Russo Ukrainian War. Day 218: Ukraine to get 18 HIMARS systems as part of new US aid package

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

War to end only after all of Ukraine is liberated, says Zelenskyy. Russia redeployed troops in Crimea after a series of explosions. Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighboring countries, and many more have been forced to move inside the country. EU vows to protect energy network after ‘sabotage’ of Russian gas pipeline. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine. Damage caused by war already exceeds Ukraine’s GDP by 1.6 times. EBRD downgrades forecast of Ukraine’s economy for 2023. Russians have issued at least 1,500 draft notices to Crimean Tatars. EU denounces Russia’s illegal ‘referenda’ in Ukrain, says Borrell. Ukraine to get 18 HIMARS systems and 150 Humvees as part of new US security aid package. EU disburses EUR 500M of budget support to Ukraine.

Daily overview — Summary report, September 29

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, September 29, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below.

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“Russian forces continue to focus their efforts on attempts to fully occupy the Donetsk oblast and hold the captured territories, as well as disrupt the active actions of the Defense Forces in certain directions. Russian forces are shelling the positions of our troops along the contact line, conducting aerial reconnaissance. Strikes civilian infrastructure and peaceful residential areas, violating international humanitarian law, laws and customs of war. There remains the threat of air and missile strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1575097912664752128

Over the past day, Russian forces launched 3 missile strikes, 8 airstrikes and carried out more than 82 MLRS attacks on military and civilian objects on the territory of Ukraine.

More than 28 settlements were affected by enemy strikes. In particular, Siversk, Bilohorivka, Yuryivka, Maryinka, Kryvyi Rih, Vyshchetarasivka, Mykolayiv and Ternovi Pody.

The situation in the Volyn and Polissya directions has not changed significantly.

In other directions, Russian forces fired from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS:

  • in the Siverskyi direction – in the areas of Senkivka and Bleshnya settlements of Chernihiv oblast, as well as Seredyna Buda, Havrylova Sloboda, Khliborob, Myropilske and Ryasne of Sumy oblast;
  • in the Slobozhanskyi direction – in the areas of the settlements of Strilecha, Sosnivka, Krasne, Hrushivka, Senkove, Dvorichna and Kolodyazne;
  • in the Kramatorsk direction – in the areas of Novoselivka, Stariy Karavan, Shchurove, Zakitne, Dibrova, Ozerne and Verkhnyokamianske settlements;
  • in the Bakhmut direction – Soledar, Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Odradivka, Zaitseve, Vesela Dolyna, Toretsk, Opytne, Ivanovske, Yakovlivka, Bilohorivka and Vesele;
  • in the Avdiyivka direction – Avdiyivka, Berdychiv, Pisky, Pervomaiske and Maryinka.
  • in the Novopavlivsk and Zaporizhzhia directions – Russian forces did not conduct active operations. At the same time, it carried out artillery shelling near Novoukrainka, Neskuchne, Vremivka, Zaliznychne, Hulyaipole, Charivne, Chervone, Novopole and Uspenivka.
  • in the Pivdenny Buh direction – about 25 settlements along the contact line were shelled. In order to conduct reconnaissance, adjust fire and strike at civilian infrastructure objects, Russian forces made more than 45 sorties of UAVs in this direction.

Russian military leadership continues to take measures to replenish manpower losses, in particular, to equip its units at the expense of prisoners. According to available information, about 400 people of the specified category arrived at the educational centre in the territory of the Rostov region. Their preparation will last until September 30 this year.

Also, Russian forces continue to send newly demobilized, low-skilled personnel to the areas of hostilities. So, on September 26, 7 units of tanks went to Lyman in the Donetsk oblast, 2 of which were involved in a road accident during the pursuit. In addition, the formed crews also did not undergo proper fire training using standard tank weapons.

It is known that two thousand people mobilized from Crimea were sent from Sevastopol to the Kherson oblast on September 27. In addition, the military commissars in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea received an order regarding the priority of conscription of Crimean Tatars into the ranks of the Russian occupying forces, with their assignment to combat units performing tasks in the areas of the most intense hostilities. On September 26 of this year, 21 persons of the specified nationality were mobilized only in Saky district.

[The so-called “partial” mobilization measures are ongoing in the Russian Federation and parts of the regions of Ukraine temporarily occupied by Russia. In remote settlements of the Russian Federation, the entire male population of a certain age category is subject to mobilization, despite the lack of experience of military service in the past and combat experience. There are rare cases of mobilization of persons with disabilities, cancer patients, parents with many children, and persons over sixty years of age. In some regions, the population is trying to resist such forced mobilization.]

