Earlier today, CBS News reported that a US official revealed US has intelligence confirming that Russian commanders have received orders to proceed with an invasion of Ukraine. Subunit commanders on the ground are now making plans for operations in their sectors of the battlefield. The process of orders going down the chain of command is similar to a telescope. The theater commander receives orders from Moscow explaining in detail the political and strategic objectives of the upcoming campaign. The theater commander’s battleplan is broad, encompassing the big picture. Orders then go out to division commanders who formulate ops plans for their respective operating areas. The process continues down the line to regiment, battalion commanders and so forth.
By itself, this report could be disregarded as inaccurate, or the result of intentional Russian disinformation. However, there have been some other developments today that indicate the Russians could very well be on the cusp of moving. Russia’s Aeronautical Information Center issued a NOTAM (a Notice to Airmen) Sunday which will close most of the airspace over the Sea of Azov starting at midnight between Sunday and Monday. There have also been numerous reports of Russian naval vessels entering the Sea of Azov throughout Sunday. Three amphibious assault ships were among the vessels heading north into the sea. Now, Russia has been running naval exercises in the Black Sea for over a week now and the initial NOTAMs and warnings to maritime traffic did indicate the Sea of Azov will be used for part of the exercise. Some restrictions were dropped earlier in the week, yet its possible that today’s notices are bringing them back into play.
Right now its after midnight in Ukraine. The NOTAM is active and all that can be done for the moment is to adopt a ‘wait and see’ posture between now and dawn. I’ll be posting another update later in the night.