The war in Ukraine is in its ninth month. Two important events occurred at the beginning of October that fundamentally changed the nature of the fighting. On the morning of Saturday, 8 October 2022, the Crimean bridge was blown up, causing more than 250m of roadway to collapse into the water. This had a serious impact on the logistics of the Russian Armed Forces. Although vehicles can still drive over the bridge, the repair work will take a considerable amount of time and is not due to be completed until early 2023.
On the same day, it became known that General Sergey Surovikin had been appointed commander of the combined Russian troop grouping in the war in Ukraine. Most experts call this appointment a landmark. Previously, the grouping was commanded from Moscow. Many decisions required long approvals, which undoubtedly had an impact on the conduct of the war. Now General Surovikin has been given carte blanche to manage the troops and will be able, as commander, to make the necessary decisions himself. In the army, Sergey Surovikin is considered a tough military leader who can successfully lead troops in the most difficult situations.
Immediately after his appointment, “General Armageddon” ordered the large-scale bombing of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, primarily electricity grid facilities. Within a month, Ukrainian cities were repeatedly hit by missiles, with at least a third of the power grid damaged. Since 10 October, 30% of Ukrainian power plants have been destroyed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski said on 18 October.
Updates in the National Landscape
On 28 October, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the end of the country’s partial mobilization and reported to Putin on the fulfillment of his tasks. According to the Minister, 300,000 reservists have joined the ranks of the Russian troops as part of the partial mobilization. Of these, 82,000 have already been trained and sent to the line of contact.
Mobilisation has now given the army a chance to recover, allowing the Russian armed forces, exhausted after nearly eight months of fighting, to take a break. Some experts believe that the problem of morale, discipline, and fighting ability of Russian troops in combat zones could lead to a temporary suspension of offensive operations. Evidence has emerged that mobilized troops have been deployed to Ukraine after only a few days or weeks of training, while other groups will only get a month to train. Even before most of the new troops were deployed, evidence emerged of casualties among the mobilized, some of whom had been killed and others who had committed suicide, been captured, or deserted.
On 15 October, a mass shooting took place at a firing range in the Belgorod region during the training of volunteers preparing to take part in the invasion of Ukraine, killing 11 people. The online edition of Baza stated that two of the attackers were Tajik nationals, and the reason for the attack was a religious conflict. According to media reports and Russian telegram channels, Andrei Lapin, the lieutenant colonel in charge of the Russian Forces Central grouping during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was removed from his post in late October. He was linked to a shooting in Belgorod Region.
Transnational Activities & Group Interactions
On 14 October, International Movement Russo-Slavic Union and Revival (RUSOV) reported that Polish comrade-in-arms Artur Chmok, who had served about a year in a Polish prison for his pan-Slavic, pro-Russian views and active participation in the International Movement “RUSOV,” was released, it happened about an hour ago. He was welcomed by his loyal comrades-in-arms from the “Zadružij Krug” organization.
On 29 October, associates of the International Movement Russo-Slavic Union and Revival (RUSOV) from the Polish organization “Zadružij Krug” gathered at a shooting range in Podlaskie Voivodeship, where they held practice shootings, discussed pressing issues, and, of course, conveyed their fraternal support to Russia, Belarus, and Serbia. The banner they held read: “Crimea – Russia” and “Kosovo – Serbia.”
Transnational Developments on Discourse in Mainstream Media
In October, Evgeny Prigozhin, entrepreneur and founder of the private military company Wagner, and Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, marked an active presence in the media field. Both speak from the position of hawks and the war party. Prigozhin’s answers are posted on his Concorde press service’s social media page, which is highly atypical. On 18 October, his press service published a flattering review of Prigozhin’s appointment of a new commander of Russian troops in Ukraine: «Read my statement carefully, one of the key messages I made. Apart from the fact that Surovikin is courageous, intelligent, and makes balanced decisions, he is ‘the most competent commander in the Russian army. But he can act in the current situation based on possibilities he has and on the situation that was given to him by his predecessors, and it was given, to put it mildly, not in the best way… Surovikin is the best and tried to save his Motherland, but his success depends, among other things, on his shells in the tank (the number of shells in his tank)”. As for the Kherson direction, I don’t know much about it, but I know that everything is all right on the Bakhmut».
Kadyrov publishes his comments on his personal Telegram channel. The comments and reactions of Prigozhin and Kadyrov are widely quoted not only in the Russian media but also abroad.
Andrei Rodionov, head of the RUSOV, gave an interview with Serbian journalist Dejan Zlatanovic and Macedonian from the Rodina Macedonia party, Vladimir Trajkovski. They mainly talked about the course of the war and the situation in the former Ukraine. The interview with Dejan had more than 25,000 views and many supportive comments in 24 hours, but the video service administration restricted access to it.
Transnational Social Media Activity & Propaganda/Narratives
The big news in October for Russian nationalists was the triumphant return of Novorossiya leader Igor Strelkov (Girkin) to the front. He himself wrote about it in his Telegram channel on October 18. Strelkov’s status and rank were not disclosed. On 16 October, Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence set a reward of $100,000 for capturing Strelkov and handing him over.
The far-right Local Crew has published a whole series of cynical multimedia pieces on the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
Transnational Political and Financial Cooperation
In October, the efforts of the far-right were focused on the purchase of missing equipment for Russian soldiers and sponsored units. The far-right war correspondent Gleb Ervier alone managed in one month to raise over a million roubles (over 16 thousand euros) and buy four UAVs, over a dozen radios, counters for jet and barrel artillery, and other minor items.