[The lack of readiness to implement mobilization measures was noted at assembly points in the Belgorod and Rostov regions. Thus, newly arrived personnel must purchase winter uniforms and protective equipment at their own expense.]

[The tendency of persons of conscription age to find ways to evade mobilization continues. Thus, in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, men, in order to avoid mobilization, try to pay off with a bribe, go abroad to the Russian Federation, get a job at a critical infrastructure enterprise, or commit a petty crime.]

Russian forces continue to suffer losses. On September 27 of this year, in the Zaporizhzhia oblast, in the Tokmak settlement area, the Defense Forces destroyed three S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems. The sanitary and irreversible losses of Russian personnel are specified.

Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces repelled enemy attacks in the areas of Zayitseve, Mayorsk, Zalizne, Bakhmutske, Odradivka, Mykolaivka Druha, Ozeryanivka, Pervomaiske, Pobyeda, Novomykhailivka, Pavlivka, and Bezimenne.

To support the actions of the land groups, the Air Force of the Defense Forces carried out 16 strikes during the day. The defeat of three strongholds, ten places of accumulation of weapons and military equipment, as well as three anti-aircraft missile systems of Russian forces was confirmed. In addition, our air defence units, in different directions, shot down 4 UAVs and 4 X-59 guided air missiles.

Missile troops and artillery continue to inflict fire damage on enemy facilities. In particular, during the day, two command posts, seven areas of concentration of manpower, weapons and military equipment of Russian forces, one repeater station, three electronic warfare stations, two warehouses with ammunition and one with fuel and oil were affected.”

Military Updates

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1575220730505138177

Russia redeployed troops in Crimea after a series of explosions, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Vadym Skibitskyi, the Representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU), for Krym.Realii . “After a number of explosions in Crimea in August, Russian military command redeployed part of the Black Sea Fleet staff to Novorossiysk and distributed aircraft from Crimea to airbases located on the territory of Russia. Measures were carried out in the Black Sea Fleet; the personnel who are not directly involved and have auxiliary functions were redeployed from the HQ of the Black Sea Fleet to Novorossiysk. We do not rule out that some warships and supply vessels will be transferred from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk as well, to avoid strikes.

As for the movements, the [line-up of] groupings in Crimea has not changed, except for the redeployment of aircraft to concentrate them on airbases of the Russian Federation; air defence has been strengthened with the transfer of additional military forces and anti-aircraft defence systems”.

Russian troops continue to move military equipment, ammunition and personnel through Crimea, in particular over the Crimean Bridge. Skibitskyi added that the protection of the bridge has been strengthened since the beginning of the war.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1575097912664752128

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 218: Ukraine to get 18 HIMARS systems as part of new US aid package ~~

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

  • In the seven days since President Putin announced the ‘partial mobilisation’ there has been a considerable exodus of Russians seeking to evade call-up. Whilst exact numbers are unclear, it likely exceeds the size of the total invasion force Russia fielded in February 2022.
  • The better off and well educated are over-represented amongst those attempting to leave Russia. When combined with those reservists who are being mobilised, the domestic economic impact of reduced availability of labour and the acceleration of ‘brain drain’ is likely to become increasingly significant.
  • Ukraine has pressed its offensive operations in the north-east of the country over the last few days. Units are making slow advances on at least two axes east from the line of the Oskil and Siverskyy Donets rivers, where forces had consolidated following their previous advance earlier in the month.
  • Russia is mounting a more substantive defence than previously, likely because the Ukrainian advance now threatens parts of Luhansk Oblast as voting in the referendum on accession to the Russian Federation closes.
  • Heavy fighting also continues in the Kherson region where the Russian force on the right bank of the Dnipro remains vulnerable. Russia continues its grinding attempts to advance near Bakhmut in the Donbas even while it faces severe pressure on its northern and southern flanks. This is likely due to political pressure as Russia is using forces that could otherwise reinforce the other flanks.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Thursday 29 September, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

  • Personnel – more than 58580 (+430),
  • Tanks – 2325 (+13),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 4909(+20),
  • Artillery systems – 1385 (+4),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 331 (+0),
  • Air defence means – 175 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 262 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 224 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 3751 (+9),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 995 (+6),
  • Special equipment – 131 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 246 (+4)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Kramatorsk and Donetsk directions.

