Russians reportedly disabled their own secure communications system during the attack on Kharkiv | Science and technology news


Russian forces in Kharkiv accidentally disabled their own secure communications systems by destroying the 3G towers they depend on, it has been reported.

UkraineBellingcat’s military has shared an intercepted call that subsequently reported the death of Major General Vitaly Gerasimov to someone identified by Bellingcat’s Christo Grozev as a senior Russian intelligence officer.

The incident is the latest evidence of the technological and equipment challenges Russia‘s invasion force, as evidenced by photos of civilian radios and abandoned and captured vehicles.

Important developments:
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• The Ukrainian President will later deliver a “historic speech” to British MPs
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• Talks between Ukraine and Russia in Belarus
• Commons pass new laws designed to help target Russian oligarchs

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Many civilian buildings in Kharkiv were severely damaged by Russian shelling

What happened?

Ukrainian military intelligence said Major General Gerasimov, chief of staff of the 41st Army, was killed outside Kharkiv.

The country’s second largest city – located in the east, just 30 km south of the Russian border – was under heavy Russian fire.

Ukraine shared what the military said was an intercepted conversation between two FSB officers discussing his death and complaining that their secure communications system was down.

Major General Vitaly Gerasimov shares his surname with Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian Armed Forces, although it has not been confirmed whether the two are related.

Map of Ukraine - uploaded on March 07, 2022
A map of Russian locations as of Monday March 7th

The intercepted conversation

Mr Grozev said he had confirmed the major general’s death with a Russian source and that Bellingcat also identified the senior FSB officer in the intercepted conversation as one known to be based in the Russian city of Tula.

“His boss … pauses for a long time upon hearing the news of Gerasimov’s death (before swearing),” added Mr. Grozev.

“In the call, the Ukraine-based FSB officer can be heard asking his boss if he can talk about the secure Era system. The boss says Era doesn’t work.”

Era is a “very expensive crypto phone system” launched by Russia’s defense ministry last year, Mr Grozev said, along with a guarantee that it would work “in all conditions.”

However, according to Mr. Grozev, the cryptophones need 3G/4G data connections to work, and Russian forces in Kharkiv have destroyed so many 3G towers and replaced others with surveillance devices that they are not working.

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Volodymyr Zelenskyj laments the Russian bombardment

device problems

Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Russian forces have made minimal progress on the ground and that it is “highly unlikely that Russia has successfully achieved its intended objectives to date”.

Photos purportedly from the conflict suggest that Russian forces are keeping their vehicles sleeping outside for fear of attack and that they rely on civilian radios and personal mobile devices to communicate.

Military radios have also been recovered from convoys attacked by Ukrainian forces, but the use of civilian radios means some communications can also be received by civilian devices.

Videos on social media suggest Ukrainian farmers towed away Russian military vehicles and weapons left by their troops.

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