“While Ukraine once had the edge in drone superiority, Russia has begun to catch up, producing more sophisticated and numerous drones, as well as ramping up its electronic warfare systems, which defend against Ukraine’s attacks.
Even though they frequently operate from behind the frontlines, the drone controllers often leave an electronic trace if they aren’t careful, which allows the enemy to pinpoint and follow them, The Economist reported this week.
“A lot of people want to become drone pilots because they think the work is further back and safer,” one front-line commander told the outlet. “The reality is that it’s extremely dangerous to be flying battlefield drones.”
“Hummer,” a commander in Ukraine’s 47th brigade operating along the Zaporizhia front, told The Economist the Russians fire with everything they’ve got as soon as they identify a target.
Russia has employed similar strike drones in Ukraine, but also uses high-precision artillery, mines, and glide bombs to take out the enemy, the outlet reported.
Ukraine has had to rely primarily on volunteers and donations to control and supply its drone stock while Russia has easier access to more expensive reconnaissance drones, allowing the country to increasingly attack Ukrainian positions near the front lines in recent months.
The Economist reported that Russian FPV drones have destroyed multiple Bradley Fighting Vehicles and even a Leopard tank. An infantryman fighting between Robotyne and Verbove told the outlet that Ukrainian losses have significantly increased in part, because of Russia’s use of drones.
In addition to making drone pilots sought-after targets, the war’s reliance on drone warfare has also forced both sides to adapt in real time; equipment that can detect and defend against electronic warfare has become a necessity on the battlefield.
“If your cover is poor, then you are likely a dead man,” a drone pilot operating in the Zaporizhia province, told The Economist. “God, not physics, decides if you survive.””
““Now we’re fighting a conventional Russian army, but before Bakhmut fell, the Wagner group was in the area, and they had a particularly terrible approach to this. The group sent forward unarmed men, mostly prisoners, with ammunition for the next group who were experienced mercenaries. They thus used the prisoners as a meat transport machine for ammunition and equipment,” says Mathew, a medic with Ukraine’s Third Assault Brigade. He took The Daily Beast in his ambulance to watch them picking up soldiers like ‘Cossack’ from the front line and delivering them to hospitals for emergency treatment. This approach, they say, was uncomfortably effective. “They had no fear” he says, because the consequences of retreat were “certain death”
Michael Kofman of the Center for Naval Analysis told The Daily Beast: “Wagner troops were better motivated, but in the Stalinist tradition that in Wagner it took more courage to retreat than to attack”—knowing they would be shot at any sign of retreat. He notes that they also had “a significant artillery advantage provided by the Russian military (hence Prigozhin’s endless arguments for more munitions), having their flanks secured by the Russian airborne, and a large supply of expendable fighters from the Russian prison system,” all of which are lacked by the current Russian forces. He also points out that “Wagner had not been used, or set up, as a defensive force in this war and so it is unclear how they would have performed on the defense around Bakhmut’s flanks.”
Since Wagner vanished, Matthew says the quality of the Russian soldiers has declined and the men are more likely to flee or let their lines break under pressure. “The ones we meet don’t even pick up their dead,” he said.”
““The counteroffensive is going well,” he says, but what he fears most is a longer war. “Everyone who wanted to fight signed up long ago,” he says from a café in the city of Slovyansk. “If the Russians wanted to, they have millions of men they can mobilize. We are at our total limit.””
“The Iran-backed group has lost 47 fighters to Israeli strikes at Lebanon’s frontier since its Palestinian ally Hamas and Israel went to war on Oct. 7 – about a fifth of the number killed in a full-scale war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.
With most of its fighters killed in Israeli drone strikes, Hezbollah has unveiled its surface-to-air missile capability for the first time, declaring on Sunday it downed an Israeli drone. The missiles are part of an increasingly potent arsenal.
The Israeli military has not commented on Sunday’s reported drone incident. But Israel said on Saturday it had stopped a surface-to-air missile fired from Lebanon at one of its drones and that it responded by striking the launch site.