Russia’s professional soldiers about those mobilized in Ukraine: “To be honest, they will all die there”, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Meduza. “Russian professional soldiers and mercenaries who have fought at the front [in Ukraine] told the media that nothing good awaits the mobilised in Ukraine; most of them will die. The full names of the soldiers and mercenaries are not disclosed for obvious reasons.

Humanitarian 

Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighboring countries, and many more have been forced to move inside the country. The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance the UNHCR reports. As of 27 September:

Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe: 7,535,874
Hungary, Republic  of Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,707,455
Russian Federation, Belarus 2,786,229
Other European countries 3,042,190
Refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe: 4,178,551
Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,601,382
Other European countries 2,577,169
Border crossings from Ukraine (since 24 February 2022): 13,379,780
Border crossings to Ukraine (since 28 February 2022): 6,256,558

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1575249547139420165

Environmental 

EU vows to protect energy network after ‘sabotage’ of Russian gas pipeline Reuters reports. “The European Union on Wednesday promised a “robust” response to any intentional disruption of its energy infrastructure after saying it suspected sabotage was behind gas leaks discovered this week on subsea Russian pipelines to Europe.

As gas spewed out under the Baltic Sea for a third day after first being detected, it remained far from clear who might be responsible for any sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines that Russia and European partners spent billions of dollars building.

Russia, which slashed gas deliveries to Europe after the West imposed sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, has also said sabotage was a possibility.”

Damage caused by war already exceeds Ukraine’s GDP by 1.6 times – PM Shmyhal, Ukrinform reports. “Damage caused to Ukraine by Russia’s invasion already exceeds the country’s GDP by 1.6 times. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said this at a conference call with regional governors on September 28.

The situation with damage was recorded as of June. The need for funds, according to this report, totals USD 349 billion, almost 350 billion. Of course, this amount is higher than the GDP of our state for the past year. The amount is 1.6 times higher than GDP. Of course, we understand that financial resources are primarily needed for rapid reconstruction, quick recovery, social infrastructure, critical infrastructure, and preparations for winter, Shmyhal said. In addition, those present at the meeting paid attention to the restoration of important infrastructure and preparations for the upcoming heating season.”

EBRD downgrades forecast of Ukraine’s economy for 2023, Ukrinform reports. “The relevant statement was made on the website of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). “In particular, the EBRD’s forecast that Ukraine’s gross domestic product (GDP) will contract by 30% this year has not changed. Meanwhile, for 2023, the EBRD lowered its forecast of an economic rebound to 8% from 25% foreseen in May. According to the EBRD, the reduced forecast is a sign of how heavily uncertainty over the shape of the future is weighing on Ukraine’s economic prospects.

Although combat operations in more recent months have become more concentrated, covering territory that generates only around 20% of GDP, the devastation of human capital, infrastructure and production capacity has been enormous. About 15% of the pre-war population had left the country as of mid-August 2022, while a further 15% had been displaced internally.

Economic activity has been severely disrupted, even in regions without combat activity, due to supply bottlenecks, logistical challenges, financial difficulties and a lack of adequate labour. In addition, Russia’s blockade of ports, hampering agricultural exports, and the devastation of many steel-producing facilities in eastern Ukraine have decimated the country’s two main exports, which generated almost half of all pre-war export revenues.

Inflation picked up to 23.8% in August 2022 due to supply disruptions and a soaring fiscal deficit, the EBRD noted.”

Legal 

Russians have issued at least 1,500 draft notices to Crimean Tatars, Ukrinform reports. “We know that at least 1,500 draft notices have been issued to Crimean Tatars. It was a mass issuance of draft notices in places where Crimean Tatars live compactly, such as the sixth and seventh districts of Bakhchisaray, Strohanivka village, Zuya village, Saky town, Azovske village, Mayske village, Dobrivska valley, Tamila Tasheva, Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, said.

According to her, the issuance of draft notices covered a significant number of Crimean Tatars disproportionate to their total number on the peninsula. Thus, according to the last census, 250,000 representatives of the Crimean Tatar people lived in Crimea. Tasheva emphasized that it was not known how many people were currently mobilized in Crimea.

As reported, Ukraine initiated criminal proceedings over violation of laws and customs of war in connection with the criminal mobilization rolled out by the occupying power in Crimea.”

