Connect with us

Intelligence

Cyber Element in the Russia-Ukraine War & its Global Implications

Avatar photo

Published

on

Cyber has become a focal point in the conduct of both civil and military operations. Given its emerging destructive potential, it was now become an independent ‘domain’ like land, sea, air, or space in the national military strategy of the United States (US). Besides being a new battle space, this domain serves as a force multiplier to increase or decrease the effectiveness of kinetic operations in terms of its ability to conduct surveillance, espionage, criminal activities; launch disinformation campaigns/propaganda; impact recruitment/planning; incite attacks; crush enemy morale and will to fight; gain insight into the latter’s planning and capabilities; and to mislead the public in order to secure strategic objectives.

Exploitation of the cyber domain in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is a perfect illustration of timing cyber-attacks to gain an upper hand in ground operations. However, this use of cyber also raises serious concerns not only for the warring states’ national security apparatus, institutions and critical infrastructure but is equally a threat to the international community due to the nature of cyber interconnectivity. This means that the threat posed by cyber is overarching and needs to be addressed seriously to avoid any unintended consequences. The article attempts to highlight the scope of cyber in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its implications for the region and the rest of the world.

The cyber element was in full swing even before Moscow’s ground operation was launched. According to some open sources, a cyber-attack was launched on Viasat KA-SAT before the launch of kinetic operations. In fact, Microsoft’s Digital Security Unit has issued a report covering the cyber aspect of this war. According to the report, several cyber-attacks have been launched on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, government, and business agencies. On the opposite side, Ukraine has also been active both on the offensive and defensive fronts. On the offensive front, it has set up an IT Army – a cyber operations force backed by a decentralised hacktivist group – ‘Anonymous’. The IT Army has been successful in launching cyber-attacks against Russia’s critical information infrastructure and other targets of strategic importance, e.g., Russian satellites. ‘Anonymous’ was also able to access important Russian documents regarding Kremlin’s invasion by hacking into the Roskomnadzor system. On the defensive front, Ukraine has strengthened its defence system against cyber-attacks. Paul Chichester, Director of Operations at the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre described the use of cyber-operations in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war as ‘the most sustained set of cyber operations coming up against the best collective defense we have seen.’

Cyber-attacks have not been limited to Ukraine alone. Indeed, the conflict is escalating beyond borders. This aspect was highlighted by Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG).  Russian hackers have also attempted to penetrate the networks of NATO and militaries of several eastern European countries as well. These attacks are an attempt to dissuade the countries supporting Kyiv militarily and economically, and ongoing NATO membership negotiations. Keeping in view Russia’s cyber potential, there are chances that Moscow (through non-state actors) could hack international banking systems to mitigate the economic damage caused by Western sanctions. Keeping in view an expected threat of attacks on energy and financial infrastructure, the US cyber security agency CISA issued its ‘Shields Up’ warning back in early February, urging increased cyber readiness.

The deployment of non-state actors by both parties (Russia and Ukraine) has blurred the lines between ‘cyber war’ and ‘cyber terrorism’. This ambiguity between state and non-state actors has increased the chances of unintended escalation or spread of this conflict. The link to escalation was made in Russia’s 2020 nuclear declaratory policy wherein the state holds the right to use nuclear weapons under a range of contingencies, such as attacks on critical governmental or military sites. The statement of  Dimitry Rogozin, Head of the Russian Space Agency also made it clear that ‘hacking satellites would constitute an act of war.’

The precedence (set by the US) upholds that a cyber-attack on nuclear Command, Control, and Communication (NC3) facilities can constitute a non-nuclear strategic attack, and therefore, will justify the use of nuclear weapons as a response. NATO also reiterates the same approach by reserving the right to respond with conventional weapons if subjected to a powerful cyber-attack. These policy directives show that cyber-attacks could result in aggravating the risk of kinetic escalation, including a nuclear one.

It has, therefore, become clear that cyber remains an important strategic domain in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war as well as future conflicts. Given the complicated nature and evolving dynamics of cyber warfare, it is vital for the global community to form a broader international security regime and frame a code of conduct for states which are actively involved in this domain. This can be done by identifying critical infrastructures that are crucial to national security which either remain beyond the ambit of a cyber-attack or are placed in the maximum retaliation category. Warring countries and their supporters should be fully aware of the disruptive potential of technologies like cyber and ‘shield up’ their defences accordingly. Moreover, states should adopt responsible behaviour in the application of such technologies. Otherwise, the risk of inadvertent escalation would significantly increase, and may be beyond the control of warring states and the international community once it starts.

