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Russian forces unnerved by Ukraine's hit-and-run attacks behind front lines in Crimea, think tank says

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 8/18/2022 Jamie McIntyre
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RUSSIAN LEADERSHIP ‘LOSING CONFIDENCE’: Russian commanders in occupied Crimea are scrambling to disperse their forces in the face of successful attacks by Ukrainian special forces operating behind enemy lines with the help of local residents, according to the latest assessment from the Institute for the Study of War.

The Washington-based think tank cites a report from Ukraine’s military intelligence agency that Russian forces are relocating dozens of fixed and rotary wing aircraft stationed in forward airfields in Crimea to areas deeper in the Crimean Peninsula and in mainland Russia.

“Russian military leadership is likely increasingly losing confidence in the security of Crimea following recent Ukrainian strikes on Russian military objects in Crimea,” the ISW assessment says, noting that the Russian commander of the Crimean-based Black Sea Fleet has been replaced.

“Recent Ukrainian strikes (associated with Ukrainian partisans and Ukrainian Armed Forces) on Russian military assets in Crimea, including the headquarters of the BSF in Sevastopol, have likely placed Russian forces on high alert and led to the restructuring of force composition, logistics, and leadership of the Russian grouping in Crimea in order to mitigate the impact of further strikes,” the ISW concludes.

ZELENSKY HOSTS UN, TURKEY: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are both in Lviv, the western Ukrainian city near the Polish border, for face-to-face talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The talks are expected to center largely on the grain export deal brokered by Erdogan, as well as the dangerous situation at Europe's largest nuclear power plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the beginning weeks of the war, and which Ukraine claims is being used as a fire base for artillery strikes.

Guterres will discuss “his overall efforts to do what he can to essentially lower the temperature as much as possible,” according to U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.

RUSSIA TANK WARFARE FAILURE: Since the beginning of the war Ukraine claims to have destroyed more than 1,800 Russian tanks, thanks in large part to the effectiveness of U.S-supplied Javelin tank-busting missiles.

But the British Defense Ministry cites another factor, the shockingly poor performance of Russian tank crews in executing basic maneuver warfare tactics, including their “failure to fit and properly employ adequate Explosive Reactive Armor.”

“Used correctly, ERA degrades the effectiveness of incoming projectiles before they hit the tank. This suggests that Russian forces have not rectified a culture of poor ERA use, which dates back to the First Chechen War in 1994,” the U.K. says in its daily intelligence update. “It is highly likely that many Russian tank crews lack the training to maintain ERA, leading to either poor fitting of the explosive elements, or it being left off entirely.”

The assessment says the poor training of Russian tank crews is also likely responsible for the high number of “turret ejections,” a phenomenon whereby the top of the tank is blown off due to the storage of ammunition in the turret, instead of in a secure compartment.


Good Thursday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Victor I. Nava. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.


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HAPPENING TODAY: Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks is in Indiana, where she will deliver remarks this afternoon at Purdue University focusing on advanced hypersonic manufacturing. Hicks’s 4 p.m. speech will be livestreamed at the Pentagon's website:

McKENZIE: REGRETS, HE HAS A FEW: In an interview with NBC News, former U.S. Central Commander, retired Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie essentially endorses one of the primary conclusions of the House GOP investigation of the Afghanistan withdrawal one year ago, namely that the situation could have been stabilized had President Joe Biden agreed with his advice to maintain the presence of 2,500 U.S. troops, buttressed by 6,000 NATO forces, and some 15,000 contractors.

“I felt very strongly that we had the ability to keep a platform in Afghanistan at about 2,500,” McKenzie told NBC Pentagon correspondent Courtney Kube. “I would have preferred to hold Bagram [Air Base] at 2,500, but that's what it would have taken, and that would also assume the Afghans would stand a fight with you, and we thought the Afghans would stand a fight with us at 2,500.”

McKenzie said he felt the withdrawal was doomed from the moment Biden announced the U.S. was leaving despite the Taliban’s failure to hold up their side of the 2020 Doha agreement.

“I believe that what happened in August of last year occurred when we decided to leave completely in April of that year, and once you make that basic decision, then events took on a certain trajectory. That's not a military decision, that's a political decision,” McKenzie told NBC. “I think the U.S. failure in Afghanistan was not the failure solely of the U.S. military, although we certainly bear responsibility for that, but a whole of government approach that simply failed.”

It could have been much different, he said. “I've thought about it every day. It's something that I spent a lot of time, a lot of time considering. The lost opportunities, you know, what it meant. The loss of human beings, American and others, occurred over not only the last part of the evacuation, but also the course of a 20-year war.”

And he admits he has regrets. “There's all kinds of things that I would do differently,” he said. “I'll tell you, I wish we had begun to bring people out earlier. You always go back, and you examine that. I wish we had seen that coming.”


BOLTON: ‘OBVIOUSLY INSUFFICIENT DETERRENCE’: Former national security adviser John Bolton, who was a target of an alleged Iranian assassination plot, says the Biden administration response, especially in the wake of the near fatal attack on author Salman Rushdie, is wholly inadequate.

“Should Iran attack any of our citizens, to include those who continue to serve the United States or those who formerly served, Iran will face severe consequences,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in an Aug.10 statement.

“That's obviously insufficient deterrence. And it means waiting until somebody is dispatched,” Bolton said on CNN yesterday. “Salman Rushdie was grievously wounded. It's a miracle he's alive. So, if we have to wait until the Revolutionary Guards or their agents actually kill somebody before we do anything, then I think the Iranians are going to continue to be encouraged.”