396 children were killed, 779 children injured, 7,890 deported by foe forces, and 242 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of September 29. 2,500 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 289 of them are destroyed fully. 36,161 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 16,288 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

Ukraine to get 18 HIMARS systems and 150 Humvees as part of new US security aid package, Ukrinform reports, citing a press release from the US Department of Defense. “The new package of US security assistance for Ukraine for more than $1 billion, announced on Wednesday, includes about 500 units of modern models of combat and special equipment. This USAI [Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative] package underscores the US commitment to continuing to support Ukraine over the long term, the report said.

Unlike Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which DoD has continued to leverage to deliver equipment to Ukraine from DoD stocks at a historic pace, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry. This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid- and long-term, the Defense Department said.

The Pentagon also added that the new package includes 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and associated ammunition, 150 Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), 150 tactical vehicles to tow weapons, 40 trucks and 80 trailers to transport heavy equipment, two radars for unmanned aerial systems, 20 multi-mission radars, counter-unmanned aerial systems, tactical secure communications systems, surveillance systems, and optics, explosive ordnance disposal equipment, body armour and other field equipment, as well as funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.”

EU disburses EUR 500M of budget support to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Olivér Várhelyi has announced the disbursement of EUR 500 million in EU budget support to Ukraine. He stated this at a joint briefing with Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna in Kyiv, an Ukrinform correspondent reported.

According to Várhelyi, he discussed with Ukrainian officials the EU support for the country, in particular, military and financial aid. We support the reforms financially, as well as the survival of Ukraine in this war, he said. The officials also discussed the provision of EUR 100 million for the reconstruction of schools in Ukraine.”

New Developments 

  1. Kremlin names minimum task of the war in Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. “Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian President, has stated that Russia will continue the war even after sham referendums are conducted, and it will aim to occupy the entire territory of Donetsk Oblast.”
  2. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine, euobserverRussia could interrupt its remaining gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine, Russian-controlled energy giant Gazprom announced on Wednesday. Gazprom warned earlier this week that gas supplies via Ukraine were at risk due to a legal dispute with Ukraine’s state-owned gas company Naftogaz over transit fees. After the alleged “sabotage” of the Nord Stream gas pipelines, Moscow is now threatening to impose sanctions on Naftogaz over the arbitration proceedings.[Naftogaz had initiated a new arbitration proceeding against Gazprom earlier this month, saying the Russian company did not pay for the rendered service of gas transportation through Ukraine] ”
  3. War to end only after all of Ukraine is liberated — Zelenskyy, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the President’s website. “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Ukraine must reclaim all of its occupied territories, and only then will it be possible to talk about the end of the war.”
  4. Russia set to annex Ukraine territory; West warns of new sanctions, ReutersRussia was poised to annex a swath of Ukraine within days, releasing what it called vote tallies showing overwhelming support in four provinces to join it, after what Ukraine and the West denounced as illegal sham referendums held at gunpoint. The head of the upper house of the Russian parliament said it could consider the incorporation of the four partially occupied regions on Oct. 4, three days before President Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday. The Russian-installed administrations of the four provinces have formally asked Putin to incorporate them into Russia, which Russian officials have suggested is a formality.”
  5. Kremlin decides not to rush annexation of occupied territories of Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Meduza. “Meduza’s sources said that the Kremlin has decided “not to rush things”, because the “accession” of Ukrainian territories to Russia [which Putin sees as a potential source of a boost in public support – ed.] “will have nearly negligible PR effect” against the backdrop of the [Russian citizens’ discontent with] mobilisation.”
  6. EU denounces Russia’s illegal ‘referenda’ in Ukraine – Borrell, Ukrinform reports, citing the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. “EU denounces holding of illegal “referenda” and their falsified outcome. This is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, amidst systematic abuses of human rights. We commend the courage of Ukrainians, who continue to oppose and resist Russian invasion, Borrell wrote.”
  7. European Commission proposes a new package of sanctions against Russia, Ukrinform reports, citing European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “The European Commission has proposed the eighth package of sanctions against the Russian Federation in response to the Kremlin’s actions aimed at escalating aggression against Ukraine.”
  8. Berlin will never recognize results of pseudo-referendums in Ukraine – Scholz, UkrinformThe sham referendums that Putin conducted in the illegally occupied areas of Ukraine are worthless. They are illegal under international law. Germany will never acknowledge the alleged results. Today, I assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of this in a telephone conversation, [German Chancellor Olaf Scholz] wrote.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

map source: https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-18

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 29 September, 2022:

Ukrainian Counteroffensives (Ukrainian efforts to liberate Russian-occupied territories)

