old Soviet mindset taking hold, Ukrainian officials and western analysts who have studied this summer’s fighting say it is more adapted to conditions on the ground, including Russia’s heavy fortifications and dense minefields, Ukraine’s lack of air power and the prevalence of drones exposing everything on the battlefield.
Ukraine’s new strategy has had some success, but it will be slow-going at best without a sudden Russian collapse. Crucially, it will depend on Ukraine’s allies increasing production of ammunition and other equipment to sustain an attritional war.
“A poor understanding of how Ukraine’s military fights, and of the operating environment writ large, may be leading to false expectations, misplaced advice and unfair criticism in western official circles,” say military analysts Michael Kofman and Rob Lee in a report on the counteroffensive.

In these tough battlefield conditions, Ukrainian forces found it impossible to follow Nato doctrine of combined arms warfare — co-ordinated actions by infantry, armour, artillery and air defence. Kofman and Lee say they are best at fighting in small highly manoeuvrable assault units. They struggle to run operations above the level of company (200 men) or even platoon (20-50). But if Ukrainian forces are to exploit any breach in Russia’s defences, they will need to co-ordinate larger forces and for that they need better training.
One of the main lessons of the counteroffensive so far, say analysts, is that western training of Ukrainian troops, typically of five weeks, is too short. It is not adapted to the way Ukraine fights best or to conditions on the ground, such as the impenetrable minefields or fortifications. And it takes place without the omnipresent drones hovering over the Ukrainian front lines.
“If I only did what [western militaries] taught me, I’d be dead,” says Suleman, a special forces commander in the 78th regiment. He says he had trained with American, British and Polish soldiers, all of whom offered “some good advice” but also “bad advice . . . like their way of clearing trenches. I told them: ‘Guys, this is going to get us killed.’”

On a more positive note, say Watling and Reynolds, with its Nato-standard artillery, Ukraine has become better at detecting and destroying enemy artillery with counter-battery fire, a crucial advantage that can help offset Russia’s greater number of canons. But Ukraine’s advantage will only persist if its western allies expand production of ammunition and reduce the number of artillery systems Ukrainian forces have to operate. It also needs more mine-clearing equipment and armoured vehicles to protect its infantry.
Lastly, the analysts all note, Russian forces are continuing to learn from their foes and adapting their tactics, whether through dispersing their supply lines, greater deployment of drones or in fending off Ukrainian assaults.
Russia’s “big advantage over 18 months ago is they [now] respect our forces and understand our real power”, says a Ukrainian official.

This summer’s fighting has revealed the vital importance of drones to both sides, for reconnaissance and attack. The war is fundamentally different from previous conflicts because the prevalence of drones means that the battlefield is “totally visible in real time for both sides”, Vadym Skibitskyi, deputy head of military intelligence, told the YES conference. Manoeuvres with armour, in particular, are quickly exposed.
It can take as little as 10 minutes to destroy a column of tanks, he said — from the initial spot, to verifying its location, calling in artillery and striking.
Every Ukrainian unit goes to the frontline with drones of its own, often Chinese-made civilian reconnaissance drones costing a few hundred dollars or so-called first-person view racing drones [operated with a headset], that can carry a high-explosive charge. Ukrainian forces have been burning through drones in extraordinary numbers as they attack Russians lines and equipment and Kyiv is struggling to keep up with demand. Rusi estimates Ukraine is losing upwards of 10,000 drones a month.

Next year, Ukraine is likely to take delivery of its first F-16 fighter jets. They will eventually help Ukraine contest the airspace, thereby pushing Russian aviation back from the front lines, but not necessarily give it air superiority, say Kofman and Lee.
Ultimately, the course of the war will be decided by how each side manages its reserves of manpower and equipment. “Our big problem is sustainability,” says a Ukrainian official. “It is a war of resources.”
“Ukraine and Russia are in a slugging match where neither side has a decisive advantage. It’s going to be a long war and Ukraine is now in the messy middle part that happens in every major conflict,” says one senior western official.
“Militaries very rarely deliver decisive outcomes, they win battles,” the official adds. In attritional conflicts such as this one, “it’s economies that win wars”.

North Korea may be able to boost Russia’s supply of artillery munitions for the war in Ukraine, but that is not likely to make a big difference, the top American military officer said as he arrived in Norway for NATO meetings that began Saturday and will focus in part on the conflict.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the recent meeting in Russia between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably lead North Korea to provide Soviet-era 152 mm artillery rounds to Moscow. But he said it was not yet clear how many or how soon.

“Would it have a huge difference? I’m skeptical of that,” Milley told reporters traveling with him. He said that while he does not want to play down the weapons assistance too much, “I doubt that it would be decisive.”

Ukraine is methodically gathering data on its hodge-podge of Western cannons and ammunition to ensure gun crews can put fire on targets, said Lt. Col. Yurii Patskan, an officer in Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Rocket Forces and Field Artillery.

All Western howitzers given to Ukraine are of the 155mm caliber. But different countries produce shells with different quantities or propellant, which means the range charts for calculating cannon elevation may be inaccurate if a shell from one country is loaded into a gun from another. In extreme cases, the shell may not even fit in the gun. At least one Ukrainian soldier described how they were forced to manually cut down the fins of a French-supplied mortar to get it to fit in their Italian-supplied mortar tube.

To fix this problem, Ukraine has built a testing range manned by a team made up of ballistic specialists, IT workers, and a weather specialist, Patskan told Defense One on the sidelines of arms trade show DSEI.

The team works to gather data from cannons taken from the frontline with different foreign-produced amunition, then calculate what types of ballistic qualities a shell from one country has when it’s fired from a howitzer from another country.

But an even more pressing problem is the threat posed by Russian counter-battery fire and loitering munitions.

Patskan said Russian counter-battery fire could arrive within minutes of a Ukrainian howitzer blast, though it depends on the section of the front. And Russian artillery directed by drones is not as fast, he said. Russia uses a mix of capabilities to find Ukrainian artillery, including powerful radars.

Patskan also said Russian Lancet loitering munitions, which cost less than $40,000, are a threat to gun crews, whose own howitzers can cost millions of dollars. But Ukraine is using nets to catch the drones before they strike artillery.

“We can’t use our maneuverability” when the Russians use Lancet drones, Patskan said, which negates a major advantage in modern warfare and forces Ukraine to keep its guns hidden from Russian drones patrolling the sky. However, Patskan said, anti-drone guns and electronic warfare are possible defenses.

Still, amid the gleaming arms stands of DSEI, Patskan said the message of the threat of loitering munitions isn’t always getting through. One anti-drone producer he spoke to proposed using its net-firing gun to solve Ukraine's Russian drone problem, only to realize the solution is incapable of stopping a drone like the Lancet, he said.