“I think you have got to say to the Iranians, we are walking away from the negotiations over the nuclear deal. You are a thoroughly uncivilized government. We know you're not worth your word on anything. And we're going to take steps to protect Americans and to protect the wider world against your threat, not the nuclear issue over here and the terrorism issue over there,” Bolton said. “It is the regime itself that's a threat. And we are going to do what we need to do to protect ourselves and our allies.”


SYRIA DENIES HOLDING TICE: The Syrian Foreign Ministry, in a statement issued Wednesday, is denying that it has any information about the whereabouts of American journalist Austin Tice, who was abducted 10 years ago. Last week, Biden said the U.S. knows “with certainty” that Tice has been held by the Syrian government.

In a statement, the Syrian government denied “kidnapping or arresting U.S. citizens, among them Austin Tice, a service member in the U.S. Army.” The Syrian statement called Biden’s assertions that the U.S. ‘knows” Tice is being held, “invalid accusations against the Syrian government.”


The Rundown

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Washington Examiner: Opinion: India has not earned US military's increasing support

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Xi's miserable summer

AP: Donetsk leader calls for ‘beneficial’ ties with North Korea

AP: Urban combat and beyond: Ukrainian recruits get UK training

Washington Post: In Ukraine, a Russian mercenary group steps out of the shadows

New York Times: Ukrainians Behind Enemy Lines Tell Invaders: You’re Never Safe

Reuters: Ukraine Carries Out Emergency Drills Near Nuclear Plant On Frontline

Reuters: Russian Shakes Up Black Sea Fleet Command After Series Of Blows In Crimea - State Agency

Wall Street Journal: China Will Participate In Russian Military Exercises

Reuters: Taiwan Envoy To U.S. Says China Bullying Spurs Foreign Interest In Visits To Island

Reuters: 'Nowhere To Hide' If War Comes To Taiwan's Front-Line Islands

Breaking Defense: PLA Exercises After Pelosi Taiwan Visit Were Largely Pre-Planned

Reuters: Taliban Test Repaired Helicopters, Planes In Flyover Of Capital

Breaking Defense: Potentially Strong Solar Storm Could Disrupt GPS, Radio Communications: NOAA

AP: Media to ask judge to release Trump search warrant affidavit Marines Reporting 'Tremendous Success' Convincing Troops To Stay In The Service

Air Force Magazine: Promotion Rate for Staff Sergeants Hits Lowest Point Since 1997

Air Force Magazine: With FMS, Air Force Looks to Integrate With Allies Earlier and in New Ways Special Forces and Missiles: How Ukraine Is Taking the Fight to Russia Putin Is Dreaming Up a Plan for New Russian Navy Aircraft Carrier What Happened to France's Plan for a New Aircraft Carrier?

The Cipher Brief: We Know Afghanistan’s Past, but Where is it Headed?

The Cipher Brief: IT Modernization in the IC- PT 1



8:50 a.m. 400 Courthouse Square, Alexandria — Institute for Defense and Government Advancement Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems Summit, with Army Col. Tony Behrens, deputy director of the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization

10:15 a.m. Colorado Springs, Colorado — National Defense Industrial Association 2022 Space Warfighting Integration Forum with opening keynote remarks from Lt. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander U.S. Space Command.

11 a.m. — Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments webinar: “China’s Strategic Choices,” and accompanying report, China’s Strategic Choices: A New Tool for Assessing the PLA’s Modernization,with retired Adm. Philip Davidson, former commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

12 p.m. 1717 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. — Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies discussion: "Bosnia Herzegovina in Crisis," with former Bosnia Herzegovina Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija

11 a.m. Pentagon River Entrance — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomes Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah to the Pentagon

2:30 p.m. 1000 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. — Cato Institute book discussion: "America's Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition," with author Ali Wyne, senior analyst at the Eurasia Group; Emma Ashford, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; Zack Cooper, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; and Eric Gomez, director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute


4 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. — American Enterprise Institute in-person book forum event: “A New Approach to US-China Relations,” with Aaron Friedberg, nonresident senior fellow, AEI and author of Getting China Wrong; and Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies, AEI


12 p.m. — Association of the U.S. Army “Noon Report” webinar: “Army Counter-Drone Efforts,” with Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, director, Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office and director of fires in the office of the deputy Army chief of staff for operations. Register at


10 a.m. — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace virtual Nuclear Deterrence and Missile Defense Forum, with Rear Adm. Scott Pappano, program executive officer, strategic submarines

1:00 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. N.W. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual and in-person event: “The Future of Army Vertical Lift,” with Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, director, Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team, U.S. Army Futures Command; and Cynthia Cook, director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and senior fellow, International Security Program


“I've thought about it every day. It's something that I spent a lot of time, a lot of time considering. The lost opportunities, you know, what it meant. The loss of human beings, American and others, occurred over not only the last part of the evacuation, but also the course of a 20-year war.”

Retired Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, former commander of the U.S. Central Command, in an interview with NBC, expressing regrets about the disastrous end to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.


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Tags: National Security, Daily on Defense, War in Afghanistan, War in Ukraine, Iran

Original Author: Jamie McIntyre

Original Location: Russian forces unnerved by Ukraine's hit-and-run attacks behind front lines in Crimea, think tank says


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