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Russia extreme concerns about use of UAVs by Ukrainian Armed Forces

Russia extreme concerns about use of UAVs by Ukrainian Armed Forces Ukrainian drone attacks are recognized as the biggest problem for the Russian army (photo: Getty Images)

In Russia, concerns are growing over the significant advantage of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles on the front lines. A recent failed assault on a Russian armored column in the Donetsk region is cited as an example, highlighting the inability of Russian occupiers to withstand the strikes from Ukrainian drones, according to a report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Recently, several Russian military bloggers have focused their attention on the recent failed attack by Russians near the village of Novomykhailivka in the Donetsk region. Discrepancies in the assessments of these bloggers indicate significant challenges in the ability of Russian military forces to adapt to the battlefield in Ukraine.

Presumably, they are referring to the repulsion of an assault by a rotor-wing formation of strike UAVs from the 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade and other units against an enemy convoy consisting of 11 armored vehicles.

On February 3, a Russian military blogger stated that true patriots had reacted to the footage of the failed January 30 assault with criticism and disappointment.

He criticized traitors and sellouts, including experts who often appear on the television show hosted by Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov. These experts responded to the footage of the defeat with false claims that Russian forces have a sufficient number of electronic warfare (EW) systems and radio stations to counter Ukrainian drones with bird's-eye observation capabilities.

"The milblogger, citing personal conversations with frontline Russian personnel, claimed that such propagandists’ claims are not true and that Russian frontline commanders consider donated radio stations more valuable than state-provided tanks and infantry fighting vehicles due to radio equipment shortages," the report stated.

Several military bloggers, as ISW continues, lamented that the Russian military command is unlikely to be concerned about the use of Ukrainian drones and warnings from experts about the deadly danger to occupation forces. Bloggers warned that many Russian military personnel would perish due to the superiority of Ukrainian drones on the front lines, labeling it one of Russia's biggest problems at the moment.

"Russian milbloggers’ willingness to continually fixate on this particular event is notable, as the milbloggers’ concern over Russian forces’ failure to adapt is apparently greater than their concern for their safety given the arrests of several critical information space voices and milbloggers in 2023," the ISW report notes.

Achilles' heel of the Russian army

Moscow Duma Deputy Andrey Medvedev praised the comment made by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on February 2, acknowledging that drones are the Achilles' heel of the Russian military. According to Medvedev, Putin's comment demonstrates his awareness of the situation on the front lines and his understanding of modern warfare.

Medvedev argued that Putin's recognition of the advantage of Ukrainian drones proves that he is not afraid to discuss problems and mistakes of Russia and does not believe that constructive criticism of Russian operations in Ukraine is wrong and detrimental to Russia's victory.

Several Russian military bloggers used the discussion around the video of the failed Russian assault in Novomykhailivka on January 30 to emphasize that Russian sources should not censor constructive criticism of the Russian military.

ISW continues to state that Putin's statement on February 2 seems to support the arguments of military bloggers against self-censorship.

" Putin has previously signaled his sensitivity to concern about Russian operations in Ukraine among Russian milbloggers, including during his Direct Line forum on December 14 when Putin singled out the tactical and operational situation in Krynky in the east bank of Kherson region, an area of the front that Russian milbloggers have previously fixated on. Putin’s statement suggests that there may be concern within the Russian military and political leadership about the Russian military’s ability to adapt and restore maneuver to the battlefield," the ISW report states.

Production of FPV drones in Ukraine

Minister of Defense Rustem Umerow has announced that in 2024, Ukraine plans to produce hundreds of thousands of drones of various types.

Major General of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Dmytro Marchenko, noted that it is impossible to fully replace artillery with drones, as artillery performs tasks that FPV drones cannot handle.

Former head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, previously stated that the front line in the western part of Zaporizhzhia region buzzes like a beehive due to the large number of Ukrainian drones, which are effectively targeting and impacting objectives, complicating the rotation of Russian personnel.