Eastern Ukraine: (Vovchansk-Kupyansk-Izium-Lyman Line)

Russian milbloggers discussed Ukrainian gains around Lyman with increased concern on September 28, suggesting that Russian forces in this area may face imminent defeat. Several Russian milbloggers and prominent military correspondents claimed that Ukrainian troops advanced west, north, and northeast of Lyman and are working to complete the envelopment of Russian troops in Lyman and along the northern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River in this area. Russian mibloggers stated that Ukrainian troops are threatening Russian positions and lines of communication that support the Lyman grouping. The collapse of the Lyman pocket will likely be highly consequential to the Russian grouping in northern Donetsk and western Luhansk oblasts and may allow Ukrainian troops to threaten Russian positions along the western Luhansk Oblast border and in the Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk area.

Russian military leadership has failed to set information conditions for potentially imminent Russian defeat in Lyman.  The Russian Ministry of Defense has not addressed current Russian losses around Lyman or prepared for the collapse of this sector of the frontline, which will likely further reduce already-low Russian morale. Russian military authorities previously failed to set sufficient information conditions for Russian losses following the first stages of the Ukrainian counteroffensives in Kharkiv Oblast, devastating morale and leading to panic among Russian forces across the Eastern axis. The subsequent ire of the Russian nationalist information space likely played a role in driving the Kremlin to order partial mobilization in the days following Ukraine’s initial sweeping counteroffensive in a haphazard attempt to reinforce Russian lines. Future Ukrainian gains around critical areas in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast may drive additional wedges between Russian nationalists and military leadership, and between Russian forces and their superiors.

Southern Ukraine: (Kherson Oblast) 

Ukrainian military officials largely maintained operational silence regarding specific Ukrainian actions in Kherson Oblast on September 28 but stated that Ukrainian troops are continuing positional battles in unspecified locations to consolidate and improve their positions along the Southern Axis. Ukrainian military officials also reiterated that Ukrainian troops are continuing an interdiction campaign to target Russian logistics, military, and transportation assets, as well as concentration areas, in Kherson Oblast. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command stated that Russian forces are pulling reserves from the Crimean direction to reinforce the current southern frontline against Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.

Russian and Ukrainian sources reported that Ukrainian forces hit two main areas in Kherson Oblast as part of Ukraine’s continuing interdiction campaign on September 27 and 28: around Kherson City and near Beryslav, about 70km east of Kherson City. […]. Russian sources also posted imagery of the aftermath of a Ukrainian strike on Kherson Polytechnical College in Kherson City, where Russian troops reportedly were residing. Ukrainian sources also stated that Ukrainian forces hit Russian concentration areas near Beryslav.

Ukrainian sources reported that Ukrainian troops conducted limited ground maneuvers in western Kherson Oblast on September 27 and 28. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian attack on Bezimenne, 15km southwest of Davydiv Brid and near the Inhulets River that runs along the Kherson-Mykolaiv Oblast border. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command additionally noted that Russian troops attempted to attack Bezimenne from positions in Chkalove, 7km southeast of Bezimenne. […]

The Kremlin could temporarily postpone announcing the annexation of Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory to better prepare the Russian information space and administrative organization, although September 30 remains the most likely date for some kind of annexation announcement. ISW forecasted on September 27 that Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely announce the Russian annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory on September 30 in his planned address to both houses of the Russian parliament. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on September 28 that Russia will “fulfill the aspirations of the residents of the LNR, DNR, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts to be together with Russia” in the “near future.” However, Russian State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin announced on September 28 that the State Duma should hold its accession sessions to approve the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory on October 3 and 4. Latvian-based Russian-language opposition outlet Meduza quoted Kremlin sources on September 28 who claimed that the Kremlin decided ”not to rush things.” Those sources told Meduza that ”the PR effect from [annexation] will be almost zero” due to broad dissatisfaction with partial mobilization in Russia. Meduza reported that the Kremlin conducted a dissatisfactory closed public opinion poll that demonstrated broad Russian discontent and may be attempting to rectify public unhappiness with mobilization before announcing annexation. 

Russian-appointed occupation administration leaders of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk Oblasts each shared an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin by September 28, asking Putin to recognize their sham referenda and welcome them to Russia. The Russian occupation leaders of each oblast will likely meet with Putin in the coming days to present their requests. Putin could announce those performative accession negotiations, rather than final annexation, in his September 30 speech.

