Iranian drones first began to appear in the skies above Ukraine a little over a week ago.
According to Andriana Arekhta, a junior sergeant in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the drones came from Crimea and were meant to attack her special forces unit, which was fighting near the city of Kherson in the south. Bombs were dropped on the soldiers’ position by the drones after they evaded their defences and destroyed two tanks with their crews inside. (Iranian drones pose a new threat)
Arekhta, who travelled to Washington, D.C., last week as part of a delegation of female Ukrainian soldiers, stated, “It’s very difficult to see these drones on radars.”It is a significant issue.
Russia has deployed a greater number of Iran-imported Shahid and Mohajer combat drones throughout Ukraine in the last week, resulting in devastating outcomes. Some struck civilian infrastructure, including the port city of Odesa, while others struck combat positions, destroying armoured vehicles and tanks.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, stated in his Friday night address that more than a dozen drones had been shot down by anti-aircraft forces in Odesa and the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region. They were identified by the Ukrainian Air Force as munitions-carrying Mohajer-6 drones and Shahid-136 kamikaze drones, respectively. (Iranian drones pose a new threat)
However, an activist from Ukraine and three soldiers have stated in interviews that the Iranian drones pose a significant threat to both fighters and civilians. They stated that Kyiv is attempting to seize on recent gains to retake as much territory as possible before winter sets in, and their arrival on the battlefield makes the need for the West to send additional modern weaponry even more pressing.
The Russians may be set for a major shift by the Iranian drones. They fly at a low altitude and are relatively small, avoiding Ukrainian radars. Rekhta stated that she could use Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to eliminate them, but only during the day because the American-provided weapons lack a night-vision system.
According to the visiting group, Ukraine needs modern air defences like the Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar systems that the United States used in Afghanistan and 360-degree radar to deal with the new threat.
Arekhta stated, “I need to be in position against Russian helicopters on one side and Iranian drones on the other side.”With other weapons that can hit these drones, it’s hard to close off the vast area with Stingers. (Iranian drones pose a new threat)
She stated that Arekhta uses Washington’s Switchblade 300 drones, which are essentially commercial systems that are ineffective against armoured vehicles and artillery. Upgraded Switchblade 600 drones, which she referred to as “a flying Javelin,” are needed in Ukraine.
The 600 version will likely not arrive for many months, despite Washington’s contract with AeroVironment.
The Russians are currently being fought by Ukrainian forces on two fronts: advancing south from Kherson and eastward from the Oskil River into the contested Donbas region. Gains have slowed significantly since an initial breakthrough at the beginning of the month, when Kyiv retook much of the Russian-occupied Kharkiv region. In the encircled Donbas, where the two sides have been essentially at a standstill since 2014, Ukrainian troops are currently making inroads.
Ivanna Chobaniuk, a medic who was serving near Kharkiv before travelling to D.C. last week, stated that the battle in the Donetsk oblast is now more difficult because Russian forces are fighting from trenches and shelters built years ago.
According to Chobaniuk, Ukrainian soldiers are attempting to retake ground in the northeast using civilian Toyotas and other vehicles that are particularly susceptible to drone attacks because their previous armoured vehicles were destroyed.
Arekhta stated that the outdated Soviet-era tanks Kyiv operates have numerous issues. When using the aiming system, the soldiers frequently receive error messages. Additionally, there is no fire protection system, so if they are hit, they must use a small fire extinguisher on the outside of the tank. Aretha must use her cell phone to communicate because the tanks cannot connect to the soldiers’ Western-provided radios. She stated, “Soviet tank doesn’t work at all” during the winter.
According to the soldiers, in order for Ukraine’s forces to advance in the face of heavy Russian artillery, Kyiv needs modern tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and Humvees.
Daria Kaleniuk, the CEO of the Ukrainian non-profit Anti-Corruption Action Center, stated, “It is now when we have momentum .”It is very inconvenient for us to keep counterattacking in civilian cars and Toyotas, especially when Iranian drones are flying overhead.
According to the soldiers, Kyiv is attempting to reclaim as much territory as possible before winter sets in. However, they now face a new challenge: Vladimir Putin has mobilized 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine in response to their counteroffensive.
According to Ukrainian soldiers, Russia will use the colder months, when fighting typically slows, to train and equip the soldiers Putin has called up, despite questions about their quality.
Daria Zubenko, a senior sergeant who has also worked as a paramedic and sniper, stated, “If we give them that time, in spring there will be an epic battle — another epic battle.”
Kaleniuk said that Ukraine could use the winter to train its troops on more advanced weapons that the West hasn’t yet approved, like modern battle tanks and fighter jets. She stated that the Ukrainian Air Force has identified a few dozen pilots who speak English and are prepared to begin training immediately after the Ukrainian Armed Forces submitted an official request for either new or used fighter jets two weeks ago.
However, for the time being, modern tanks and jets may merely be a pipe dream. Top generals stated that the F-16 fighter jets would not arrive until years after any political decision was made to donate them, despite the fact that officials at the Pentagon have left the possibility of delivering the aircraft to Kyiv open.
Arekhta stated, “I’m really fed up with losing my friends. “When I just say “happy birthday” on Facebook or other social media, I sometimes get the response: He is no more.’