The likely course of cyber-escalation.
Today status report of the British Ministry of Defense (UK) assesses the current state of the Russian reduction of Sieverodonetsk. “All major bridges over the Silverskyy Donets River, which connect the disputed city of Sieverodonetsk and Ukrainian-controlled territory, have now most likely been destroyed. Ukraine has probably managed to withdraw a large part of its combat troops, who originally held The situation continues to be extremely difficult for Ukrainian forces and civilians remaining east of the river.With the bridges most likely destroyed, Russia will likely have to either make a contested crossing of the river, or advance on its currently blocked flanks to turn.As claimed by the Ukrainian authorities, some Russian Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) – usually consisting of around 600-800 men – have been able to muster as few as 30 troops. fighting in contested cities, front-line combat is likely to increasingly devolve to small groups of troops operating on a large scale. erally on foot. Some of Russia’s forces, as I her advantage in tank numbers, becomes less relevant in this environment. That probably contributes to his slow and steady rate of progression.”
The troop shortage has prompted Russia to step up recruitment efforts, reports The Washington Post. An alternative to more vigorous and successful recruitment, full mobilization with more extensive conscription, is problematic for Moscow, because adopting this policy would belie the narrative of restraint and success that the Kremlin has pushed domestically. In the short term at least, writes the Telegraph, some of the labor shortages are being made up for by conscripts from nominally sympathetic Russian-speaking enclaves in the Donbass. Soldiers acquired this way cannot receive any effective training.
Pravda reports a major explosion and fire at Gazprom’s Urengoyskoye field in Russia. It may have been an accident, and Pravda reports the incident neutrally, but there is speculation on social media that the damage could be the result of a Ukrainian special operation.
Belarus continues to maintain its forces on the high alert state they were recently placed on. President Lukashenka, according to the Atlantic Council, explained the alert as a response to the threat that Belarus would be “cut off”, i.e. isolated, by NATO. But the Atlantic Council sees this increased preparation as a response to pressure from Moscow to show that Belarus strongly supports the Russian cause. Opposition leaders say Mr Lukashenka’s regime has grown increasingly unpopular and native guerrilla actions have sought to disrupt Minsk’s support for Moscow’s war. The Belarusian mobilization functions, in fact, as a Russian force-saving measure, since Ukraine must, out of prudence, consider the possibility of an invasion from the northwest, and deploy its forces accordingly.
The leaders of France, Germany, Romania and Italy have just traveled to Ukraine, for talks with President Zelenskyy, expressions of support and visits to Russian atrocity sites. MM. Scholz, Macron, Iohannis and Draghi all condemned Russian “brutality”. They also pledged, the AP reports, to deliver arms to Ukrainian forces and to work to ease Ukraine’s path to European Union membership.
The United States has pledged to deliver an additional $1 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine. Defense News reports that “U.S. assistance will include two Harpoon launch vehicles and an unspecified number of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, or GMLRS, for the previously committed M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, the report said. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Brussels Also included are 18 M777 howitzers, 36,000 155mm rounds and thousands of secure radios.” Canada sends replacement barrels for 155 M777 howitzers to Ukraine mm.
Thoughts on the first large-scale Hybrid War.
The Atlantic Council has an essay from Yurii Shchyhol, head of Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection. Mr. Shchyhol describes Russia’s war against Ukraine as the first cyber war, that is, the first major war in which cyber operations were fully integrated into planning and operations. One of his conclusions is that the war has made evident what keen observers of cybergangs have long known: the place that the Russian underworld occupies in Moscow’s order of battle. “The current war has confirmed that while Russian hackers often exist outside of official state structures, they are highly integrated into the country’s security apparatus and their work is closely coordinated with other military operations. as mercenary military forces such as the Wagner Group are used by the Kremlin to blur the lines between state and non-state actors, hackers are an unofficial but important branch of modern Russia’s offensive capabilities.” Shchyhol also notes that the war has revealed Russian limitations as well as Russian capabilities Ukraine’s infrastructure has shown great resilience in the face of Russian cyberattacks.
IT has an essay claiming that in times of war, nations now have as much to fear from cyberattacks as from kinetic attacks. At first glance, this seems like a stretch – after all, cyberattacks only become lethal when they have kinetic effects. A ransomware attack, for example, as such is very far from an artillery barrage, and a corrupted database is not the same, IRL, as an artillery preparation. Unless we have become gnostics who believe that the physical world is less real than information space, few would go that far. But reading beyond the title, that’s not the point of the essay. His argument, rather, is that modern infrastructure is now so inextricably linked and dependent on information technology that cyberattack can and does have physical and kinetic effects. Computing quotes Ian Hill, director of cybersecurity at BGL Insurance, who said at the magazine’s conference last week: “The real world and the virtual world have become so interdependent. Our physical world, certainly in the context of Western society, has pretty much reached the point of no return, where our dependence on technology – and technology’s dependence on the Internet – fact that the economy cannot exist without them. If something happens to the Internet or connected technology, we have a real problem. ”
The possibility of cyber-escalation.
The Cyber Peace Institute has published a useful overview of operations in the fifth domain during Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Observers continue to debate why Russian cyberattacks have not been more widespread and more destructive than they have been so far. If Shchyhol is right, as he appears to be, that Russian cyber operators are about as concerned about meeting the standards of proportionality and discrimination enshrined in the international law of armed conflict as Russian infantry and artillery have been, so the apparent restraint Moscow has exhibited seems to demand explanation. An essay published in Cyber Security Hub concludes that a partial explanation can be found in deterrence. President Putin does not want an all-out war with NATO and has been concerned to avoid attacks on critical infrastructure that would provoke a kinetic response from the Atlantic Alliance.
If Russia has maintained the complete conquest of Ukraine as its goal, as many observers believe, can deterrence be expected to hold in cyberspace as war inevitably escalates on the ground? An assessment in the GIS concludes that this may not be the case. “Russia’s red lines and escalation strategy may still change in the coming weeks and months. Changing military, political and economic aspects and changing war aims will influence how the Kremlin decides to ‘using its cyber abilities in the conflict.’ Defense One reports that some US officials agree. They see the indiscriminate effects of NotPetya as foreshadowing the likely course of Russian escalation. “I think there’s a risk that the deeper you get into this conflict, the more pressure the Russians will have to resort to more aggressive operations,” Neal Higgins, deputy national cybersecurity director for National Cybersecurity in the office of the White House. National Cyber Director, said this week at Defense One’s Tech Summit. “If you act quickly and want a big impact, there’s a risk you could lose control and that could happen. It’s certainly a risk we continue to monitor across government.”