Russian authorities continue to send newly-mobilized and undertrained recruits to directly reinforce severely degraded remnants of various units, including units that were previously considered to be Russia’s premier conventional fighting forces. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that newly-mobilized Russian men arrived to reinforce elements of the 1st Tank Regiment of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division of the 1st Guards Tank Army in unspecified areas of Ukraine with no training at all. Social media footage from September 27 shows a Russian soldier mobilized into the 1st Tank Regiment explaining that he will be sent to fight in Kherson Oblast within two days without any basic training, as ISW reported yesterday. The 1st Guards Tank Army was considered Russia’s premier mechanized force prior to February 24, and that fact that its elements are being reinforced with poorly disciplined, untrained men is consistent with ISW’s previous assessments that even Russia’s most elite units have sustained substantial losses in Ukraine and are therefore increasingly degraded. The addition of newly mobilized forces to elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army is unlikely to lend these units any decisive combat power.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian military leadership has likely failed to set information conditions for the potential defeat of the Russian grouping in Lyman, despite increasingly concerned discourse among Russian milbloggers regarding the potential for a Ukrainian envelopment of Lyman.
  • The Kremlin could temporarily postpone announcing the annexation of Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory to better prepare the Russian information space and administrative organization, although September 30 remains the most likely date for some kind of annexation announcement.
  • Russian authorities continue to send newly-mobilized and undertrained recruits to directly reinforce severely degraded remnants of various units, including units that were previously considered to be Russia’s premier conventional fighting forces.
  • Ukrainian forces likely continued to make significant gains around Lyman on September 28, advancing from the north along the Zelena Dolyna-Kolodiazi arc and from the southeast around Yampil.
  • Ukrainian military officials largely maintained operational silence regarding specific Ukrainian actions in Kherson Oblast on September 28 but stated that Ukrainian troops are continuing positional battles in unspecified locations to consolidate and improve their positions along the Southern Axis.
  • Russian forces continued unsuccessful ground attacks in Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russian military recruitment officials are openly contradicting the Kremlin’s publicly-stated guidelines for mobilization to meet quota requirements even as Kremlin propaganda is attempting to change the public perception of partial mobilization.
  • Russian authorities are beginning to restrict the movement of Russian citizens into Russian border regions to cope with hundreds of thousands of Russian men attempting to flee the country.

Ukraine will respond if there is an offensive from Belarus, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Current Time. “We understand that daily, Putin is putting pressure on Lukashenko to launch armed aggression from Belarus. We know everything. Even the recent meeting in Sochi was on this topic, [Oleksiy Danilov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, said]

I don’t think Lukashenko will make such a decision. But if Belarussian troops invade the country, as happened on 24 February, they will receive a response that they did not expect.

Danilov also believes that Putin will not dare to use strategic nuclear weapons. According to him, even if the Russian dictator uses tactical nuclear weapons, this will be the end of Russia – the isolation of the Russian Federation from the civilised world will immediately begin. Danilov is sure that in this case, no one will want to deal with Russia, including the Chinese.”

Blinken: Ukraine can use US-provided weapons ‘to regain occupied territories’, Kyiv Independent reports. “According to CNN, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sept. 27 that Ukraine “would be able to use” the weapons provided by the US to regain its territory, including in Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson oblasts where Russia held its sham referendums. 

“I’ve also been equally clear that Ukraine has the absolute right to defend itself throughout its territory, including to take back the territory that has been illegally seized in one way or another by Russia,” Blinken said as quoted by CNN.

Earlier today, Russian leaders declared that nearly 100% of the people living in the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson oblasts voted to join Russia in sham referendums. Blinken said that the US “will never recognize the annexation of Ukrainian territory by Russia.”

Kyiv said that Russia’s illegal annexation votes would not change Ukraine’s counteroffensive plans and that there would be no peace talks in case these “referendums” take place.”

US military official: Jury still out on Nord Stream pipeline ‘sabotage’, Reuters reports. “Despite concerns by US allies that ruptures of the Nord Stream pipelines were deliberate acts, the United States believes it is too soon to conclude there was sabotage, a senior US military official said on Wednesday. The jury is still out, the official said, briefing Pentagon reporters on the condition of anonymity. Many of our partners, I think, have determined or believe it is sabotage. I’m just — I’m not at the point where I can tell you one way or the other.

As gas spewed out under the Baltic Sea for a third day after first being detected, it remained far from clear who might be responsible for any sabotage of the pipelines that Russia and European partners spent billions of dollars building.”