Continue Reading
Comments

Intelligence

Afghan Zarqawi is shot dead in Panjsher valley of Afghanistan

Avatar photo

Published

on

According to intelligence information, the leading Taliban commander Maulvi Habibullah Sheeran, who was known as Zarqawi, a resident of Zhrhai District, Kandahar Province, in the southwestern zone of the Taliban was killed in Panjsher battle.

Meantime, the intelligence report indicates, Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, the general military officer of Panjshir and Andrab and the deputy of the Ministry of National Defense, was injured in Panjshir on Friday, September 16 at 3:25 p.m.

Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, who is considered one of the leading and influential war commanders in the southwest zone of the Taliban, has the support of about 4,000 low-ranking and high-ranking Taliban fighters. He is one of the Taliban military commanders who, during the first mobilization of the Taliban, formed the Taliban group with the support of Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid, the founder of the Taliban, and attracted hundreds of young men from Helmand province to the Taliban group.

When the Taliban came to power for the second time in Afghanistan, due to internal differences among the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir left the Taliban for a short time and went to his native Kajki district of Helmand province. However, due to the many efforts of the Taliban, especially Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir’s assistant and the current head of security of presidential palace  Mullah Mutaullah Mubarak, He joined the Taliban again and was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Defense.

Taliban leaders made more efforts to reunite Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir with the Taliban, because he was an influential military leader, and on the other hand, Taliban leaders were receiving reports that Mullah Qayyum Zakir wants to join ISIS against Taliban. Nevertheless, when he joined with the Taliban leaders for the second time, he was assigned the position of Deputy Minister of Defense, So, for a period, he cooperated with the Minister of Defense Maulvi Yaqoub as a military advisor in the Ministry of Defense.

 When the rumors of the fall of the northern part of Afghanistan were spread and the fighting between the NRF or the National Resistance Front and the Taliban in Panjshir and Andrab intensified, Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, based on the special permission of Sheikh Haibatullah, Appointed General Military Officer of Northern Afghanistan. In addition, from September 9, under his leadership, a special military operation named Al-Fath began in Panjshir and Andarabs to clear and liberate northern Afghanistan from the fighters of the National Resistance Front.

As a result of the operation, from September 9th to September 16th, dozens of NRF fighters were also killed but the casualties of Taliban fighters are methodically shown below, although scores of Taliban fighters were destroyed.

  • The bodies of 60 to 70 Taliban fighters who were killed in the battle of Panjshir have been transferred to Uruzgan province.
  •  The dead bodies of 50 Taliban fighters have been transferred to Kandahar Province.
  • The dead bodies of 33 Taliban fighters have been transferred to Helmand Province.
  •  The dead bodies of 22 Taliban fighters have been transferred to Ghor Province.
  • The dead bodies of 11 Taliban fighters have been transferred to Takhar province.
  • The dead bodies of 6 Taliban fighters have been transferred to Kunduz Chahar Dara.
  •  The dead bodies of 12 Taliban fighters have been transferred to Zabul province.
  • The dead bodies of nine Taliban fighters have been transferred to Wardag Province.
  • The dead bodies of 10 Taliban fighters have been transferred to Dandi Ghori in Baghlan province.  

Last Friday, September 16, in the bloody battle, Mullah Qayyum Zakir, the military officer in charge of Panjshir and Andrab, was seriously injured and eight of his bodyguards, who were residents of Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, were killed. Mullah Qayyum Zakir was transferred to the 400-bed hospital in Kabul at 10 o’clock in the evening on September 16, and former Taliban doctor Atiqullah was invited to Kabul from Al-Khair Hospital of Balochistan province of Pakistan for treatment.

There is a bloody war going on in the north of Afghanistan and around 300 al-Fatih forces are going to Panjshir from Kabul tonight and may reach tomorrow. Meanwhile, in Vienna, the plan for the formation of a new military and political movement was announced in a three-day meeting of the anti-Taliban political officials of the former government of Afghanistan. Moreover, based on that military plan, after dividing Afghanistan into five major parts, the political and military leaders of each zone will start preparing their organizations against the Taliban, and they will use such political and military tactics as the Taliban used against the government of the Republic of Afghanistan during the last 20 years of resistance.

