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Ukraine lacks the drone capacity to strike enough targets in Russia to erode its ‘will to fight,’ retired US colonel says

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Ukrainian soldiers launch a drone at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022.

Associated Press

Ukraine lacks the drone capacity to conduct significant strikes in Russia, a war analyst says.
Recent months have seen a spate of drone attacks in occupied Crimea and Moscow.
Ukraine can only use its own drones because of restrictions on using NATO weapons on Russian territory.

Ukraine does not have the drone capacity to strike enough targets in Russia to tip the war in their favor, war analysts told The Washington Post.

Recent months have seen a spate of drone attacks in occupied Crimea and Moscow. Indeed, a reported Ukrainian drone strike Friday caused Moscow to shut down all four of its major airports, CNN reports.

But analysts told the Post that while these attacks might distract from Ukraine’s slow-moving ground counteroffensive, they are unlikely to make much of a difference in the conflict.

“The Ukrainians just don’t have enough capacity to build enough drones and strike deep inside Russian territory at enough targets to erode Russia’s will to fight,” Bob Hamilton, a retired US Army colonel and head of research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Eurasia Program, told The Post.

Ukraine can only use its own drones to strike inside Russia because of restrictions on using NATO weapons on Russian territory.

Russia has also significantly improved its electronic warfare capabilities during the conflict, which has allowed them to detect and more effectively combat Ukrainian drones by jamming or downing them.

While Kyiv has taken responsibility for some attacks on Russian targets in Crimea and the Black Sea, the government has been more vague about the ones on Russian territory.

A general view of a damaged office block of the Moscow International Business Center after Ukrainian drones attacks in Moscow, Russia on July 30, 2023.

Boris Alekseev/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Yuriy Sak, an advisor to Ukraine’s minister of defense, said that the drones were used to expand its military’s reach while it waited for greater air power from its allies.

“We don’t have the F-16s yet, so we have to find a way to make up for their absence, and drones are somewhat used to compensate for the lack of aviation,” he said, per The Post.

Ukraine is also reported to be using long-range weapons to strike targets in Russia in an ongoing effort to take the war to the doorstep of ordinary Russian civilians.

The United States and other allies have provided Kyiv with weapons while requiring assurances that they would not be used to strike Russian territory, according to Kelly Grieco, who researches air power operations as a senior fellow at the Stimson Center.

“From the start of this war, one of the things Ukraine’s allies have been concerned about is ending up in some inadvertent escalation,”  she told The Post.

Ukraine continues to request more advanced weaponry, including F-16 fighter jets and ATACMS, the Army Tactical Missile System, from the US.

If Ukraine expands the use of drones, “that still has the potential to make the West anxious about whether Ukraine will continue to exercise that kind of restraint,” she said

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Ukrainian soldiers launch a drone at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022.

Associated Press

Ukraine lacks the drone capacity to conduct significant strikes in Russia, a war analyst says.
Recent months have seen a spate of drone attacks in occupied Crimea and Moscow.
Ukraine can only use its own drones because of restrictions on using NATO weapons on Russian territory.

Ukraine does not have the drone capacity to strike enough targets in Russia to tip the war in their favor, war analysts told The Washington Post.

Recent months have seen a spate of drone attacks in occupied Crimea and Moscow. Indeed, a reported Ukrainian drone strike Friday caused Moscow to shut down all four of its major airports, CNN reports.

But analysts told the Post that while these attacks might distract from Ukraine’s slow-moving ground counteroffensive, they are unlikely to make much of a difference in the conflict.

“The Ukrainians just don’t have enough capacity to build enough drones and strike deep inside Russian territory at enough targets to erode Russia’s will to fight,” Bob Hamilton, a retired US Army colonel and head of research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Eurasia Program, told The Post.

Ukraine can only use its own drones to strike inside Russia because of restrictions on using NATO weapons on Russian territory.

Russia has also significantly improved its electronic warfare capabilities during the conflict, which has allowed them to detect and more effectively combat Ukrainian drones by jamming or downing them.

While Kyiv has taken responsibility for some attacks on Russian targets in Crimea and the Black Sea, the government has been more vague about the ones on Russian territory.

A general view of a damaged office block of the Moscow International Business Center after Ukrainian drones attacks in Moscow, Russia on July 30, 2023.

Boris Alekseev/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Yuriy Sak, an advisor to Ukraine’s minister of defense, said that the drones were used to expand its military’s reach while it waited for greater air power from its allies.

“We don’t have the F-16s yet, so we have to find a way to make up for their absence, and drones are somewhat used to compensate for the lack of aviation,” he said, per The Post.

Ukraine is also reported to be using long-range weapons to strike targets in Russia in an ongoing effort to take the war to the doorstep of ordinary Russian civilians.

The United States and other allies have provided Kyiv with weapons while requiring assurances that they would not be used to strike Russian territory, according to Kelly Grieco, who researches air power operations as a senior fellow at the Stimson Center.

“From the start of this war, one of the things Ukraine’s allies have been concerned about is ending up in some inadvertent escalation,”  she told The Post.

Ukraine continues to request more advanced weaponry, including F-16 fighter jets and ATACMS, the Army Tactical Missile System, from the US.

If Ukraine expands the use of drones, “that still has the potential to make the West anxious about whether Ukraine will continue to exercise that kind of restraint,” she said

Read the original article on Business Insider
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