Patskan added that Ukraine now has no issue getting new artillery barrels for its guns, which has previously been a problem due to Ukrainian gun crews wearing down barrels with fire rates far exceeding what the guns were designed for.

And Western artilleries are looking on and learning, according to a British and French officer who appeared with Patskan at a panel at DSEI.

Britain must learn to “operate in digital darkness,” said British Brigadier Neil Budd, referring to the ability of adversaries to monitor, locate, and jam troops with electronic warfare.

“To think that we're just going to walk in and be able to do what we want, and exploit all our digital systems upfront, I think is naive.”

Estimates of the damage done ran into billions of pounds and raised the question: is Ukraine getting ready to retake Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014?

Crimea is a Russian fortress, so it is important not to get carried away.

"The strategy has two main goals," says Oleksandr Musiienko, from Kyiv's Centre for Military and Legal Studies.

"To establish dominance in the north-western Black Sea and to weaken Russian logistical opportunities for their defence lines in the south, near Tokmak and Melitopol."

In other words, operations in Crimea go hand-in-glove with Ukraine's counter-offensive in the south.

"They depend on each other," Musiienko says.

On Wednesday, long-range cruise missiles, supplied by the UK and France, dealt a heavy blow to Russia's much-vaunted Black Sea fleet at its home port of Sevastopol.

Satellite images of the scene at the Sevmorzavod dry dock repair facility showed two blackened vessels.
On Friday, Britain's Ministry of Defence said a large amphibious landing ship, the Minsk, had "almost certainly been functionally destroyed".

Next to it, one of Russia's Kilo class diesel-electric submarines, the Rostov-on-Don - used to launch Kalibr cruise missiles hundreds of miles into Ukraine - had "likely suffered catastrophic damage".

Perhaps equally importantly the dry docks - vital for maintenance of the entire Black Sea fleet - would likely be out of use "for many months", the ministry said.

On Saturday, Ukraine offered tantalising new details.

It said special forces had played a key role, using boats and an unspecified "underwater delivery means" to get ashore, before using "special technical assets" to help identify and target the vessels.

But with the fires barely out in Sevastopol there were more dramatic night-time explosions as Ukraine blew up one of Russia's most modern air defence systems, an S-400, around 40 miles (64km) north at Yevpatoria.

This was another sophisticated operation that used a combination of drones and Ukrainian-made Neptune missiles to confuse and destroy a key component of Russia's air defences on the Crimean Peninsula.

A significant side note: Russian attempts to use exactly this technique over Kyiv have generally failed, largely thanks to the presence of US Patriot interceptor missiles.

Thursday was the second time in less than a month that Ukraine has knocked out an S-400 surface-to-air missile system on the peninsula.

On 23 August, at Olenivka, on the western tip of the Tarkhankut Peninsula, Ukraine managed to destroy another launcher and a nearby radar station.

Russia was thought to have not more than six S-400 launchers in Crimea. Now it has lost two.

But these are only some of Ukraine's recent operations.

With more advanced weapons thought to be in the pipeline, Musiienko expects Ukraine to launch ever more sophisticated operations.

"When we get ATACMS (tactical ballistic missiles) from the United States, I think we will try to use - in one attack - ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and also drones," he says.

"And that will be a serious problem for Russia's air defence system," he adds.

"We will try to blind them."

Each successful attack, he says, makes the next one easier. "We are clearing the way, and it's becoming more simple."

Does any of this mean that Kyiv is getting closer to its goal of liberating Crimea?

"It's getting closer, but there's still a lot to do," says retired Ukrainian navy captain Andriy Ryzhenko.

"We need to liberate the Sea of Azov coast and cut the land corridor," he says, referring to Ukraine's slow, grinding offensive in the south.

Cutting off Crimea would be catastrophic for Russia and provide a welcome boost to Ukraine's difficult southern offensive.

So is all this a prelude to a Ukrainian effort to retake the peninsula?

Observers here in Kyiv are trying not getting ahead of themselves.

"I think this could be a preparation for the liberation of Crimea," Musiienko. "But I understand that it will take time.

"What we're trying to do right now is clean the way to Crimea."

On Saturday, the Secretary of National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, said Ukraine was using every means at its disposal to force Russia to abandon Crimea.

"It looks like if the Russians do not leave Crimea on their own," he said in a radio interview, "we will have to 'smoke them out'."

Russia is "likely able to generate a significant stockpile" of air launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) and there is a "realistic possibility" that it will use them against Ukrainian infrastructure targets, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence said Saturday.

"Between October 2022 and March 2023, Russia focused long-range strikes against Ukraine’s national energy infrastructure," the defense ministry said in the statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Open source reports suggest that since April 2023, ALCM expenditure rates have reduced, while Russian leaders have highlighted efforts to increase the rate of cruise missile production," the defence ministry said.

It concluded, "Russia is therefore likely able to generate a significant stockpile of ALCMs. There is a realistic possibility Russia will again focus these weapons against Ukrainian infrastructure targets over the winter."

A Ukrainian commander fighting for control of the eastern city of Bakhmut says capturing the village of Andriivka Friday was a key step for Kyiv's troops.

Andriivka is “a necessary bridgehead for further advancement, because the task of Ukrainian forces in this area is to surround Bakhmut, and without Andriivka it is impossible to achieve this,” Maksym Zhorin, deputy commander of the 3rd Assault Brigade, said on his Telegram channel.
Zhorin also noted that liberating Andriivka means “full control over the railroad, which is a stronghold for further offensive.”

Ukrainian President Zelensky congratulated the 3rd Assault Brigade and other forces involved in retaking Andriivka in his nightly address on Friday, calling it “a significant and much-needed result.”

Zelensky also noted that active battles continue around the villages of Klishchiivka and Kurdiumivka near Bakhmut, which is located in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region.

Ukraine’s General Staff noted that “the Defense Forces have partial success in the area of Klishchiivka” in a daily update on Friday.

More attacks on Russian ships will be carried out, a Ukrainian minister has promised.

Drone production has increased 100-fold in 2023, and this will rise to up to 140-fold by the end of the year, said digital minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who played a key role in building the country's drone industry.

Ukraine is testing AI systems that can locate targets several kilometres away and guide drones to them even if external communications are disrupted by electronic warfare measures, he said.

A culture of lying within the Russian military is preventing its victory in Ukraine, according to a Moscow politician.

False reports have led to "poor decisions at many levels" of command, said Russian parliament deputy Lieutenant General Andrei Gurulev.

He complained Russian troops have been forced to retreat by up to 10km in some areas and Ukrainian forces were making use of "well-equipped", abandoned Russian defensive positions.

The Ukrainian army has become more competent at clearing mines, said the former Deputy Commander of the Southern Military District.

Its air defences are effectively preventing Russian helicopters from using anti-tank missiles, he added.

