**LETTER FROM DONBAS**
**‘Kill Your Commanding Officer’: On the Front Lines of Putin’s Digital War With Ukraine**
**For years, the Russians have used Ukraine as a proving ground for a new type of digital warfare. Is the West ready?**
**By Kenneth R. Rosen, Politico, 02/15/2022**
**On July 11, 2014, in the town of Zelenopillya, roughly five miles from the Ukrainian border with Russia, the brigade had planned to sever the supply line of the Donbas separatists when electronic warfare caught them by surprise. Witnesses described the scene to me: First there came the humming of an unmanned aerial vehicle able to clone cellular networks to locate active cellphones, followed by cyberattacks against Ukrainian command and control systems. Their communication systems disabled, Ukrainian forces were unable to coordinate with one another. Then, short-range rocket systems from inside Russia disabled two battalions, including T-64 tanks and amphibious tracked vehicles. Three trucks carrying troops exploded. Stumbling from the transport, one soldier clutched his entrails, and shouted for his mother. The attack killed 30 Ukrainians and wounded hundreds and lasted roughly two minutes....**
**Russian-supported forces can deploy personalized propaganda and location tracking thanks to its use of UAVs but also its control of cellphone towers and the cellular companies that provide coverage to much of Ukraine.**
**Meanwhile, the Russian military has relocated more electronic warfare equipment to the borders with Ukraine, such as the Leer-3 RB-341V, a drone-based system that can monitor cellular and data transmission networks, suppress wireless communications, locate electromagnetic emission sources and even send text messages to front-line soldiers....** [end quote]
Cyberattacks large and small, outright control of electronic infrastructure, disinformation on a huge scale…hybrid warfare joining cyber war and physical war. Ukraine is a proving ground for a type of warfare which makes it vulnerable at many levels.
DH and I just watched “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” on Netflix. It’s a documentary with original footage about the 2013-2014 popular uprising against the failure of Viktor Yanukovych’s government to sign a deal with the European Union. There’s little context or explanation but it’s clear that the Ukrainians can cohere and fight in a cause they believe in.
Not that they have a chance against the Russian army, not to mention crippling cyberattacks.