As the fight for Bakhmut continued, Russia launched another wave of missile attacks against Ukrainian civilian targets, the AP reports. Kharkiv, Odesa and Zaporizhzhia were especially hard hit. According to the BBC, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was directly attacked and now has no electricity.
Avril Haines, the US director of national intelligence (DNI), told the Senate yesterday that the US intelligence community assesses that Russia is unlikely to be able to recover from its losses or achieve significant territorial gains in Ukraine this anus. The Guardian quotes her as listing Russia’s problems as including, in addition to high casualties, “shortage of personnel and ammunition, dysfunction within the military leadership, burnout and moral challenges.” And she thinks that the president of Russia now understands this. “Putin probably has a better understanding of the limits of what his military is capable of achieving and appears to be focused on more modest military objectives for now,” Haines said.
Returning to asymmetric warfare when symmetrical warfare fails.
DNI Haines also predicted a further turn by Russia towards alternative forms of military power. “Russia will become even more dependent on asymmetric options such as China’s nuclear, cyber, space and capabilities,” Insider was quoted as saying by her.
Such alternatives have faced their own challenges. Bloomberg reviews, again, how difficult Russia has had to mount effective cyber offensives against Ukraine and Ukraine’s allies. Part of this is due to deterrence, but much of the failure is attributed to effective Ukrainian defenses. There has also been evidence of Russia’s inability to sustain focused cyber-offensives for a long enough period of time to have a decisive effect. For example, it has proved more difficult than anticipated for the Russian services to maintain unity of effort in the criminal gangs on which they depend as auxiliaries. Some of those gangs, like Conti, split over the war in Russia.
That said, gangs remain important to Russia’s cyber operations, and the governments of Ukrainian-friendly nations are unwilling to overlook criminal connections to Russia’s intelligence and security services. Australian officials, for example, Record reports, have called on Moscow to bring the ransomware gangs it hosts and enable “to their side.”
Airborne command and control deficiencies?
Belarus has acknowledged previously reported and now confirmed damage to an A-50U MAINSTAY aircraft. UK Ministry of Defense reports: “On March 7, 2023, the President of Belarus, Alexandr Lukashenko, confirmed that one of the A-50U MAINSTAY D airborne early warning and control aircraft of the small Russian fleet deployed in Belarus had been damaged. It is almost certain that the aircraft was attacked by a small unmanned aerial system.MAINSTAY is now likely to have been moved to a repair facility in Taganrog in Russia.The transit flight allegedly took place at a lower altitude than usual, likely due to damage to the pressurized cabin. MAINSTAY was likely providing situational awareness of the MiG-31K FOXHOUND.D fighter jet modified to launch the AS-24 KILLJOY air-launched ballistic missile, which Russia considers a key strategic capability. modification caused the jets’ internal radar to be removed to balance the airframe, making pilots dependent on external sources s of situational awareness, such as MAIN: It is a realistic possibility that the Russian-Belarusian joint air activity will now be forced to rely on ground control and escort by fighters. t until another PRINCIPAL can be implemented.”