The lieutenant general also raised concerns over Ukrainian drones: "They use them wisely, you see these attacks not only at the front, but also in our deep rear."

Mr Gurulev previously leaked an audio message in which former commander Major General Ivan Popov expressed grievances over the lack of support for Russian forces, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

The chance of a serious disaster at the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant in Ukraine has risen to one in five, a leading engineer at the Soviet-era facility has warned.
A recent exodus of top staff and the power station’s use as a military base by Chechen troops are among the reasons why a “Fukushima scenario” could happen at any time, according to one of the ten most senior engineers at the plant near Zaporizhzhia, which had a prewar workforce of 11,000.
The shortage of expertise is so acute that janitors, secretaries and “blue-collar” workers are posing as engineers in lab coats to dupe international observers into believing that the Russians have the necessary staff to avert disaster, according to sources with knowledge of conditions inside the facility.

Ukrainian advances in western Zaporizhia Oblast have likely forced the Russian command to prioritize the Russian defense there and laterally redeploy elements of a relatively elite formation away from the Russian defense south of Bakhmut. North Ossetian volunteer battalions “Storm Ossetia” and “Alania,” which are operating in western Zaporizhia Oblast, posted an image on September 16 purporting to show a small detachment of the Russian 83rd Separate Guards Air Assault (VDV) Brigade in Nesteryanka (on the western shoulder of the current Ukrainian breach in western Zaporizhia Oblast).[4] Elements of the 83rd Brigade deployed to defend against Ukrainian counteroffensive operations around Klishchiivka in late June and were observed in combat in the area in late August.[5] Elements of the 83rd Brigade were reportedly still operating in the Bakhmut area as of September 11, although elements of the brigade may have been split across two different sectors of the front.[6] Klishchiivka has been a focal point of fighting in the Bakhmut area in recent weeks, and the redeployment of any elements of the 83rd VDV Brigade amid Ukrainian advances near Klishchiivka suggests a deep concern about Ukrainian advances in western Zaporizhia Oblast and the Russian prioritization of the defense there.

ISW has previously assessed that Ukrainian counteroffensive operations along several lines of effort would force the Russian command to prioritize certain sectors of the front and conduct lateral redeployments that offer Ukraine opportunities for exploitation.[7] Ukrainian counteroffensive operations have fixed relatively elite units and formations to the area, including elements of the 98th VDV Division, the 83rd VDV Brigade, the 11th VDV Brigade, the 31st VDV Brigade, the 106th VDV Division, and the 364th Spetsnaz Brigade (Russian General Staff Main Directorate).[8] Russian forces have thus far been unwilling to send these relatively elite formations to aid in the critical defensive effort in western Zaporizhia Oblast, and Ukrainian operations around Bakhmut appear to continue preventing the Russian command from doing so at scale. ISW will publish a review of the strategic significance of how Ukrainian operations have fixed Russian forces to the Bakhmut area in an upcoming special edition.

Ukrainian forces have likely made a significant tactical breach along a section of the current Russian defense layer in the Robotyne area over the past several weeks that they continue to widen. Ukrainian forces have continued offensive operations past a section of the Russian defensive layer west of Verbove since penetrating it on September 4 and have widened their breach along a 2.6km section of those Russian defensive positions.[11] The continued absence of observed Ukrainian heavy equipment and vehicles past this defensive layer continues to indicate that Ukrainian forces have yet to complete a breakthrough of this defensive layer, however.[12] Ukrainian officials have indicated that the series of Russian defensive positions currently ahead of the Ukrainian advance may be less challenging than the initial Russian defensive layer that Ukrainian forces broke through to the north.[13] Russian forces had concentrated the majority of their combat power at those forward-most Russian defensive positions to defend against Ukrainian counteroffensive operations, and these Russian forces have likely suffered heavy losses and conducted fighting withdrawals to prepared positions behind the current defensive layer.[14] ISW has long assessed that Russian forces lack the manpower to man the entire multi-echeloned Russian defensive fortification systems in southern Ukraine, and the Russian forces defending the current layer of defense are likely elements of formations that have been fighting in the area without operational-level unit rotation since the start of the counteroffensive or elements of formations that laterally transferred from elsewhere along the front.[15]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that we must "prepare ourselves for a long war" in Ukraine, as Kyiv's counteroffensive against Russia continues to make only marginal gains.

“Most wars last longer than is expected when they first start. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves for a long war in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost, published on Sunday.
“We are all wishing for a quick peace. But at the same time, we must recognize: If President Zelensky and the Ukrainians give up the fight, their country would not exist anymore. If President Putin and Russia laid down their weapons, we would have peace,” the NATO chief said.

“The easiest way to end this war would be if Putin withdrew his troops," he added.

Also in the interview, Stoltenberg reiterated that it is just a matter of time before Ukraine joins NATO.

"Ukraine will become a member of NATO – all allies have made that clear," he said, adding that Ukraine will need safety guarantees when the war ends, otherwise "history could repeat itself."

The president of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, is the person considered most responsible for bringing his country into the NATO alliance — and Sweden, too, which is awaiting ratification — following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Biden has consulted him about Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin, whom Mr. Niinisto has met numerous times.
In a long interview in his light-filled modernist residence in Helsinki, Mr. Niinisto warned European leaders and citizens not to become complacent over the risks of escalation in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine will last a long time, he said, and wars can take unexpected paths, even toward the use of nuclear weapons.
The invasion, Mr. Niinisto said, was “a wake-up call” for Europe and NATO.
“Well, it was ringing loudly in February 2022,” he said. “But do you hear it anymore? That clearly? That might be a good question — whether all Europeans realize that this is a European issue.”

Six Ukrainian deputy defense ministers were fired Monday following the dismissal two weeks ago of Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in a corruption scandal, officials said, as heavy fighting continued in the east.

Deputy defense ministers including Hanna Maliar, Vitalii Deyneha and Denys Sharapov, as well as the state secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Kostiantyn Vashchenko, were fired, according to the Telegram account of Taras Melnychuk, permanent representative of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Melnychuk provided no explanation of the firings, but the government has been investigating accusations of corruption in the military related to purchasing equipment. Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar lawmaker who took over as defense minister, did not immediately issue a statement.

We have verified nine social media videos along the frontline near Verbove.

Four of the videos show Ukrainian forces breaching Russian defences north of Verbove.

However, these show incursions, not that Ukraine has managed to take control of the area.

So far it has only been Ukrainian infantry getting through, and we're not seeing Ukrainian armoured columns pouring through, exploiting the gap and holding the ground taken.

"The problem that the Ukrainians have now", says Dr Marina Miron at King's College London War Studies Department, "is to get an opening big enough to get more troops in".

Meanwhile Russia has been moving in reinforcements, and this battlefront is dynamic, it's moving, and Russia could still reverse Ukraine's gains.

