21 March 2023, Tuesday, 16:45
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World Media About Drone Attacks: Ukraine Changes Geographies Of War

World Media About Drone Attacks: Ukraine Changes Geographies Of War

Has Ukraine managed to develop a new strike drone?

The world media are analyzing the series of strikes on Russian airfields in the deep rear of the Russian Federation. According to international observers, if Ukraine really carried them out, then it again managed to surprise the world and ensure a new argument in the conflict with Russia.

The NV has made excerpts from recent news from Western news publishers and briefly recalls what incidents are being discussed.

Attacks in the deep rear of the Russian Federation: what happened

On December 5-6, air bases were targeted in several regions of Russia. The bases have long been used for massive missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure. The attacks were likely carried out by drones, although many of the targets are hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian border. On the evening of December 5, the Russian MoD reported that three Russian soldiers were killed as a result of the strikes and probably downplayed the damage to military equipment (stating "minor damage to aircraft coverings" of several Russian aircraft).

The incidents are:

December 5:

an explosion at the Dyagilevo military airfield in the Ryazan region of the Russian Federation, about 500 km from the border with Ukraine: a tanker next to an aircraft was targeted, three people were killed, six more were injured (the Russian Federation did not officially report damage to military equipment, but on the evening of December 5 a photo from the Dyagilevo air base showing a damaged Tu-22M3 missile-carrying bomber with a Kh-22 missile on a sling, probably intended for new attacks on Ukraine);

drone strike on the runway of the Engels-2 airbase in the Saratov region of the Russian Federation, about 700 km from the border with Ukraine: at least two Tu-95 strategic bombers were damaged, the Russian Federation launched missiles against Ukraine with the aircraft.

December 6:

an UAV strike on an airfield in the Russian city of Kursk: a large fire broke out, as a result of the strike, an oil storage tank caught fire;

a probable drone attack on fuel tanks in the Bryansk region, 80 km from the border with Ukraine: reports read two drones exploded a few meters from five-ton diesel fuel tanks on the territory of the Slava plant.

Ukraine comments on the attacks:

“We haven't started anything yet despite the enemy's desire. This is how these cases can be described. They need to scratch their heads, to think, how and who did it, how did it happen? They need to find the guilty. Maybe it will take some time. An alarming signal for them,” said Yuriy Ihnat, the speaker for the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“The earth is round. This was discovered by Galileo. It is a pity that astronomy was not studied in the Kremlin, preferring court astrologers. Then they would know: if you launch something into the airspace of other countries very often, sooner or later unknown aircraft will return to the place of departure,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, Advisor to the Head of the President’s Office.

“So it was at the airport in Dzhankoy, the same happened to them in the seaports with vessels. The same thing happened there. It's just that 'Bavovnyatko' plays as soon as it sees that someone is violating the rules of smoking,” said Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

Is the new UkrOboronProm's UAV operational? World media about the attacks

The Guardian writes that strikes on air bases deep behind Russian borders "underscore Ukraine's tactical ingenuity." “It looks like Ukraine has found a way to attack Russian long-haul Tu-95 and Tu-22M aircraft that are on the runways. Since October, the Kremlin has been using these strategic bombers to gradually destroy Ukraine's energy infrastructure, leaving millions without heat and electricity in anticipation of winter," the news publisher recalls.

There is a suggestion that Ukraine has managed to develop an attack drone with an astonishing range of 1,000 km, according to one version indicated by The Guardian. “If this is true, it means that most of the European part of Russia is now within reach [for the Armed Forces]. And that the asymmetric advantage that Moscow enjoyed this year, the ability to freely launch cruise missiles from deep inside Russia itself, is under threat,” says author Luke Harding, a journalist for The Guardian and author of a new book about the Russian war, "Invasion: The Inside Story of Russia's Bloody War and Ukraine's Fight for Survival".

“We attack where they are weak and defend where they are strong,” former Ukrainian Defence Minister Andriy Zagorodniuk said.