Continue Reading

Intelligence

U.S. Finally Admits Ukraine Bombs Zaporizhzhia’s Nuclear Power Plant

Avatar photo

Published

on

The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Ⓒ IAEA

Unnamed American officials, according to the New York Times, have admitted that the explosives fired against Ukraine’s nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia have been fired against the plant by Ukraine’s Government, not by Russia’s Government, and furthermore these officials make clear that Ukraine’s attacks against the plant are a key part of Ukraine’s plan to win its U.S.-backed-and-advised war against Russia, on the battlefields of Ukraine, using Ukrainian soldiers.

Zaporizhzhia is a city in Ukraine that is in Russian-controlled territory, and Ukraine’s strategy is to destroy the ability of the plant to function, so that areas controlled by Russia will no longer be able to benefit from that plant’s electrical-power output. The United States Government helped Ukraine’s Government to come up with this plan, according to the New York Times.

This information was buried by the Times, 85% of the way down a 1,600-word news-report they published on September 13th, titled “The Critical Moment Behind Ukraine’s Rapid Advance”, in which it stated that, “Eventually, Ukrainian officials believe their long-term success requires progress on the original goals in the discarded strategy, including recapturing the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, cutting off Russian forces in Mariupol and pushing Russian forces in Kherson back across the Dnipro River, American officials said.” 

When IAEA inspectors arrived at that plant on September 1st, after a lengthy period of trying to get there to inspect it but which was blocked by Ukraine’s Government, and the IAEA started delivering reports regarding what they were finding at the plant, no mention has, as-of yet, been made concerning which of the two warring sides has been firing those bombs into the plant. Even when the IAEA headlined on September 9th “Director General’s Statement on Serious Situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant”, and reported that the plant’s ability to operate “has been destroyed by shelling of the switchyard at the city’s thermal power plant, leading to a complete power black-out in” the entire region, and that “This is completely unacceptable. It cannot stand.”, and closed by saying they “urgently call for the immediate cessation of all shelling in the entire area,” no mention was made as to which of the two sides was shooting into the plant in order to disable it, and which of the two sides was firing out from the plant in order to protect it against that incoming fire. Previously known was only that the city of Zaporizhzhia has been and is under Russian control ever since March 4th. Consequently, all news-media and reporters have known that (since Russia was inside and Ukraine was outside) Russia has been defending the plant and Ukraine has been attacking it, but until “American officials” let slip, in this news-report, the fact that this has indeed been the case there, no Western news-medium has previously published this fact — not even buried it in a news-report.  

So, although nothing in this regard may yet be considered to be official, or neutral, or free of fear or of actual intent to lie, there finally is, at the very least, buried in that news-report from the New York Times, a statement that is sourced to “American officials,” asserting that this is the case, and the Times also lets slip there that this “shelling” of that plant is an important part of the joint U.S.-Ukraine master-plan to defeat Russia in Ukraine. It is part of the same master-plan, which the U.S. Government recommended to Ukraine’s Government, and which also included the recent successful retaking by Ukraine of Russian-controlled land near the major Ukrainian city of Kharkov, which city’s recapture by Ukraine is also included in the master-plan. Both operations — the shelling of the nuclear power plant, and the recapture of that land near Kharkov — were parts of that master-plan, according to the New York Times.

The Times report asserts that

Long reluctant to share details of their plans, the Ukrainian commanders started opening up more to American and British intelligence officials and seeking advice. Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, and Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to Mr. Zelensky, spoke multiple times about the planning for the counteroffensive, according to a senior administration official. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and senior Ukrainian military leaders regularly discussed intelligence and military support.

And in Kyiv, Ukrainian and British military officials continued working together while the new American defense attaché, Brig. Gen. Garrick Harmon, began having daily sessions with Ukraine’s top officers.

Continue Reading

Intelligence

The US over the Horizon Counterterrorism War from Pakistan

Avatar photo

Published

on

afghanistan terrorism

In the face of the growing political and security crisis caused by China in East Asia, the US is trying to expand its military presence in South Asian countries and use Pakistan’s air space geo-political and counterterrorism objectives.  When the Afghan Taliban came to power in Afghanistan for the second time on August 15, 2021, and on August 30, the 20-year military presence of the United States in Afghanistan came to end completely, while undermining the military and political presence of the United States not only in South Asia but also in the Middle East.

 Furthermore, in East Asia, the possibility of an attack on Taiwan by China is also increasing day to day, hence, the United States prioritize the acquisition of an air base at a strategic point in South Asia in coordination with the Pakistani army and the ISI network in Pakistan. In order to get an airport at a point that has easy access to the border areas of three countries such as China, Afghanistan and Iran. Thus, after August 15, 2021, the United States once again expanded military and diplomatic relations with Pakistan in the region by overthrowing the government of the pro-Sino-Russia party of PTI in Pakistan.