We've geolocated a Russian drone video which backs up reports that its elite airborne forces, the VDV, have deployed close to the town of Verbove - a move aimed at plugging any gaps created by Ukraine's counter-offensive.

"Ukrainian forces continue to face resistance from Russian forces on the battlefield," says Kateryna Stepanenko, Russia analyst at the London-based think tank, RUSI.

"Alongside artillery fire, drone strikes and Russian defensive structures - Russian forces are also extensively using electronic warfare measures that aim to impede Ukrainian signals and drone usage."

Ukraine has barely progressed more than 10% of the way to the coast, but the reality is much more nuanced than that.
Russia's forces are exhausted and possibly demoralised after sustaining three months of intensive attacks, including long-range strikes that are targeting their supply lines.

If Ukraine can break through the remaining Russian defences and reach as far as the town of Tokmak then this would bring Russia's rail and road supply routes for Crimea within range of its artillery.

If they can do that, then this counter offensive can be judged a qualified success.

It may not end the war, which is likely to drag on well into 2024 and perhaps longer - but it would seriously undermine Moscow's war effort and put Ukraine in a strong position for when peace talks eventually begin.
The Ukraine war is revolutionizing military technology. Whoever masters it wins.

Militaries around the world are closely following the fighting to gain insights into 21st-century warfare, knowing that they are watching a trial run of technologies that will become more ubiquitous and important in future conflicts. “We are studying deeply not just Ukraine but also the Indo-Pacific and what’s happening with technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Gen. James E. Rainey, commander of the Army Futures Command, told me. “The key is figuring out what won’t change, what is changing fundamentally and how to apply those insights.”
It’s not easy to draw conclusions while the war is still going on and both sides have an incentive to keep secret basic information about casualties, ammunition expenditures and other vital metrics. This helps explain the wide divergence of opinions among military analysts about the conflict and its lessons.
Stephen Biddle, a professor of international relations at Columbia University, argued recently in Foreign Affairs that the war has been characterized more by tactical continuity than by change. “Although the Ukraine war has seen plenty of new equipment, its use has not yet brought transformational results,” he wrote.
Biddle has a point: The war in Ukraine shows that the age of industrial warfare hasn’t passed. Countries still need lots of artillery, tanks and other old-fashioned weapons. The war has been a wake-up call to Western countries, which have not been producing enough artillery ammunition and other munitions in recent years. The U.S. Army is now ramping up its production of artillery rounds.

But the war has also shown the limitations of sheer mass in warfare: If having lots of troops and tanks were enough to win, the Russians would have taken Kyiv long ago. Ukraine’s success in holding them off, initially employing handheld weapons systems such as Javelin and Stinger missiles, highlights the profound changes underway.
T.X. Hammes, a distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University, argues that, although about 90 percent of the weapons systems being employed by both sides — aircraft, tanks, artillery, armored personnel vehicles and the like — were developed and often produced in the 20th century, the other 10 percent will have a transformational impact.
Analysts who believe that we are seeing revolutionary developments point, first and foremost, to the extensive use of drones in the Ukraine war — far more than in any previous conflict. This has, in fact, turned into the war of the drones. “We may well one day look at the Ukraine war and unmanned systems (‘drones’) in much the same way history looks back at the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s as a historic proving ground for the Blitzkrieg to come,” writes Peter Warren Singer, a senior fellow at the New America think tank.

Space operations are also making a significant contribution to the war. Both sides rely on imagery from satellites, as well as drones, to surveil the battlefield; satellites are able to provide a broader picture and peer far behind enemy lines, while drones offer a more granular view that addresses the specific needs of front-line units. The Ukrainians don’t have their own satellites, but they do have access to U.S. intelligence imagery as well as commercial satellite imagery. All this technology — whether in low-flying drones or satellites in space — makes it harder than ever for either side to achieve the crucial element of surprise in battle.
“The battlefield is much more transparent,” said Lawrence Freedman, an emeritus professor of war studies at King’s College in London. “You can’t gather vast numbers of tanks to press ahead because everyone knows where they are and what they’re doing.” For now, at least, that is reinforcing the advantage of whichever side is on the defensive — as the Russians learned during their initial invasion and the Ukrainians are now discovering during their counteroffensive.
The largest and most important satellite service is Starlink, owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which provides internet access all over the world, including in Ukraine. As of July, SpaceX had some 4,500 satellites in orbit, with plans to eventually expand to as many as 42,000 satellites. Starlink represents a “breakthrough” in military communications, said Andrey Liscovich, a Ukrainian former Uber executive who is helping supply the Ukrainian military with nonlethal technology. Starlink signals are much harder to disrupt or trace than radio communications, and they allow the most remote units to connect with anyone on the planet.

While drones and Starlink garner most of the public attention, another transformational aspect of the war has been taken almost for granted: the success of Ukrainian air defenses. I happened to be in Kyiv in May during what was then the biggest air attack on the city to date: The Russians reportedly fired six hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, nine Kalibr cruise missiles, three Iskander ballistic missiles and numerous Shahed attack drones. Yet, miraculously, there were no casualties. The Russian attack was stopped by Ukraine’s mishmash of old Soviet air defenses and sophisticated new Western air defenses, including the American Patriot, the American-Norwegian NASAMS and the German IRIS-T and Gepard Flakpanzer, each optimized for different kinds of air and missile threats.
Russian missiles are still able to get through, particularly when fired at areas that lack the density of air defenses deployed around Kyiv. On Sept. 6, for example, a horrific Russian missile strike on a crowded market in Kostiantynivka, in the eastern Donetsk region, killed at least 17 people and injured 32 more. But Ukraine’s Air Force claims that, in recent months, it has been able to intercept about 90 percent of Russian cruise missiles and drones and 80 percent of air- and ground-launched ballistic missiles.
“It’s been the most successful battlefield use of missile defense to date,” Tom Karako, a missile defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me. From Karako’s perspective, the Ukraine experience shows that “a little air defense goes a long way” and that “you don’t have to be perfect to have a strategic effect.” Case in point: Last winter, the Russians failed to render Ukrainian cities uninhabitable by targeting their heating and electrical systems, even though they did manage to temporarily disable some utilities. The Russians might try again this winter, and the key to stopping them will be to keep Ukraine supplied with ammunition for its air-defense systems.

Army Gen. Mark Milley said a quick outcome to the war in Ukraine is unlikely, noting that a Ukrainian victory in the conflict is a “very high bar” and would take a “very long time.”

