Fighting continues on the outskirts of Kiev, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy, and other important conflict zones.
As the Russians occupy more telecoms and power infrastructure, and cyberattacks continue against Ukrainian mobile network providers, the prevalence and reliability of smartphone footage may diminish in the east of the country. A major cyberattack took out the network provider Triolan on day fifteen.
In addition, A recent directive from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence implored Ukrainians not to image shipments of NATO-supplied weaponry. Presumably this is for operational security reasons: a shipment of NLAWs will be rather less effective if the enemy has seen you post photos of the arsenal on Twitter.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Ukrainians may be suffering from smartphone-related opsec problems as much as the Russians. Earlier in the conflict a groupd of Ukrainian soldiers allegedly posted photos of themselves posing on Reddit, only for Russian military intelligence to identify that they were standing inside a school, and then shell all of the school buildings in the vicinity — resulting in the soldiers’ demise. This story remains unconfirmed, but stands to illustrate the dangers of profligate use of social media in a warzone.
According to the US satellite company Maxar, the long convoy stalled outside Kiev for several days has now ‘dispersed’. This may indicate that the Russians have been able to supply the vehicles, advance, and broaden their attack front. Supporting this conjecture is the recent drive to cut off the Kiev-Zhytomyr highway in a wide encircling move to the west over the past day or so, an advance which appears to have reached the Kiev-Byshev airfield. If that information is correct, the Russians are 15km north of interdicting the main railway between Poland and Kiev near the town of Fastiv. This would leave the north-south highway from Kiev to Odessa as the last major roadway connecting the Ukrainian capital. Note that it is possible that these vital pieces of infrastructure may have been damaged by shelling or airstrikes already.
A Russian Buk anti-aircraft system was recently taken out at night by a Ukrainian drone on the Kiev-Zhytomyr highway.
Recent footage from a counterattack near Kiev shows almost every Ukrainian infantry soldier carrying an advanced anti-vehicle weapon, ranging from Panzerfaust-3 and NLAW ATGMs, to MANPADs, RPG-7s and RPV-16 thermobaric launchers.
These weapons are a threat to the most modern vehicles in Russia’s arsenal. WHile footage of the most modern T-90 appears yet to surface, a knocked out T-80 variant from 2018 was recorded here.
An armoured recovery vehicle was damaged and captured during a counterattack near Sumy.
It is worth observing that the more pessimistic estimates of Russia’s logistics system appear not to have transpired. With some projections asserting that the Russians would run out of supplies and ideas after 10 days or even 3 days, they appear to be conducting an aggressive campaign well into day 15.
While large quantities of knocked-out or captured vehicles continue to appear in footage, it is hard to judge the prominence of these Ukrainian successes in relation to the enormous size of the Russian army deployed along a 280-mile war front. Nevertheless, with the toll approaching 1,000 confirmed vehicle losses for Russia, this war is likely to place a dent in Russia’s military reputation.
The recent haul of captured vehicles included 7 abandoned T-72 tanks near Chernihiv.
A Russian Eleron-3 recon drone was also captured, location unknown. The drone is small, foldable, and extremely portable.
High-level talks were held between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey today, with no progress being made between the two sides.
The US Senate has just approved a $1.5 trillion spending bill, showing that the money printing will continue until either morale improves or the dollar disappears into hyperinflation. This bill includes $14 billion in aid for Ukraine.
Meta, the company owning Facebook and Instagram, will make another change to its hate speech policy in order to support Ukraine in the conflict. Having previously suspended the part of its hate speech policy which prevented praising of neo-Nazi groups, specifically to allow people to praise the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, they will now permit calls for violence against Russia and Russian people in some countries, according to emails seen by Reuters. Critics of Meta’s hate speech policies have long claimed that they are arbitrary, politically biased, selectively enforced, and oppressive to free and open discourse.
Russia has allegedly legalised intellectual property (IP) piracy against ‘unfriendly nations’, principally the US, Europe, and Japan. Royalties will no longer be paid to patent holders from these countries. International agreements surrounding IP have often been viewed as an unfair system for entrenching the technological advantage of the US and Europe, leading to states such as China allegedly turning a blind eye to widespread IP theft and patent violations by domestic companies.
The Russian State Duma is also considering seizing the assets of US and other foreign companies from ‘unfriendly nations’ that have closed their operations in Russia as a result of the Ukraine conflict and US sanctions. The US State Department has warned against this move, threatening ‘even stronger retaliation’.
Having already passed a law permitting the seizure of Russian Federation-owned assets in Ukraine, the Ukrainian parliament is apparently been debating a law that would permit the seizure of assets owned by Russian citizens or Ukrainian ‘collaborators’ in Ukraine. While wartime calls for drastic measures, in a country with the history of corruption, criminality, and oligarchy of Ukraine, this could lead to widespread abuse.
The US claims to have seized large amounts of Russian-held cryptocurrency, in order to prevent Russia from circumventing sanctions, as reported in the Washington Examiner:
“It will be extremely challenging to evade our sanctions without detection,” an unnamed official told NBC News. “Treasury has been significantly increasing its ability to track virtual currency transactions via partnerships across the [federal government] and with the private sector.”
Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, announced Monday it blocked 25,000 accounts linked to Russian people and entities that the company believed to be “engaging in illicit activity.”
President Biden recently issued an executive order to create action plans to ‘mitigate the illegal use of digital currency’ and accelerate research and development towards a ‘central bank digital currency’ (CBDC). CBDCs cause great alarm in libertarian circles, and are associated with long-term efforts to abolish cash and assume complete state control over citizens’ ability to use money.
According to the Lithuanian President, Gitanas Nauseda, the EU last night approved the integration of Ukraine into the EU. This process usually takes several years and is contingent upon major economic reforms in the assimilated country; as to whether these processes will be fast-tracked to incorporate Ukraine before the end of the conflict, or whether this ‘eurointegration’ decision is an empty PR exercise, only time will tell.