Ukraine: Drones fly directly over Kyiv
Russia is continuing to target Ukraine with Iranian-built drones in a clear indication that Vladimir Putin is running low on weaponry, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said. And one military analyst has predicted Moscow’s haphazard use of the Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was not only “fairly ineffective” but would also serve to harden Western resolve and result in the supply of more military equipment to Ukrainian forces.
A tweeted MoD statement said Russia was probably using UAVs to infiltrate Ukrainian air defences and as a substitute for Russian-manufactured long-range precision weapons which are becoming increasingly scarce.
Ukrainian efforts to contain the UAVs have been successful, the ministry added.
They tweeted: “Russia continues to use Iranian uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) against targets throughout Ukraine. Ukrainian efforts to defeat the Shahed-136 UAVs are increasingly successful. Official sources, including President Zelenskyy, claiming that up to 85 percent of attacks are being intercepted.
“These UAVs are slow, noisy and fly at low altitudes, making lone aircraft easy to target conventional air defences.
“Russia is likely expending a high number of Iranian Shahed-136 UAVs in order to penetrate increasingly effective Ukrainian air defences.
Ukraine: Russia is continuing to launch Iranian-built drones, said the MoD
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President
“It is likely using them as a substitute for Russian-manufactured long-range precision weapons which are becoming increasingly scarce.”
The United States last week said Iranian military trainers were in Crimea helping Russian forces operate the drones.
But Sam Cranny-Evans, a research fellow at UK-based think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told Express.co.uk that so far at least, they were doing so with limited success.
He explained: “The way they are being used is fairly ineffective. They are causing terror to be sure, as it is hard to predict their flight path and they can be sent from a long distance.
“They can also be flown in waves, which is hard even for good air defence.”
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Ukraine: A drone over Kyiv last week
However, Mr Cranny-Evans emphasised: “Strategically, their use, along with cruise missiles against cities again, has hardened western attitudes and led to more equipment pledges, which won’t help Russia.
“My current assumption is that the Russian command and control is not good enough to enable the use of these drones on the front line where they might actually help. But that could be wrong, and it could change.”
Describing the way in which the drones work, he explained: “They’re slow, and loud, which means that they can theoretically be intercepted with more ease than cruise missiles, and they use quite simple civilian electronics.
“But honestly, the efficacy of any weapon is based on how it’s used. The most advanced cruise missile in the world is wasted if the targeting data is off or old.”
Mr Evans suggested Russia’s command and control structure – in other words, the system in place to select and hit targets – was hampering its efforts.
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Ukraine: A casualty is carried by rescue workers after a drone strike in Kyiv
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He said: “The system starts with identifying the target, making sure it’s the right target – this information needs to be kept current.
“Then, the right weapon needs to be selected for that target, brought to a suitable area and launched.”
Once launched, the drone needed to be directed to the target and then in the final stages, the complexity of the weapon shaped how effective it is in engaging, he continued.
Mr Evans added: “So, with Russia, it’s not clear that a lot of those first stages are involved in the launch of the Shahed-136, they often seem to be simply flown to Kyiv using pre-programmed routes before crashing into whatever they were programmed to attack.”
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Speaking to Express.co.uk last Monday, former US marine John Sennett, who lives in Kyiv with Belarusian wife Natasha, described hearing several drones, including one which crashed into a nearby building killing at least four people including a pregnant woman.
Mr Sennett, 57, said: “At I guess about 6.30, 6.45 this morning we heard this buzzing noise and then literally maybe three minutes later a huge explosion.
“And so we ran in ran into the hallway and we heard another buzzing noise and then another explosion, probably 700 metres from where we live, I’m guessing about that.
“They sound like a little motor scooter, like a moped, like the older ones that are a little bit louder.
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“One went literally went right over our place – you hear them going and then you hear the explosion.”
Ukraine’s advances in recent weeks around Kherson and in the country’s northeast have been met with intensifying Russian missile and drone attacks on civilian infrastructure, which have destroyed about 40 percent of Ukraine’s power system ahead of winter.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s General Staff said anti-aircraft defences had shot down 12 of Russia’s Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones in the past 24 hours.
Tehran denies supplying the weapons to Russia.