A brief 🧵thread on the Novoprokopivka-Robotyne-Verbove area updates: Through a comparative analysis of images captured on September 18th and those taken nearly two weeks ago, the landscape changes confirm the combat area and direction of current advances by the Ukrainian army

2/ Observing the emergence of new scorch marks, signs of shelling, and the defoliation of tree lines provides a rough estimate of combat engagements and active fire exchange areas. This aligns closely with the map provided by @DefMon3
3/ This is a reference map that can be used independently to verify the data. Not all changes are marked, especially those discussed in the previous thread about Novoprokopivka. Today's map primarily focuses on the eastern and northeastern parts of Novoprokopivka
4/ Using elevation maps and satellite imagery, it's evident that Ukrainian forces are approaching russian defensive positions, including AT trenches and dragon's teeth. Breaching these positions would be significant, though whether this area becomes the main focus remains unclear

There are some maps provided at that tweet.

A unit from #WagnerGroup is reportedly going back into Ukraine. Details still appear unclear.

First American M1 Abrams tanks will arrive in Ukraine in "the coming days," a senior US military official said on Tuesday, adding all 31 promised will be in country "in the coming weeks."@felschwartz reporting from Ramstein Air Base.

NEW: U.S. senior military official says the 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks will be start to be delivered to Ukrainian in coming days and all will be delivered in coming weeks. The U.S. first announced it would send tanks back in January 2023

NYT investigation says that the deadly Sept 6 strike on Kostyantynivka in Ukrainian-controlled Donbas was likely caused by a malfunction of a Ukrainian Buk air-defense missile.

A high-end precision CNC machine from German manufacturer Spinner is currently on the way to Russia via Turkey for suspected use in high volume production of Russian ammo

I started my visit to the U.S. with the most important thing: meeting our wounded warriors at Staten Island University Hospital.

I thanked them all for their service and wished them a speedy recovery.

I also thanked and awarded medical personnel and the Kind Deeds foundation.

The 37-year-old spy chief, freshly promoted by President Volodymyr Zelensky to three-star rank, is looking calm and rested. He says it is Russia, not Ukraine, that has reason to fret. Its first defensive line in the all-important southern axis in Zaporizhia has already been pierced in places, meaning that the operation to sever the land connections between Russia and Crimea may yet be achieved before winter sets in. Ukraine may already have drawn on limited numbers of its reserve troops, but Russia is now, in seeming desperation, known to be committing under-strength reserves that it had not planned to deploy until late October. “Contrary to what the Russian Federation declares, it has absolutely no strategic reserve,” the general says. Russia’s 25th Combined Arms Army, now being prematurely deployed in the eastern front around Lyman and Kupyansk, has only 80% of the manpower and 55% of the equipment it was supposed to have, he says.

The spy chief concedes that Ukraine risks running down its own resources too. “We are dependent on external players. Russia is mostly dependent on itself.” A long war is therefore dangerous for Ukraine because it exhausts not only its domestic resources, but also those of Western backers. Some Ukrainian officials are beginning to detect a shift in the readiness of partners to continue support at the same level. Others say ammunition deliveries could soon dry up, forcing an end to offensive operations. But General Budanov rejects both conclusions. He says he has “good intelligence” about political realities in the West. “It is still absolutely undecided how long the West will be able to maintain a sufficient supply of resources to us,” he says. “Warehouses in Western countries are not completely empty. No matter what anyone says. We can see this very clearly as an intelligence agency.”

There are three main objectives for Ukraine’s new drone campaign against Russia: to exhaust Russia’s air-defence systems; to disable military transport and bombers; and to damage military production facilities, such as its recent operation that hit a factory producing rocket fuel in Tver region, just north of Moscow. “We want to get them out of their comfort zone.” A secondary aim is psychological, seeding disquiet among the population and disrupting normal economic processes inside Russia. The closure of big airports in St Petersburg and Moscow has, for example, become an almost daily occurrence.

The spy chief says he is working on a limited deterrence and retaliation pose to counter Russia’s expected winter campaign of missile and drone strikes on infrastructure. “Let them start. They will also receive an answer.” But he does not expect his enemy ever to give up out of choice. War has been a constant for Russia throughout its history, he says. There can be no discussion of a ceasefire or a peace without Ukraine’s military establishing its own facts on the ground. “We understand we will not end the war with a victory parade in Moscow. But neither should Moscow ever hope to hold one in Kyiv.”

Ukraine experienced a "massive wave" of Russian missile and drone attacks in the early hours of this morning - which might have been aimed at attacking Western supplies of aid, Sky News military analyst Sean Bell has said.

"Lviv seems to have been the main target. One person has died there, there was a major fire in an industrial warehouse there which caused huge damage.

"A man and woman were trapped underneath the rubble. Amazingly the woman emerged completely unscathed.

"The real question is why have the Russians attacked Lviv, it is a long way away from anywhere. It looks very likely this is about Russia attacking Western supplies of aid into the country."

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has urged allied defence leaders to "dig deep" and provide more air defence systems to Ukraine.

"Air defence is saving lives," Mr Austin said as he opened the meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at Ramstein air base in Germany.

"So I urge this group to continue to dig deep on ground-based air defence for Ukraine. We must continue to push hard to provide Ukraine with air-defence systems and interceptors."

Denmark will reportedly donate another 45 tanks to Ukraine.

The donation will consist of 30 Leopard 1 tanks and 15 T-72 tanks, news agency Ritzau reported, citing the country's defence minister, Troels Lund Poulsen.

Earlier this year Denmark teamed up with the Netherlands to jointly donate 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

The tanks, which they said would be bought from a third party and refurbished, were expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2024.

Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany announced in February that they would pool resources to restore at least 100 old Leopard 1 tanks from industry stocks and supply them to Ukraine this year and next.

Ukraine’s liberation of Klishchiivka and Andriivka south of Bakhmut may have degraded the Russian defense in the area south of Bakhmut and could have rendered combat ineffective as many as three Russian brigades according to Ukrainian military officials. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated on September 18 that Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) and Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut) were important elements of the Russian Bakhmut-Horlivka defensive line that Ukrainian forces “breached.”[1] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash stated on September 17 that Ukraine’s liberation of Klishchiivka will allow Ukrainian forces to control Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) supplying the Russian force grouping in the Bakhmut area — likely referring to Ukrainian forces’ ability to establish fire control over the T0513 Bakhmut-Horlivka highway.[2] ISW is currently unable independently to evaluate the strength and extent of the Russian defensive fortifications in the Bakhmut area, although Russian forces have likely fortified their defense lines near Bakhmut less heavily than they did in southern Ukraine. Russian forces south of Bakhmut are also likely battle-weary from the recent efforts to hold Klishchiivka and Andriivka, and the Ukrainian capture of two settlements defending a key Russian GLOC supporting Bakhmut indicates that these forces will likely struggle to replenish their combat strength and defend against any further Ukrainian offensive activity south of Bakhmut. There are no immediate indications that the liberation of Klishchiivka and Andriivka will portend a higher rate of Ukrainian advance south of Bakhmut, however, and the Russian defense of positions west of the T0513 will likely continue to present challenges for Ukrainian forces in the area.