Russia’s Ukraine gas transit sanction threat a fresh blow for Europe, Reuters reports. “If Moscow carries out a threat to sanction Ukrainian energy firm Naftogaz, one of the last functioning Russian gas supply routes to Europe could be shut, exacerbating the energy crisis just as the crucial winter heating season begins. […]

(Sanctions) would make into reality the worst-case scenario that European governments have been preparing for all summer, a European gas market without Russian gas, said Natasha Fielding, head of EMEA gas pricing at Argus Media. Transit through Ukraine is the only Russian gas delivery route to Europe still in use besides the Turkish Stream pipeline, which serves southeast European countries, she added.

Dutch wholesale gas prices, the European benchmark, shot up after Gazprom’s talk of sanctions on Tuesday, and rallied as much as 13% on Wednesday to stand around 120% higher since the start of the year.

Gas flows via the only operational Ukraine transit route through Sudzha are currently around 42 million cubic metres a day. Kyiv had already in May suspended the Sokhranivka route which delivered almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe through Ukraine, declaring force majeure.

According to data from think-tank Bruegel, the European Union (EU) imported around 155 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas from Russia last year or about 12.9 bcm a month. Russian gas imports from the start of 2022 to the end of last week stood at 60 bcm, compared with 81 bcm in the first half of last year alone, according to Bruegel’s data. […]

Should the Sudzha flows come to a halt, the only Russian gas being piped to Europe would be via Turkey and the Black Sea through TurkStream, which has an annual capacity of around 31.5 bcm. […]

Governments have been scrambling to diversify supply, buying more liquefied natural gas from suppliers such as the United States, Qatar and Egypt, as well as introducing measures to curb demand domestically and save energy. As a result, European gas storage was 88% full as of Sept. 26, although there are variations between countries.

There needs to be a combination of ‘ifs’ to threaten Europe’s energy supplies this winter, including a harsh winter, prolonged French nuclear outages, and other infrastructure issues, said Norbert Rücker, head of economics and next generation research at investment bank Julius Baer. However, a greater risk remains for next winter as countries will end this year’s winter gas season with very low stocks and have less Russian pipeline gas available than ever before to replenish stocks during the spring and summer.”

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

World Bank’s Malpass sees risk of stagflation, likely recession in Europe, Reuters reports. “World Bank President David Malpass on Wednesday warned that it could take years for global energy production to diversify away from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, prolonging the risk of stagflation, or a period of low growth and high inflation.

In a speech at Stanford University, Malpass said there was an increased likelihood of a recession in Europe, while China’s growth was slowing sharply and US economic output had contracted in the first half of the year.

Those developments would have grave consequences for developing countries, Malpass said, citing what he called “consequential” and “worsening” challenges facing development.

Addressing the current “perfect storm” of rising interest rates, high inflation and slowing growth required new macro- and microeconomic approaches, including better targeted spending and clearly messaged efforts to increase supplies, Malpass said.”

Hans Petter Midttun: The hybrid war is the parallel and synchronized use of both military and non-military means to destabilise countries and alliances from within. Russia has been waging a hybrid war against both the USA and Europe (including Ukraine) since at least 2014.

Still, the strategic narrative from Heads of State in the West is that Russia is waging war against Ukraine (only) and that they are doing their best to avoid escalating the war into a broader confrontation between Russia and NATO.

Since 2007, however, Russia has been constantly escalating irrespectively of – or even because of – the Western desire to de-escalate. Having decided to take all military options off the table, we have allowed Russia freedom to escalate or de-escalate the Euro-Atlantic security situation at its whim.

It has always chosen escalation and war over a peaceful resolution of the war.

While NATO has reluctantly acknowledged that “The Euro-Atlantic area is not at peace”, Russia has consistently claimed to be at war. Russia has already defined NATO as a threat and a party to the conflict. It has publically declared that the West is waging an information wareconomic war, acts of aggression, war with Russia through a proxy and a total war. It sees our defence aid to Ukraine as proof of our direct participation in the war and is openly threatening nuclear war.

The EU has acknowledged that Russia has been waging a Hybrid War against the West for years. On 14 September, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated that:

Much is at stake here. Not just for Ukraine – but for all of Europe and the world at large. And we will be tested. Tested by those who want to exploit any kind of divisions between us. This is not only a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. This is a war on our energy, a war on our economy, a war on our values and a war on our future. This is about autocracy against democracy,” von der Leyen said. She added that “with courage and solidarity, Putin will fail and Ukraine and Europe will prevail.”

