- Zelensky reminds NATO reps in Kyiv that Russia will target utilities again this winter
- US Dept of Defense nominee says he will give Ukraine “what it needs, when it needs it”
- No more ground attacks in Kupiansk as Russians fly westward to bomb closer to Kharkiv
- Intercepted Russian drones seem to contain fewer foreign parts, ISW reports
- Russian military bloggers self-edit and withhold posts in wake of Kremlin crackdown
Russia boosts defense spending as NATO chief, British and French defense ministers visit Kyiv
AFP on Thursday reported that Russia plans to raise defense spending by almost 70 percent next year, to finance what it termed a “hybrid war,” waged against Ukraine but mostly financially defended by the West.
“We need to get through this winter together, to protect our energy infrastructure and people’s lives,” Zelensky said in comments directed to Stoltenberg, according to AFP, reminding his Western allies that Russia last year targeted energy infrastructure, leaving millions of Ukrainians scrambling for hot water and heating.
“Every meter that Ukrainian forces regain is a meter that Russia loses. Moscow is fighting for imperialist delusions,” Stoltenberg agreed.
Grilled by GOP senators, US Defense nominee tells them: “We need Ukraine to win”
AP reported Thursday that the new nominee for US Department of Defense Undersecretary for Policy, Derek Chollet, told the Senate that he would “move Heaven and Earth” to get Ukrainian troops whatever aid they needed, when faced with conservative senators’ pressure about the amount of money that President Joe Biden was approving for Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee interrogated Chollet, who served previously in the Pentagon as assistant secretary for international security, about alleged mistakes the Biden administration made in its hurried exit from Afghanistan. They also pressed him on the security of the US-Mexico border, a hot-button topic among GOP leaders in this election year, but which ultimately has little to do with the brief of Chollet’s nominated position within the Pentagon. This comes against a backdrop of American far-right leaders’ campaign to draw back or cease military funding to Ukraine.
Chollet responded that it is indeed imperative for the United States to learn from the 20-year war in Afghanistan and said that, if he is confirmed, he “will move Heaven and Earth to get the Ukrainians what they need, when they need it.”
“We need to think about what they can operate, what they can maintain, what would be most effective in the fight,” he said. “We need Ukraine to win.”
Invading forces seem to swap infantry fight in Kupyansk for airstrikes further northwest
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted that the Russian infantry’s artillery attacks along the long-contested Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line seem to have slowed or halted completely on Thursday, while Russian aviation units have increased airstrikes to the north and west closer to Kharkiv.
ISW analysts posited that this near cessation of ground operations indicates that the Ukrainian ground offensives have “significantly degraded” Russian forces there, pushing them to retreat southward. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) posted on Thursday that in fact there were no Russian attacks in the Kupyansk and Lyman vicinities, and only one in Bilohorivka, south of Kreminna.
At the same time, however, the ISW reported that Russian aviation has apparently stepped up its bombardment this week of bridges along the Oskil River to protect Russian formations east of the water, and also struck targets just west of the previous days’ attacks near Kreminna.
Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash said on Thursday that Russian Su-35 attack aircraft and Ka-52 helicopters are increasingly active in the Kupyansk and Lyman areas: 21 airstrikes in all.
AFU says it downed 31 of 39 drones, which might contain fewer foreign components
31 of 39 Russian-launched Shahed drones over Ukraine. The Ukrainian Air Force reported that Russian forces launched the drones from Primorsko-Akhtarsk, near the Russian city of Krasnodar, and others from occupied Crimea.
Interestingly, the guts of the intercepted Russian UAVs seem to show fewer internationally supplied components, which has been the subject of Western media investigations in recent weeks, questioning the efficacy of sanctions intended in part to slow down the production of Russian weaponry.
The ISW quoted the spokesman for the Ukrainian Center for the Research of Trophy and Prospective Weapons and Military Equipment of the Ukrainian General Staff, Captain Andriy Rudyk, as saying that Russian companies have modified the Russian-produced Shahed-136 drones to contain more domestically produced parts, “but have not improved the drone’s tactical or technical characteristics.”
ISW laments that Moscow’s pressure on its military bloggers is hurting frontline reporting
According to an ISW update on Thursday, “some notably critical Russian [military] bloggers claimed that they only publish five to 15 percent of the information they receive. One blogger claimed that problems with communications, drones, tires, electronic warfare, personnel payments, and various other issues persist among Russian forces on the frontline but that Russian personnel attempt to mitigate these problems through connections and personal initiatives, likely because Russian commanders routinely silence complaints and ignore efforts to fix problems.”
It cited one military blogger as saying that “the ability to remain silent at the right moment is an important quality” while another boots-on-the-ground source, it said, deleted part of a post this week which had claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced near Novoprokopivka (13 km south of Orikhiv) and controlled the northeastern part of the settlement, but later edited the post to claim simply that Ukrainian forces “attacked near Robotyne” just north of Novoprokopivka.
Footage published later in the day and geolocated by the ISW showed that Ukrainian forces had in fact advanced 1.5 km northeast of Novoprokopivka.
“The milblogger’s deletion suggests that Russian sources are intentionally limiting their reporting on tactical actions, especially to those with outcomes unfavorable to Russia.”
See video of alleged Russian soldiers surrendering, wearing Ukrainian uniforms
An unverified video posted to Twitter on Thursday shows what are said to be Russian soldiers wearing Ukrainian uniforms, surrendering to AFU soldiers.
Russians wearing Ukrainian uniforms‼️— PStyleOne1 (@PStyle0ne1) September 28, 2023
In the Zaporizhzhia area, fighters of the 128th separate mountain assault brigade, in cooperation with military intelligence, captured an enemy unit, which, with Ukrainian uniforms, tried to infiltrate into Ukraine controlled territory to… pic.twitter.com/QXrgLMl4FV
While it is unclear whether these were in fact Russian soldiers intending, as the post claims, to perform sabotage behind Ukrainian lines, it does bring up an interesting discussion about wartime conventions governing the practice.
According to US military custom, at least, soldiers wearing the enemy’s flags, insignias, etc. “lose their right to be treated as prisoners of war whenever they deliberately conceal their status in order to pass behind the military lines,” according to a US Army field manual and the International Humanitarian Law Database.
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