“Kyiv continues to amaze,” The Guardian writes, recalling how Ukraine took Russia by surprise in late October when it launched an early morning strike on the Sevastopol seaport in Crimea, where the Russian occupying Black Sea Fleet is based. It was then reported that several Russian frigates were disabled, including the flagship Admiral Makarov, and Ukraine could use the original naval drone. Another example is a possible UAV air attack on the Saki air base in Crimea.

Citing Western officials, the British publication reports that Kyiv does not always tell its allies about plans for some risky military operations. The Western intelligence community believes that Ukraine deliberately avoids disclosing such attacks, fearing that the West may prevent them or try to talk them off from carrying out such strikes. Attacks deep inside Russia are especially sensitive subjects: the Biden Administration has previously said it fears direct military conflict with Russia and nuclear escalation.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine seem to be using their own technology to conduct special operations since the West is refusing to provide Ukraine with long-range munitions. Among them are the explosion on the Crimean Bridge and the destruction of the cruiser Moskva, attacked by Ukrainian anti-ship missiles Neptune. “Both cases were humiliating blows to the prestige of Russia. Further surprises can be expected,” concludes The Guardian.

“Ukraine changed the geographies of the war by launching drones at Russian air bases almost 500 km from its own territory," The New York Times writes. The publication calls these strikes on facilities "the most brazen attack on Russian territory in nine months of the war".

Citing sources in Ukraine and Russia, the NYT confirms that the drones were launched from Ukraine. "However, at least one of the strikes was carried out with the support of Ukrainian special forces, who were located near the air base, to help guide the UAV to the target. Details and the position of the special forces while the strike against the air base remain unknown," the NYT clarifies.

“The strikes testify to Ukraine's readiness to attack bases deep in the territory of the Russian Federation, and also demonstrated the AFU's ability to strike at such long distances. Shortly after the attacks on the airbases, Russia launched a barrage of missiles on Ukrainian cities,” the NYT writes. The publication also notes that the Ukrainian authorities adhere to the practice of “deliberate ambiguity” regarding attacks inside the Russian Federation and in Russian-occupied Crimea, not admitting involvement in them publicly, but publishing meaningful comments.

Separately, the NYT recalls that in October the Ukrainian state concern UkrOboronProm announced “the end of development” of a drone capable of carrying a 70–75 kg payload and flying up to 1,000 km. And on December 4, the Press Secretary of UkrOboronProm, Natalya Sad, announced the successful testing of this UAV. “We hope that we can test it in combat operation,” she said.

“Ukraine’s ability to strike deep into Russia has more than just military significance,” Max Bergmann, a former U.S. diplomat and Russia and European security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, was quoted by the NYT. Such strikes “also send a signal to Russia that continuing the war will lead to losses [for Moscow] and that it is not only Ukraine that is vulnerable to long-range drone and missile strikes, but also Russia,” explains Bergmann. “This is useful for Kyiv. After all, when (or if) the two countries one day do sit at the negotiating table, then the obligation to stop attacks on Russian territory is now a valuable 'perk' that Ukraine can use [in negotiations],” the expert says.

"Ukraine has previously demonstrated its ability to use drones in new and unexpected ways, as well as adapt old systems to perform new functions," recalls the NYT.

CNN writes that the bombings at Russian airbases have "drawn attention to Ukraine's efforts to develop long-range combat drones". Like other international media, the American TV channel talks about how, over the past few weeks, the state concern UkrOboronProm has indicated several times that it is close to finishing the development of a new drone model that can cover a distance of up to 1,000 km.

The Wall Street Journal emphasizes the self-sufficiency of the attack, which was probably carried out by Ukraine: "There is no evidence that weapons provided by the United States were used to deal the strikes". The WSJ, citing its own sources, confirms the information that the Pentagon modified the HIMARS MLRS so that Ukraine could not use them to launch long-range missiles. According to the publication, such a move "testifies how the Biden Administration was ready to act balancing its support for Ukrainian forces and the risk of escalation [relations] with Moscow".

“If Ukraine is really behind the explosions at Russian air bases, this will mean an increase in its ability to hit military targets deep in Russia compared to probable strikes in the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation near the border with Ukraine,” the WSJ notes.