NATO has in contrast, reluctantly acknowledged that “The Euro-Atlantic area is not at peace”.

Why is this important? While the Heads of State, governments, parliamentarians and the media insist on calling the ongoing war a “Russian-Ukrainian war” and discuss the implications of the Russian mobilisation of 300,000 men and the escalation of the war, they ignore the prospect of a Russian escalation of the broader confrontation. Equally important, they fail to prepare the European population for a war that is already taking place.

The hybrid war against the West has been escalating in parallel with the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The two are interlinked. The ever-increasing “tsunami of ripple effects” from the war underpins the assessment. The use of nuclear blackmail is a part of its warfighting in the cognitive sphere attempting to manipulate key policy- and decision-makers (as well as populations) into making the political decisions Russia wants, further strengthening the argument. It aims to destabilize, create fear, and promote passivity.

The best example, however, is energy. Russia has been ramping up its ability to wage an energy war since 2014. Since the start of the full-scale invasion and finding itself exposed to unprecedented sanctions from the West, Russia has gradually decreased its gas supplies to Europe. It has defined Europe as the weak link in what it sees as a broader conflict.

Did Russia damage its own gas transmission system in the Baltic Sea? While it might prove difficult to prove, it is very likely. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline alone is constructed of 202,000 huge pieces of piping, each 12 meters long. The piping uses around 4 centimetres of steel, which is covered with 11 centimetres of concrete. The pipes are not built to break. It requires a unique set of capabilities to sabotage the pipeline at the given water depth. It fits nicely into its ongoing energy war and happens days before it escalates further, threatening to cut the gas delivery through the Ukrainian pipelines.

What will be its next escalation of the broader confrontation with the West?

On 3 April 2021, a 4.3 kilometre long and 9.5-ton submarine cable went missing from the Lofoten-Vesterålen Ocean Observatory (LoVe Ocean) in Northern Norway. LoVe Ocean was established as a research laboratory to monitor biological activity such as spawning behaviour in Norwegian fish stocks in this very central area for Norwegian fishing activity. The network was, however, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment also capable of detecting submarines and other maritime activity. The Institute of Marine Research, consequently, collaborated with the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI), which first extracts and analysis signals related to military activity.

On the day the cables went missing, ship traffic was low. Russian fishing vessels were, however, repeatedly observed crossing over the cable.

On 7 January 2022, Norway experienced another underwater disruption. One of two of what is the world’s northernmost fiberoptic subsea cables were disrupted between 130 to 230 kilometres from Longyearbyen in the area where the seabed goes from 300 meters down to 2700 meters in the Greenland Sea. “In addition to providing the settlement of Longyearbyen with internet broadband, the fibre optic cables serve the SvalSat park of more than 100 satellite antennas on a nearby mountain plateau. SvalSat is today the world’s largest commercial ground station with worldwide customers. Its location at 78°N, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, gives the station a unique position to provide all-orbit support to operators of polar-orbiting satellites.”

On the day the cables were damaged, the fishing vessels operating over the LoVe Ocean cables of Vesteraalen in April 2021 were also operating over the fiberoptic subsea cables near Svalbard.

Who is responsible for damaging subsea cables and pipelines will always be hard to prove. According to the Norwegian Intelligence Service:

More than 97 per cent of all traffic on the internet runs through subsea cables. Practically all Western countries today rely on infrastructure on the ocean floor for communications and for maintaining economic activity. It is extremely difficult to protect cables and other vital underwater installations, which are crucial to the oil and gas sector, for instance, against sabotage.

The global network of subsea cables has a built-in surplus capacity and backup solutions, but in the event of major damages and breakdowns, these solutions will not be able to handle the amount of information. A major breakdown of the subsea cable network would affect functions that are vital to society and complicate any form of international cooperation.”

Russia has the means and capacity to threaten subsea cables and underwater installations like gas pipelines. More importantly, Russia is engaged in a broader confrontation with the West (irrespectively of the West’s denial of the fact).

Norway is presently delivering 25% of the gas the EU requires. The supplies have just become crucial to Europe as Russia threatens to curtail its already limited gas delivery.

Norway’s North Sea oil rigs have recently increased security after being buzzed by unknown drones.

The next step of Russian escalation of its confrontation with the West is, in my humble opinion, likely to be aimed against its critical vulnerability. Subsea cables and gas pipelines, and the gas rigs themselves.

It is high time the West starts responding resolutely to the Russian Hybrid War against Ukraine, Europe and the USA.   FF

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