November 12, 2023

Institute for the Study of War:  Ukraine attacks Russian logistics, headquarters in rear  area

Institute for the Study of War

Ukraine appears to be intensifying attacks against Russian military, logistics, and other high-profile assets in rear areas in occupied Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on November 12 that Ukrainian partisans attacked a Russian military headquarters in occupied Melitopol, Zaporizhia Oblast on November 11, killing at least three Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and Rosgvardia officers. The GUR’s November 12 announcement follows a Ukrainian partisan attack against a former Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) People’s Militia head on November 8; strikes against a Russian military base in occupied Skadovsk, Kherson Oblast and Black Sea Fleet assets in Crimea on November 9; and three rear-area strikes and partisan attacks in Russia on November 11. Ukrainian forces have conducted a strike campaign specifically targeting occupied Crimea since summer 2023.

The Russian government is attempting to downplay the extent of its efforts to strengthen control over the Russian information space. The Russian Ministry of Digital Development claimed on November 12 that it will only block specific virtual private network (VPN) services that an “expert commission” identifies as threats, likely aiming to prevent Russians from bypassing Russian censorship efforts and anonymizing themselves online. The Ministry of Digital Development had responded to an inquiry from the “Novyi Lyudi” faction expressing concern over the Russian government’s efforts to restrict access to information on the internet and fears that the Russian government will simply identify all VPN services as threats and block them. The Russian government recently announced a ban on services that provide virtual and temporary mobile numbers starting on September 1, 2024, and Russians can use these mobile numbers in conjunction with VPN services to form anonymous online personas to evade Russian censorship efforts. The Russian government is very unlikely to allow any VPNs to operate within Russia that would allow Russians to bypass censorship efforts and remain anonymous from the Russian government.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukraine appears to be intensifying attacks against Russian military, logistics, and other high-profile assets in rear areas in occupied Ukraine and Russia.
  • The Russian government is attempting to downplay the extent of its efforts to strengthen control over the Russian information space.
  • Russia continues to posture itself as a prominent security guarantor for authoritarian countries in Africa.
  • Russian forces conducted a limited series of missile strikes targeting southern Ukraine on November 12.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
  • Ukrainian forces made a marginal gain on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast on November 12 amid ongoing ground operations.
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