Moreover, strategic communication between the high-ranking military and political officials of both countries, namely Pakistan and the United States have started to meet in relation to the security of the region, especially Afghanistan. The most important visit of high-ranking US officials to South Asia was the visit of William Burns, the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency, in early September 2021.  Mr. Burns agreed with India and Pakistan on such a security mechanism for the region so that America can once again expand its surveillance and military presence in the region.

 Based on that security mechanism, three areas have been marked so that the United States can deploy its drones and naval forces in those areas such as Ladakh, a border region that has been troubled between India and China for years, Shamsi Airport in Pakistan, which is located in Balochistan, and Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, which is currently under the control of the Afghan Taliban.

 From these three areas, number of different types of American unmanned aerial vehicles, including naval forces have been transferred to Pakistan’s Baluchistan Shamsi Airport such as Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance and General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper attack drones. India is still in an uncertain position regarding military cooperation with the United States, and recently, both China and India, in coordination with the defense ministries, have removed soldiers from the Ladakh region.

However, if China does not interfere with the naval forces in the southern port of Sri Lanka, Hambantota, or face to the military development in Sri Lanka, So, India will not delay to give a military base to the US Navy in the Ladakh region. In addition, the third point was Afghanistan, however, several times after August 30, American officials tried to deploy their military forces in Afghanistan under the pretext of protecting the American embassy in Afghanistan through the Taliban’s Doha office in Doha. Nevertheless, it seems that their efforts have failed or the Afghan Taliban have backed away from this move after expanding relations with the Eastern Alliance.

On August 7, 2022, eight days after the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, Pakistan handed over Shamsi Airport to the CIA for the second time.  In return, some of Pakistan’s requests were accepted by the US, which will gradually be adopted into practice.  

-Removing the name of Pakistan from the blacklist of cooperation with terrorist groups.

-forcing the International Monetary Fund or IMF to lend to Pakistan, Agreement on comprehensive military assistance with the Pakistan Army.

-in addition to other material and military assistance.

 From the Shamsi Airbase, America can easily destroy its targets inside Afghanistan besides; it can monitor the border area of ​​Iran and China as well.

Why Shamsi airbase matters?

Pakistan’s Shamsi Airport, located in Washuk, Balochistan, is only 190 km away from the Durand Line, from where American drones can easily monitor Afghanistan entirely, the border areas of Iran and China and the port of Gwadar. Shamsi Airport, located at an altitude of 340 meters above sea level, has a 3012 meter long runway of plane. This airport was built in 1992 by the United Arab Emirates in the name of bird hunting, which was then controlled by the Americans from 2001 to 2011. But when relations between American forces and Pakistan became strained in November 2011, Pakistan ordered American forces to withdraw from Shamsi Airport. Now, once again, this airport has been handed over to the American forces under the leadership of the CIA, to monitor Afghanistan, Iran and East Asia from here.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

World News4 hours ago

Ireland: Rights experts call for redress for 50 years of systemic racism in childcare institutions

UN-appointed independent human rights experts on Friday called on Irish authorities to provide adequate redress for victims of racial discrimination and...

World News6 hours ago

UN experts strongly condemn death of Mahsa Amini

UN independent human rights experts on Thursday strongly condemned the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody...

Terrorism8 hours ago

A Virus Yet to Be Eradicated

Much as everything in this world, human memory knows its limits. Increasingly receding into a background of the past, episodes...

Eastern Europe11 hours ago

Untying the Ukrainian Knot: The Continental Union Project

As the fighting in Ukraine rages on, people continue to die, and infrastructure is being destroyed. This means that the...

Middle East13 hours ago

Middle Eastern Geopolitics in The Midst of The Russo-Ukrainian War

Russia’s national interests have been harmed by the West’s efforts to obstruct Eurasia’s integration and provoke conflict. Support from the...

Russia15 hours ago

The Alliance of Downtrodden Empires

There are many commonalities and differences, to the point of contradiction, in the Russian, Iranian, and Turkish political and economic...

East Asia18 hours ago

Russia and the end of North Korea’s Tong-mi bong-nam strategy

North Korea’s decades old strategy of ‘Tong-mi bong-nam’ (Engage the United States, Block South Korea) and its rare variant (...

Trending