Overview:

  • EU spokesman says Russia is “deliberately” trying to cripple global food supply
  • Cybersecurity chief blames Russian hackers for a large power outage last year
  • Czechs say peace talks could be near; Kyiv says push for negotiations are “uninformed or misled”
  • AFU missile hits Russian troops in hotel in Kherson region, one shot down in Crimea
  • Around Bakhmut, Russians advance as Ukraine takes down the tempo
  • Moscow makes marginal gains near Kupyansk

Attack on a cargo ship in Odesa is “proof of Russia terrorizing civilians,” EU says

After Wednesday’s missile strike on a Liberia-flagged cargo ship in one of Odesa’s ports, a spokesman for the European Union, Peter Stano, said it represented a deliberate act by Moscow to weaken the global food crisis.

“This attack on a foreign civilian vessel is yet another escalation by Russia and proof of Russia terrorizing civilian naval traffic,” Stano posted to X (formerly Twitter). “By targeting Ukrainian ports and export facilities, Russia deliberately exacerbates the global food security crisis.” 

The missile strike hit the superstructure of the cargo ship, killing the port pilot and hospitalizing crew members. 

Russian hackers targeted energy grid, cyber-defense chief tells NBC News

The head of Ukraine’s cyber-defense agency told NBC News on Thursday that Russian hackers were behind an attack on the country’s power grid last year, causing power outages that were assumed previously to have resulted from Russian shelling or airstrikes.

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Victor Zhora, Chief Digital Transformation Officer at the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection, told the US news outlet that the tech hackers work in coordination with the military to cause such outages. They “focus on the energy sector, on critical infrastructure. They strike it with cruise missiles, and they will continuously attempt to hit with cyber tools,” he said. “That’s the trend, that they are focusing on civilian targets.”

NBC News claimed that the incident was the “third known time that hackers successfully penetrated an energy system and caused a power outage.” The two other times, in 2015 and 2016, were attributed to operatives of Russian military intelligence.

Ukraine Urgently Needs Western Aid to Hold Back Russians
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Ukraine Urgently Needs Western Aid to Hold Back Russians

In 2024, Ukraine has no choice but to keep fighting for survival. It requires a steady supply of Western assistance to counter the Russian offensive fueled by ramped-up military production.

Zhora was the keynote speaker Wednesday at the US cybersecurity conference Cyberwarcon, in Arlington, Virginia.

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Operations: Bakhmut

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces (AFU) said that Moscow’s forces conducted nearly 30 attacks northwest and southwest of Bakhmut over the past two days, which is a “notably higher number of attacks than the Ukrainian General Staff typically reports for the Bakhmut area,” the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) pointed out.

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The ISW wrote that there were many Russian blogger claims that invading units had entered Klishchiivka (7 km southwest of Bakhmut) and pushed Ukrainian troops back from the railway to the city’s northeast. The claims were accompanied by geolocated footage published Thursday:

Some Russian sources also claimed that Ukrainian troops have been forced out of positions in and around Andriivka (10 km southwest of Bakhmut), but the ISW said it could not independently verify those claims.

The war analysts suggested that “these localized offensive operations northwest and southwest of Bakhmut are likely opportunistic tactical ground attacks intended to take advantage of the reported reallocation of Ukrainian resources away from Bakhmut,” and that observers noted the pace of Ukrainian artillery fire and ground activity in the Bakhmut direction has decreased in recent days” suggesting Ukrainian redeployment elsewhere.

Operations: Kherson region

Russian sources reported that the AFU launched two missiles at occupied Southern Ukraine on Thursday and that air defenses knocked down only one of them.

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The head of the occupied Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, stated on Thursday that AFU launched a missile at Skadovsk, on the Black Sea, which struck “civilian infrastructure” by the rear areas of Moscow’s forces. Ukrainian military observers said that the missile found its target in a hotel used to quarter Russian officers. (Mariupol’s Mayoral Advisor in exile, Petro Andryushchenko, added that Russian forces used the hotel as a command post.)

Meanwhile, the Kremlin claimed that Russian air defenses intercepted a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile off the coast of Crimea on Thursday. The ISW wrote that Russian sources “amplified imagery purporting to show smoke clouds near Sevastopol following the interception.” 

Kuleba rejects, out of hand, suggestions that peace talks should happen soon

On the same day that Czech President Petr Pavel remarked that there is a possibility that peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv could happen “sometime next year,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister dismissed any suggestions of negotiations as “uninformed or misled.” Pavel was quoted by the Czech newspaper Novinsky as he was speaking at a conference on security and diplomacy on Thursday in Prague.

“Those who argue that Ukraine should negotiate with Russia now are either uninformed or misled,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba posted Thursday on social media. “Or they side with Russia and want Putin to take a pause before an even larger aggression.”

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Kuleba added that Kyiv has held hundreds of rounds of talks with Moscow since 2014. Those negotiations – including a Paris summit between Zelensky and Putin, AFP pointed out – were mediated by Germany and France and proved fruitless.

 

Operations: Kupyansk

Moscow’s troops also continued to make advances along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on Thursday, the ISW reported, with verified footage from Thursday footage suggesting marginal gains south of Pershotravneve (24 km east of Kupyansk).

Meanwhile, the AFU’s General Staff said that Russia’s attacks were defeated near Synkivka (9 km northeast of Kupyansk, the Kharkiv region) and in Stelmakhivka (15 km northwest of Svatove) and Novoyehorivka (16 km southwest of Svatove) in the Luhansk region. By contrast, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that its troops defeated Ukrainian attacks near Synkivka and the surrounding area in the Kharkiv region. Russian sources said that Ukrainians were using Western-provided armored vehicles in this area.

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