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Russia modernizing air defense systems due to Ukrainian drone strikes - ISW

Russia modernizing air defense systems due to Ukrainian drone strikes - ISW Photo: Russia is finalizing air defense systems after devastating strikes by Ukrainian drones (rus media)

The Russian Federation is retrofitting elements of its deep rear air defense system due to regular attacks by Ukrainian drones. In recent days, some regions have experienced disruptions in 4G communication, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

It is reported that the Ministry of Digital Development of the Russian Federation has instructed local authorities in the Leningrad, Novgorod, and Pskov regions to block 4G LTE internet connectivity by January 30. This measure is intended to allow Russian officials to "fine-tune" drone countermeasures and air defense systems.

From January 25 to January 30, these three regions had previously announced disruptions in 4G LTE internet services due to technical adjustments to the "radio frequency spectrum."

"One of Kommersant’s sources stated that Voronezh region is conducting similar efforts that have been 'planned at the federal level' and that many other unspecified Russian federal subjects are pursuing these efforts at different paces," the report states.

The ISW report reminded that Russian electronic warfare (EW) systems and mobile internet providers operate on frequencies permitted by the State Commission on Radio Frequencies of Russia (GKRCH). A source from Kommersant stated that indiscriminate use of EW could create obstacles to mobile communication.

Currently, it is unclear what impact internet operations may have on the reorientation of EW systems or the deployment of new forces and assets, and vice versa.

The Institute for the Study of War does not rule out the possibility that Russian forces may be testing new EW tools and preemptively disabling internet services to avoid sudden disruptions. Officials may also restrict internet access to conceal the movement of conventional air defense systems in Russia following the strikes by Ukrainian drones in the Leningrad region on January 18 and January 21.

"Russian officials may also be limiting access to the internet to conceal the movement of conventional air defense systems within Russia after Ukrainian drone strikes in the Leningrad region on January 18 and January 21 suggested that Russian air defenses in northwestern Russia may be ill-deployed to defend against drones launched from Ukraine," notes ISW.

The report also mentions that on January 29, the governor of the Yaroslavl region, Mikhail Yevraev, stated that Russian EW systems had shot down a Ukrainian drone targeting the Slavneft-YANOS oil refinery in the Yaroslavl region. Russian sources enlarged images of the downed drone at the refinery and concluded that it did not cause any damage.

Attacks by drones on the territory of Russia

Over the past weeks, a series of drone attacks have been recorded in various regions of the Russian Federation targeting oil depots and infrastructure.

On January 19, a powerful fire broke out at an oil depot in Klintsy, Bryansk region. The Russian Ministry of Defense reported a drone attack.

On the evening of January 20, explosions were heard in the city of Tula. Video footage captured a fire at one of the infrastructure facilities.

During the night of January 21, a drone attacked the Ust-Luga Oil oil terminal in the Leningrad region. The facility processes fuel, including that supplied to the Russian military. According to sources cited by RBC-Ukraine, this was a special operation by the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU).

On January 25, the SSU announced a drone attack on an oil depot in the city of Tuapse. A fire broke out at the site of the attack, covering an area of 200 square meters.