The Ukrainian liberation of two villages that Russian forces were fighting hard to hold could correspond with the severe degradation of the Russian units defending them, as Ukrainian advances in western Zaporizhia Oblast appear to correspond with the significant degradation of defending Russian units and formations in that sector of the front. Russian forces defending in western Zaporizhia Oblast since the start of the counteroffensive have done so largely without operational-level unit rotations and have likely suffered compounding losses.[3] Elements of the Russian 42nd Motorized Rifle Division’s 71st, 70th, and 291st Motorized Rifle Regiments (58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District)routinely repelled Ukrainian assaults and engaged in various “combat clashes,“ including limited engagements and some counterattacks, during the first phase of the counteroffensive from June to August 2023.[4] In mid-to-late August, Ukrainian forces began breaking through the initial Russian defensive layer that these elements of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division had spent considerable amounts of manpower, personnel, and effort to hold.[5] Russian reporting and footage suggest that many of these elements of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division have since withdrawn to positions behind a subsequent Russian defensive layer between Verbove (18km southeast of Orikhiv) and Solodka Balka (20km south of Orikhiv) and now mainly shell advancing Ukrainian units.[6] The absence of recent reports and footage of these elements participating in combat engagements in western Zaporizhia Oblast suggests that casualties sustained during the first phases of the Ukrainian counteroffensive rendered them combat ineffective. Elements of the 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment reportedly temporarily withdrew to a rear area during the Ukrainian breakthrough and returned to frontline positions in early September, suggesting that Ukrainian advances had degraded this unit enough to compel the Russian command to give it time to refit in the rear — which would be one of the very few unit rotations ISW has observed on this sector of the front.[7] Elements of the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet), which also held forward positions at the initial Russian defensive layer during the earlier phases of the counteroffensive, similarly appear to be deployed further behind the Russian defensive layer ahead of the current Ukraine advance.[8] Elements of the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade reportedly engaged in close combat during the Ukrainian push through Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv), and Russian milbloggers maintain that some elements of the unit hold positions near the southern outskirts of Robotyne.[9]

Ukrainian counteroffensive operations may have resulted in the particularly severe degradation of critical elements of the Russian elastic defense in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Elements of the Russian 22nd and 45th Separate Spetsnaz Brigades appeared to be responsible for counterattacking against significant Ukrainian advances in the Robotyne area during the earlier phases of the counteroffensive and likely suffered heavy losses in these operations.[10] Russian reporting and footage of the Robotyne area in recent weeks has largely omitted mention of these Spetsnaz brigades, suggesting that this degradation may have severely impacted their ability to continue counterattacking. A prominent milblogger claimed that elements of the 45th Spetsnaz Brigade were still operating near the frontline as of September 12, however.[11] Elements of the Russian 7th Guards Mountain Airborne (VDV) Division that laterally deployed to the Robotyne area in mid-August during the Ukrainian breakthrough now appear to be responsible for conducting counterattacks against the most forward advances of the Ukrainian breach.[12] Russian sources routinely claim that VDV elements, which may include elements of the 76th Guards VDV Division that also laterally redeployed to the area, repel Ukrainian assaults and conduct counterattacks near Robotyne[13] The degradation of the elements of the 22nd and 45th Separate Spetsnaz Brigades initially responsible for counterattacking in the Robotyne area likely prompted the Russian command to laterally redeploy these elements of the 7th and 76th VDV Divisions to assume responsibility for counterattacking. The Russian elastic defense requires one echelon of Russian forces to slow a Ukrainian tactical advance while a second echelon of forces rolls back that advance through counterattacking. Counterattacking requires significant morale and relatively high combat capabilities, and the Russian military appears to rely on relatively elite VDV units and formations for this undertaking, possibly at the expense of heavily degrading these forces.[14]

ISW has not directly observed the level of degradation among the Russian units referenced above and it is possible that some have suffered heavier losses than others. It is also possible that the Russians have used the arrival of elements of the 76th and 7th VDV Divisions to conduct belated unit rotations of their tired frontline units. The current battlefield geometry between the Ukrainian advance and current Russian defensive positions may also be contributing to the apparent absence of these likely degraded units from combat engagements, as the gap between Ukrainian advances and Russian defensive positions may result in less direct combat engagements. Ukrainian forces may engage these units in more direct combat as they further advance into and past the current Russian defensive layer. It is thus too soon to assess with high confidence that the initial defenders in this sector have been rendered combat ineffective, but the evidence currently available points in that direction.

Ukrainian forces have breached the main Russian defensive line in the southeast of the country with armored vehicles, a significant milestone in the 3½-month counteroffensive aimed at cutting Russia’s occupying army in two.
Ukrainian troops overcame antitank obstacles including ditches and concrete blocks known as dragon’s teeth near the village of Verbove in the Zaporizhzhia region, allowing armored vehicles to press through, an officer in Ukraine’s air-assault forces in the area said. Open-source intelligence assessments of Russian videos showing artillery strikes on Ukrainian vehicles appeared to confirm the breakthrough.
The breach is small and heavily contested. The Russians are hammering the area with artillery and launching counterattacks. Ukrainian units are taking heavy casualties.
But if the Ukrainians can establish a firm foothold, they could seek to drive more armored vehicles through the gap and punch into less heavily fortified areas.
“We are pushing through,” the Ukrainian officer said. “We are destroying them. But the price…”

In late August, Ukrainian paratroopers penetrated the main Russian defensive line near Verbove, an agricultural village to the east of Robotyne, and began fighting their way through trenches, antitank obstacles and minefields.
Russia responded to the Ukrainian advance by deploying some of its strongest airborne units to the front, according to several Ukrainian officers in the area. The Ukrainian air-assault officer said radio intercepts indicated that Russia had sent up reserves from Tokmak, a Russian logistics hub and key Ukrainian target to the south, leaving only a small garrison there.
Russian defense near Verbove is particularly fierce. They are using phosphorus munitions that explode in the sky like fireworks then rain down on earth, burning whatever they land on. The Russians have used them to burn tree lines where Ukrainian troops captured trenches, forcing them to abandon the positions under artillery fire, the officer said.

But the Ukrainians pressed forward. Their infantry stormed into enemy trenches and cleared them, holding them under artillery and tank fire and counterattacks by infantry, according to Ukrainian soldiers there and videos that they shared online.
The immediate result of the armored vehicles’ breaching of the line was unclear. Some of them were destroyed or damaged, the officer said. Ukraine has lost many Western-donated armored vehicles, but their armor has protected troops inside, allowing them to continue fighting.
If Ukrainian units can establish a foothold, they will look to expand it so that they can push through more armored vehicles, then move forward artillery to blast a wider channel.