One of the sources familiar with Hezbollah’s thinking told Reuters that the use of anti-aircraft missiles was one of several steps taken by the Shi’ite Muslim group to curb its losses and counter Israeli drones, which have picked off its fighters in the rocky terrain and olive groves along the border.
Hezbollah had made “arrangements to reduce the number of martyrs”, the source said, without offering further details.”
“Europe should take in the one million people trying to flee Gaza if it cares “about human rights so much”, a senior Egyptian official reportedly told a European counterpart.
“You want us to take one million people? Well, I am going to send them to Europe. You care about human rights so much – well, you take them,” the unidentified official said.
The rebuke, first reported by the Financial Times, came as media reports suggested that the Egyptian government was categorically refusing to accept the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in northern Sinai.
To avoid a mass exodus from the Gaza Strip into Egypt, the Egyptian army has begun setting up new positions close to the border, reinforcing the wall with barbed wire, expanding patrols in the area, and installing a concrete wall at the Rafah crossing with Gaza.”
“two Swedish fans were shot dead. The alleged gunman, named as Abdesalem Lassoued, posted two videos online, in which he claimed to be a “fighter for Allah” and that he was a supporter of Islamic State.
Here the script is depressingly familiar. Reports in the English and Belgian media state the gunman was Tunisian, had been in the country since 2016, and was “known to the police”. His asylum application had been rejected in 2020, but a request to leave Belgium had not been enacted as Lassoued had moved house. A subsequent arrest for making threats on social media was working its way through the Belgian legal system.
It would be easy to blame some of these problems on Belgium itself. Districts of Brussels have long been allowed to opt out from the rule of law, and the nation’s multiple police forces are hardly a by-word for competence. But the situation is little better elsewhere. On Friday, France witnessed its second murder of a school teacher by an Islamist. Here the suspect was again ‘known to the police’ as an alleged extremist and has a brother in prison for terrorist offences.
Britain is no better. In November 2021, an asylum seeker in Liverpool died while attempting to blow up the city’s women’s hospital. Emad Al-Swealmeen had originally entered Britain on a tourist visa, claiming he wanted to see Britain’s Got Talent be recorded in Belfast. Al-Swealmeen was still in the UK six years after his asylum claim was rejected.
Huge numbers of primarily young men, have crossed Europe’s leaky borders since 2015. Research for Policy Exchange earlier this year found 83% of those crossing the channel on small boats in 2022, were male. We know next to nothing about who they are or what they believe. In many cases they move to communities where levels of integration is already poor, and extremist ideals have currency.”
“The airfields that have reportedly been targeted are deep behind the front-line, supposedly safe from attack. But the ATACMS system can strike targets with pinpoint accuracy at a range of up to 300kms. Not so safe after all.
We’ve already seen the havoc wreaked by the British Storm Shadow precision missile. Its range of 180kms has made the Black Sea fleet all but irrelevant, as it has had to scuttle back to ports deep in Russia. ATACMS now means that Russia will have to move its key air assets far back from the front lines. Its attack helicopters, which have done so much damage to the Ukrainian armoured forces, may now be out of range entirely.
Likewise, command posts will have to move so far back from the front-lines that they may become entirely ineffective in controlling the close battle. If the untrained, poorly armed and underfed conscripts in the trenches felt isolated before, their leaders will now be so far away that – to use the British army adage for absent commanders – they will have to send their washing forward.
Soldiers without leaders are rabbles, and these Russian rabbles don’t even want to fight. Without their leaders forcing them at gun point, they may not – particularly if they don’t have air cover and artillery support.
It won’t just be helicopters and jets receiving gifts this Christmas courtesy of ATACMS. Russian artillery and its precision guided missile systems may all now be in range. If the flow of battlefield intelligence from the US, UK and Nato continues, we can expect a long string of successful attacks on high value Russian targets.
This won’t just be a morale boost for the Ukrainian military. It could well take the brakes off the counter-offensive. If the Ukrainian tanks don’t have to worry about attacks from the air, they can push on with greater urgency, break through the remaining Russian lines, and steam into Crimea.”