The BBC examines how Ukraine is using drones to overcome the Russian advantage in numbers as it seeks ways to go on the offensive:
Ukrainian war: drone pilots mark the targets of a new offensive
Abdujalil Abdurasulov reports from somewhere in Ukraine where drone operators are preparing for an offensive around Kherson.
For weeks the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been talking about launching a counter-offensive in the south, and now a senior officer has told the BBC they intend to retake the city of Kherson within weeks. Instead of a major full-scale attack, they should adopt a different strategy, with a role for small drone units.
….Big guns make a big difference in this conflict.
“It’s a war of artillery, high-tech weapons and minds. The soldier still plays an important role but success mainly depends on rockets, artillery and air strikes,” the general said. of division Dmytro Marchenko, who successfully organized the defense of the south. city of Mykolaiv from the Russian attack last spring. It’s not like World War II, when one big army attacked another, he argues.
While Ukraine has secured ammunition that makes a huge difference, there is the problem of confronting Russian numbers in entrenched positions.
The precision weapons that Ukraine has acquired are making a critical difference. If they can locate a target, they can eliminate it – so the ability to locate targets makes this non-standard approach possible. Basically, it’s like a rapier against a broadsword – and the guy with the broadsword needs goggles.
They can use drone targeting information to find gun emplacement, resupply points, command posts, and more. and eliminate them. But it’s getting harder and harder as Russia finally seems to realize what’s going on and is trying to take countermeasures.
…But identifying such targets and guiding artillery strikes is dangerous work. Maverick and his colleagues are closely monitoring an attack on a Russian vehicle which they believe may jam Ukrainian communications signals.
After a dozen hits, the closest they can get is 15 m (50 ft) before Russian forces respond. The terrifying hiss of a Russian shell sends everyone rushing inside a hangar for safety. Missiles are raining down around us. Mounds of earth rise like a fountain when shells hit the ground.
By now the Russians will know that a drone team is directing artillery fire and they have started bombarding the area randomly.
The drones are still there and Maverick and his teammate are desperately trying to get them back.
“They activated the REB! Maverick shouts, warning of an immediate threat from Russia’s electronic signal jamming war system.
A vulnerability for drones is communication. Jam the signals they need for control and navigation, and they’re effectively neutralized.
The obvious countermeasure will be munitions capable of detecting jamming signals and moving towards emitters to eliminate them, but this will take time. (It’s analogous to HARM missiles that eliminate anti-aircraft targeting radars.) A corollary would be some kind of missile that focuses on signals from drone controllers and the drones themselves.
Sometimes an arms race is more like a deadly dance…
Meanwhile, Ukraine does not just rely on long-range weapons systems and drones to strike deep into Russian-held territory. They set up guerrilla teams to operate in areas Russia believed to be safe. Via Andrew E. Kramer at The NY Times:
ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine – They weave through dark alleys to plant explosives. They identify Russian targets for Ukrainian artillery and long-range rockets supplied by the United States. They blow up railroad tracks and assassinate officials they consider Russian collaborators.
Sliding back and forth on the front lines, guerrilla fighters are known in Ukraine as partisans, and in recent weeks they have played an increasingly important role in the war, shaking up Russian forces by helping to deliver humiliating blows in occupied areas they believed to be safe. .
Increasingly, Ukraine is leading the fight against Russian forces in Russian-controlled areas, whether with elite military units, such as the one credited with a huge explosion at a Russian ammunition depot on Tuesday. the occupied Crimean peninsula, or an underground guerrilla network.
Asymmetric warfare is a bitch.
Eric Frank Russell wrote a 1957 science fiction classic titled “Wasp”. A war between Terra and the Sirian Empire saw the Terran forces outnumbered, so the Wasp strategy was used to compensate.
A human who could pass as a Sirian was dropped onto an enemy planet with training and equipment to create as much disruption as possible. The idea was that a single individual could still attract enough official attention to significantly degrade the Sirians’ abilities and interfere with their war efforts. The Wasp was equipped with a variety of official IDs, fake identities, pysop tricks and special sabotage tools. The book offered a few scenarios to explain how the Wasp strategy works.
One was the story of a couple of escaped prisoners. They stole a car and lay loose for hours before being captured. They didn’t accomplish much – but for the duration of their freedom, they captured the attention of police forces, the media and the public in several states.
Another was a car accident. Although in full working order with four perfectly healthy humans on board, it suddenly spun out of control and crashed, killing everyone. The driver lingered long enough to explain what had happened: he had gotten distracted trying to deal with a wasp that had entered the car…
What happens in Ukraine is closely watched by the military around the world. Between drones, precision weapons systems and contrasting operational doctrines, there are huge implications for how the military will have to adjust their tactics and strategy to deal with what has now proven possible.
by Helene Cooper NY Times The report of estimated Russian casualties would seem to be a pretty clear indication that Russia miscalculated from the start – much like those who had assessed Russia’s threat potential and expected an easy victory.
“I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably had 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months,” Colin Kahl, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, told Pentagon reporters on Monday, saying reference to dead and injured.
“They have made some additional gains in the east, although not much in the last two weeks, but it has cost the Russian army extraordinarily expensive due to the performance of the Ukrainian army and all the help that the Ukrainian army brought. got.
Two US officials said Russia’s casualty estimate included around 20,000 dead. Of that number, 5,000 are believed to be mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a private force linked to Mr Putin, and foreign fighters, one of the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as she was not authorized to discuss sensitive military issues. assessments.
The question remains: what will end the conflict?
Ukraine can only sustain a limited number of losses and pressures on its economy, and must ask itself how much external support will come and for how long. From the Russian side, anything less than the total destruction of the Russian military seems unlikely to force Putin to call off the invasion and step down.
Oleg Kashin, a Russian journalist based in London is not optimistic.
… Instead, the serious threat to Mr. Putin’s strength today is the Ukrainian military. Only losses at the front have a realistic chance of bringing about a change in the political situation in Russia – as Russian history well attests. After the defeat in the Crimean War in the mid-19th century, Tsar Alexander II was forced to introduce sweeping reforms. The same thing happened when Russia lost a war with Japan in 1905, and perestroika in the Soviet Union was largely driven by the failed war in Afghanistan. If Ukraine manages to inflict heavy casualties on Russian forces, a similar process could unfold.
Yet, despite all the damage done so far, such a turnaround seems a long way off. For now and for the foreseeable future, it is Mr Putin – and the fear that without him things would be worse – who rules Russia.
Given the threat Russia appears to pose under Putin, enough to convince Sweden and Finland to join NATO, Ukraine appears to have a bloody future ahead of it – and the timeline is uncertain.
The wild card in the game is American politics. If the Republicans take either or both houses of Congress midway through, there will be real wildcards, perhaps until President Biden’s impeachment hearings, as well as all the other scandals that they can trigger. If they take over the White House, it’s not worth thinking about. This could seriously jeopardize the alliance that supports Ukraine.
That’s why Putin’s investment in Trump could be the long-term reward of all long plans, comparable to the German-chartered train ride that brought Lenin back to Russia in 1917.
Better if Ukraine manages to win as soon as possible.
How optimistic are you about Ukraine’s ability to keep pressure on Russia?
How optimistic are you about Ukraine’s ability to keep pressure on Russia?
Look better all the time.
Fingers crossed – still a lot of bad possibilities.