The Russian troops in the front-line trenches are often of poor quality and known as “earth movers” by the Ukrainians, Ivanenko said. But when Ukrainian infantry troops move in to seize trenches, the Russians hit back with stronger assault troops.
Russian positions are often mined and packed with equipment abandoned by fleeing soldiers, from ammunition to grenades and night-vision goggles.
The path ahead remains fraught for Ukraine. Their forces have been depleted by the long and bloody fight across open farming fields. Russia is bolstering fortifications, including trenches, behind the areas where Ukraine is concentrating its assaults.
“We’re fighting with everything we’ve got,” said a second Ukrainian officer in the area.

Ukrainian armored vehicles are operating beyond the final line of the Russian defensive layer that Ukrainian forces in western Zaporizhia Oblast are currently penetrating, although ISW is not yet prepared to assess that Ukrainian forces have broken fully through this Russian defensive layer. Geolocated footage posted on September 21 indicates that Ukrainian armored vehicles advanced south of the Russian anti-tank ditches and dragon’s teeth obstacles that are part of a tri-layered defense and engaged in limited combat immediately west of Verbove (18km southeast of Orikhiv).[1] It is unclear if Ukrainian forces retain these positions, however. This is the first observed instance of Ukrainian forces operating armored vehicles beyond the Russian tri-layer defense.[2] The presence of Ukrainian armored vehicles beyond the final line of the current Russian defensive layer indicates that the Ukrainians have secured their breach of the first two lines of this layer sufficiently to operate vehicles through the breach. Ukrainian forces have likely suppressed Russian artillery and other anti-tank systems in the area enough to bring their vehicles forward.[3] The Ukrainian ability to bring armored vehicles to and through the most formidable Russian defenses intended to stop them and to operate these vehicles near prepared Russian defensive positions are important signs of progress in the Ukrainian counteroffensive.[4] Additional geolocated footage published on September 20 and 21 indicates that Ukrainian forces also advanced west and southwest of Verbove.[5]

Russian forces currently defending in western Zaporizhia Oblast have been unable to prevent Ukrainian forces from making gradual but steady advances since mid-August. ISW has consistently observed Ukrainian forces making slow but regular advances in western Zaporizhia Oblast despite the Russian military’s lateral redeployment of elements of relatively elite units to reinforce Russian defensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast.[8] The Russian military laterally redeployed elements of the 7th Guards Mountain Airborne (VDV) Division and the 76th Guards VDV Division to the Robotyne area in mid-August to repel Ukrainian attacks and possibly to relieve elements of the 22nd and 45th Separate Spetsnaz Brigades that had been counterattacking against Ukrainian advances during the earlier phases of Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.[9] Geolocated footage published on September 20 and 21 shows elements of the 22nd Guards Spetsnaz Brigade operating west of Verbove (18km southeast of Orikhiv), suggesting that the Russian command has tactically transferred elements of the 22nd Guards Spetsnaz Brigade to support VDV elements already observed defending in the area.[10] A Ukrainian soldier defending in southern Ukraine told the WSJ in an article published on September 21 that Russian troops defending front-line trenches are “poor-quality,” but that counterattacking assault troops are “stronger.”[11] The Ukrainian soldier’s statements are consistent with ISW’s observations that relatively elite Russian Spetsnaz and VDV elements appear to be the primary counterattack elements in western Zaporizhia Oblast.

Ukraine has claimed responsibility for today's missile attack on the Russian Black Sea fleet headquarters in Crimea.

The Ukrainian military says it "successfully" hit the naval base in Sevastopol, but gave no further details of the attack.

Some footage here: https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world...0d81183fc96e28602bdbc8&pinned_post_type=share

Ukraine used western supplied missiles in its strike on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Naval fleet in occupied Crimea.

A source at the Ukrainian Air Force told the BBC that Storm Shadow – also known as Scalp – cruise missiles were launched.

Last week, they used the same models in an attack on a military base in Crimea which damaged a Russian submarine and landing ship.

Russia plans a massive increase in defense spending next year as President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine continues to remake its economy and alter funding priorities.
Defense spending will comprise 6% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2024, up from 3.9% in 2023 and 2.7% in 2021, according to draft budget plans seen by Bloomberg News. Secret expenditure on classified or unspecified items is forecast to nearly double as the Kremlin continues to try to avoid scrutiny of the war’s impact.
The evolution of Russia’s wartime budget shows the government’s shifting priorities amid the fighting that’s exacting a heavy financial toll with no end in sight. Defense outlays are planned to overtake social spending next year even as the Kremlin is gearing up for presidential elections in March, and at a time when the economy is under pressure from unprecedented international sanctions.

Under the draft proposals that the government will discuss Friday, defense spending would rise to 10.8 trillion rubles ($112 billion) in 2024 from 6.4 trillion rubles this year. The forecast defense budget would be triple the 3.6 trillion rubles allocated in 2021, the last year before Putin began the February 2022 invasion.
Classified expenditures will rise to 11.1 trillion rubles from 6.5 trillion for 2023. That would represent 30% of total budget spending, doubling the secret share since the all-time low of 14.9% in 2021.

Thread on Russia's budget: https://twitter.com/amenka/status/1705211820678492653

Russian telegram sources are claiming that there were 7 Storm Shadows launched at Crimea, along with one land-attack Neptune and several drones
Some Storm Shadows are claimed to have been shot down but at least one got through and hit Black Sea Fleet HQ

“This is a serious blow and serious damage to our fleet,"

Russian propagandist Sergey Karnaukhov is visibly shocked after the attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters.

But among them, the most intriguing thinking is coming from soldiers on Ukraine’s front lines, or those who have newly returned, and they fault NATO for preparing them for a different fight.

Of course, Ukraine has been encountering criticism of its own in recent weeks, with Western military officials faulting forces for failing to observe the combined warfare tactics taught by NATO instructors earlier this year. The most notable reprimand was contained in July’s leaked battlefield assessment by Germany’s Bundeswehr, which complained the Ukrainian military was failing to implement NATO training, and criticized commanders for splitting their Western-trained brigades into small units of just 10 to 30 soldiers to attack enemy positions.

But some front-line veterans are now turning this criticism on its head, saying NATO prepared them for the wrong kind of war, and that the training they received was a mixed bag, and taken from manuals that weren’t adjusted for the realities on the ground in Ukraine. According to them, there was a clear schism between theory and practice, a disconnect that has cost lives.

Among the critics of NATO’s training is 10-year U.S. army national guard veteran Ryan O’Leary, who was on tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and joined Ukraine’s foreign legion within days of Russia’s invasion. On arrival, he was almost immediately dispatched with other American and British volunteers to block Russian units from entering Ukraine’s capital from the north.

