Communication failures complicate Russia on the battlefield in Ukraine

According to experts, the unsecured communication on the battlefield poses many difficulties for the Russian armed forces in combat.

After nearly three months of opening a special military operation in Ukraine, the Russian military has uncovered a number of limitations, the most serious of which, according to observers, is the inability to maintain reliable and confidential communications between armed forces on the battlefield.

Ukrainian intelligence has repeatedly stated that it intercepted communications between Russian units during the fighting, even exchanges between the commander in the field and his superiors in Russia.

Russian special forces stationed in the city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine on April 12.  Photo: AFP.

Russian special forces stationed in the city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine on April 12. Picture: AFP.

Stavros Atlamazoglou, a Greek military special operations expert, says there are several reasons for this. The first is that Ukraine has impressive electronic warfare capabilities and is actively fed by the United States with real-time intelligence of unprecedented levels. This can help Ukraine decide when and where to block enemy communications.

Another reason is that the Russian military’s ability to secure communications is limited by Western sanctions. Ukrainian forces have discovered civilian radios or mobile phones used by Russian soldiers during the war.

“It appears that information on Russia’s actual military capabilities is outdated or inaccurate, possibly because the US and its allies do not have practical access to the weapon systems that Russian forces deployed before the conflict,” said Herm Hasken, a former Cryptologist with US Special Task Force.

However, he believes that will change once Ukraine has received plenty of intact Russian weapons and equipment on the battlefield. They can be sent by rail from Ukraine to European countries for the US and its allies to analyze and investigate further.

It seems that the Russian military has not yet mastered the issue of operational safety. Russian soldiers have violated security regulations by acting on social networks, for example by taking photos of battlefields or posting information about military activities. This allows the enemy to locate the unit through open source data and thus plan countermeasures.

Poor coordination among Russian armed forces also creates other communication challenges.

Invading the Kharkov region of north-eastern Ukraine, Russian infantry destroyed mobile broadcasting stations (BTS) in the region. However, this action made it impossible for Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers to use Era-encrypted phones, which required a 3G or 4G data connection to operate.

During the intercepted call, an FSB leader complained to a military officer on the ground that the Era system could not function to conduct confidential communications.

The military situation in Ukraine after 11 weeks of fighting.  Graphic: Washington Post.

The war situation in Ukraine after almost three months of fighting. Graphic: Washington Post.

Some Russian units use scrambling equipment, but many combat units still use unsecured radio frequency radios. Equipment incompatibility forces units with modern equipment to communicate with older systems, negating their own advantages.

“This is a situation where the Russian military is equipped with a security phone but cannot use it in the very area that Russian forces control,” commented Christo Grozev, chief executive of the Bellingcat research organization based in Bellingcat, UK .

you son (Corresponding Business Insider)