O’Leary argues the training for new brigades would have been better if “taught by Ukrainians who have experienced combat here and can bring with them the hard lessons they learned, so others don’t repeat them.”

It seems the training Ukrainian soldiers received was based more on what NATO forces have been most used to in recent years — counterinsurgency warfare, with some American-style “show-and-awe” thrown in. And while Ukrainians praise the drills on basic infantry tactics, reconnaissance and how to get close to the enemy unseen, as well as methods taught for storming trenches and buildings, they cite a lack of training on drone and mine awareness, explosive ordnance disposal and defensive combat.

When it comes to integrating drone warfare and how to overcome enemy drones, they received scant counsel — most likely because NATO forces have not yet caught up and adapted their own infantry training to the technology.

O’Leary is now a company commander in Ukraine’s 59th Motorized Brigade, which has been tasked with reconnaissance and trench clearing in the counteroffensive in the southeast. “NATO should focus on basic soldiering — weapon drills, movements, building LP/Ops [Listening Post/Observation Post], camo, small unit tactics & cohesion drills as an example,” he posted on social media.

And further north, on the front lines in Kharkiv, this criticism is echoed by soldiers with the 32nd Separate Mechanized Brigade, who spoke with the Kyiv Independent. The brigade received only three weeks of NATO training in Germany, and while grateful for some of the Western drilling and kit, they complained that NATO officers didn’t understand the hard reality of warfare in Ukraine.

“A NATO infantryman knows he’s supported and can advance with the confidence that there’s a high likelihood that he won’t be killed or maimed,” a soldier named Ihor said. NATO’s way of war calls for massive preparatory airstrikes, artillery barrages and demining before the infantry advances, and, of course, Ukraine’s military — without the modern warplanes, long-range missiles and demining equipment they requested — has had to fight in a very different way than what standard NATO doctrine dictates.

That is why, during the first phase of the counteroffensive, Ukraine suffered substantial losses of soldiers and Western-supplied armor, as they got bogged down in some of the thickest minefields ever seen and had to switch tactics to this attritional second phase, using small infantry units to try and find ways through.

Some Ukrainian combatants say the training would have gone off better if battle-experienced Ukrainian officers and non-commissioned officers with knowledge of the local geography and landscape had been integrated into the NATO training — or if there had been an added component of intense instruction in Ukraine before draftees were deployed.

As a result of their lack of knowledge of the landscape, NATO trainers did not consider how much of the fighting would involve small units having to battle through thick tree lines — much like the Allied forces failed to account for northwestern France’s hedgerows after the 1944 Normandy landings. Similarly, on the Zaporizhzhia front — as well as in much of southern Ukraine — Soviet agronomists had divided the land into vast fields with oak, holly and poplar trees planted between them as windbreaks.

Ukraine has claimed responsibility for today's missile attack on the Russian Black Sea fleet headquarters in Crimea.

The Ukrainian military says it "successfully" hit the naval base in Sevastopol, but gave no further details of the attack.

Some footage here: https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-66888101?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter&ns_campaign=bbc_live&ns_linkname=650d81183fc96e28602bdbc8&Watch: Verified footage of Sevastopol strike&2023-09-22T12:00:19.371Z&ns_fee=0&pinned_post_locator=urn:asset:881492d3-25a1-43b2-bc69-7d8f4f608815&pinned_post_asset_id=650d81183fc96e28602bdbc8&pinned_post_type=share

Ukraine used western supplied missiles in its strike on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Naval fleet in occupied Crimea.

A source at the Ukrainian Air Force told the BBC that Storm Shadow – also known as Scalp – cruise missiles were launched.

Last week, they used the same models in an attack on a military base in Crimea which damaged a Russian submarine and landing ship.
If they can successfully hit a naval base HQ that far away... Those cruise missiles must be pretty bad ***, or the Russians don't have nearly the anti-air / anti-missile technology that the west has. What's the range for Storm Shadow and will Britain allow them to hit targets inside Russia?
will Britain allow them to hit targets inside Russia?
I believe all countries supplying Ukraine with weapons have told Ukraine to not use them on Russian soil. The drones that have been hitting Moscow and other targets in Russia are Ukrainian made.

Edit- between 250-400 km.13
SCALP EG/ Storm Shadow Specifications
The missiles are 5.1 m in length, have a 630 mm body diameter, weigh 1,300 kg, and have a range between 250-400 km.13. The SCALP EG/Storm Shadow is equipped with a Microturbo TRI-60-30 engine and a 400 kg payload.Jul 17, 2023
https://missilethreat.csis.org › missile
SCALP EG/ Storm Shadow/ SCALP Naval/ Black Shaheen - Missile Threat

The Storm Shadows are launched from air.

Intelligence analysts may look at the map of Southern Ukraine and see distances; military planners will apply the military math and see something very different. They know that to crush the Russian army and strangle the troops in frontline fortifications, they don’t need to advance 50 miles. 10 miles will do it.

Why? Because although it would be great if Ukrainian troops broke through to the shores of the Sea of Azov, they do not have to. Instead, they can achieve a significant operational outcome by bringing Russia’s ground line of communication (GLOC) under their guns.

On or around August 22, Ukraine’s troops liberated the village of Robotyne, some 90km (around 55 miles) from the Sea of Azov, a major accomplishment given the enormous efforts of the Russian invaders to fortify and hold it.

From here, the Ukrainians need to advance by a further 10–15 km (7–10 miles), in order to range their guns on Russia’s east-west transport routes that are critical to the ability of its army and armed forces to fight. If Ukraine can interdict these road and rail links, it’s very hard to see how the Russian army can continue to fight.

Ukraine has claimed responsibility for today's missile attack on the Russian Black Sea fleet headquarters in Crimea.

The Ukrainian military says it "successfully" hit the naval base in Sevastopol, but gave no further details of the attack.

Some footage here: https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-66888101?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter&ns_campaign=bbc_live&ns_linkname=650d81183fc96e28602bdbc8&Watch: Verified footage of Sevastopol strike&2023-09-22T12:00:19.371Z&ns_fee=0&pinned_post_locator=urn:asset:881492d3-25a1-43b2-bc69-7d8f4f608815&pinned_post_asset_id=650d81183fc96e28602bdbc8&pinned_post_type=share

Ukraine used western supplied missiles in its strike on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Naval fleet in occupied Crimea.

A source at the Ukrainian Air Force told the BBC that Storm Shadow – also known as Scalp – cruise missiles were launched.

Last week, they used the same models in an attack on a military base in Crimea which damaged a Russian submarine and landing ship.
If they can successfully hit a naval base HQ that far away... Those cruise missiles must be pretty bad ***, or the Russians don't have nearly the anti-air / anti-missile technology that the west has. What's the range for Storm Shadow and will Britain allow them to hit targets inside Russia?
The missiles hit at Noon local time - broad daylight.

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