Russia"s advice to troops dealing with exploding drones is to weld cages on any vehicles they can

Illustrations from Russia's defense ministry teach troops how to weld cages onto their tanks and vehicles to protect from exploding drones. Ukrainian soldiers work on the tank gun of a Leopard 1 A5 main battle tank.Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/picture alliance via Getty Images Russia is advising troops to weld cages onto their vehicles and tanks to protect from drone attacks. New illustrations show soldiers how to attach cages onto various vehicles.  Both Russia and Ukraine have previously employed cages, but the strategy now seems to be official Russian doctrine. Having issues protecting your tank from exploding drones? Russia's advice: Weld cages onto any and every vehicle. New illustrations released from Russia's Ministry of Defense detail that exact strategy to their troops, indicating how each vehicle should be covered with cages to protect from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Although both sides of the war have previously used crude cages to contend with drones, Russia is apparently resigning itself to these limited defenses for the foreseeable future in a sign of how dominant and dangerous attack drones have become. On Monday, illustrations from the ministry's main armored directorate were released, showing various methods for protecting equipment from first-person view (FPV) drones rigged with explosives and other UAV threats. In many cases, the ministry's official advice is to weld various shapes and sizes of cages to vehicles. Some illustrations show cages on top of tank turrets, while others show cages surrounding the sides, front, and back of vehicles.  —Samuel Bendett (@sambendett) November 20, 2023 The illustrations suggest how troops should array cages to maximize protection from exploding drones, such as constructing a barrier on top of a tank turret in such an angle that a drone can't find a way through the cage. These protective measures complicate a small drone's flight path, however, Ukraine has shown impressive skill at navigating its drones on the battlefield lately, flying into open tank hatches and locating troops hidden in vehicles. And drones with large payloads are likely to shatter the makeshift fencing.The cages aren't total to allow troops to still exit their vehicles, allowing access points for drones to swarm and destroy.Russia's strategy isn't new to the war. Both sides have built cages onto their tanks and vehicles to protect from UAVs, as cheap drones have become a dominating and threatening asset on the battlefield capable of taking out everything from troop positions to armored vehicles.When videos and photos of netting-like cages on tanks first started appearing earlier this summer, it looked like a final gambit to protect against drones, anti-tank missiles, and artillery. And while they may protect some armor crews from death or injury, they also pose a major operational inconvenience, as a defense expert previously told Business Insider. Looking at the Russian ministry's illustrations, some cage placements do raise questions about how the vehicles will function. A cage on a tank turret, for example, could complicate its ability to identify, locate, and target enemies with a tank's main gun. Another cage on an armored vehicle appears to block the view of a driver, making it hard for them to navigate on the battlefield. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 20th, 2023

Russia appears to be putting jamming tech on its tanks as exploding drones chase down its vehicles to deadly effect

Photos show the jammers Russia is apparently attaching to its tanks and vehicles as both sides of the war try to counter the massive threat of drones. DJI Matrice 300 reconnaissance drones conducting test flights near Kyiv on August 2, 2022, prior to being sent to the front line.SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images Photos appear to show the jammers Russia is putting on its tanks and vehicles to disrupt Ukraine's drones. One video advertises the jammers, as Russian Telegram channels crowdfund to purchase more for Russian troops. Both sides in the war in Ukraine are seeking to counter the threat of drones. To counter the seemingly ever-present threat of exploding drones, Russia appears to be attaching jammers to its tanks and vehicles. The move is the latest example of electronic warfare on the battlefield, as both sides ramp up defenses to protect troops from the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have become such a major threat, hunting down top tanks, armored vehicles, supply trucks, infantry squads, and even individual soldiers.Earlier this week, a Russian Telegram channel shared a photo of a camouflaged tank with a jammer on top of its roof screen, a cage designed to protect against first-person view (FPV) drone attacks. —Rob Lee (@RALee85) December 1, 2023 Observers identified the cone-shaped system as a Volnorez C-UAS EW jammer. The same channel had previously shared multiple other photos of the same jammer system being unboxed and attached to other vehicles, including tanks and pickup trucks.A video was also posted advertising the system, its production process, and how it successfully jammed Ukrainian drones. One observer said Russian Telegram channels were crowdfunding to buy more of the jammers for Russian units. While it is unclear how effective these systems are or how many of these jammers are currently in use or where, Russia's apparent decision to equip vehicles with them speaks to a growing concern about the threat of FPV drone attacks. Tank and other armored crews have previously been seen welding cages on their vehicles as a crude defense.But even as armies attempt to employ electronic warfare defenses, both sides of war have been racing to develop drones that are resistant to jamming. Such systems might force nervous vehicle crews to look for other solutions.Such developments also indicate the intensity of the ongoing drone war between Russia and Ukraine. It's a fight in which unmanned systems are a constant threat that can easily ambush unsuspecting targets.Ukraine in particular has demonstrated skill in flying FPV drones into small open hatches on tanks or Russian trenches. It's also developed a domestically made drone with thermal imaging specifically for fast, quiet nighttime raids. The drone is such a threatening presence that Ukraine says that Russia has a evil nickname for it — the Baba Yaga.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 1st, 2023

Tank battles of the kind the Abrams was built for are rare in Ukraine, where tanks aren"t often killed in fights with enemy armor

In Ukraine, the newly arrived M1 Abrams tanks may have less opportunity to do what they do best. U.S. Army M1/A1 Abrams tanks from Charlie company of the 464 Armored Battalion are deployed during task force maneuvers on December 18, 2002, near the Iraqi border in the Kuwaiti.Scott Nelson/Getty Images US-made M1A1 Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine, but the war may not give it the opportunity to do what it does best. The Abrams was designed to defeat Soviet-built armor.  But the war in Ukraine has seen few tank duels, with land mines and drones killing far more tanks, Ukrainian officials told The Wall Street Journal. American-made M1A1 Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine, but these powerful tanks with a combat-proven ability to defeat Soviet-built armor may not see much of the tank-on-tank combat for which they were built.Ukrainian officials told The Wall Street Journal that fewer than 5% of tanks destroyed since Russia's full-scale invasion have been killed by other tanks. An overwhelming majority have been wrecked by land mines, drones, anti-tank missiles, and artillery. Tank battles aren't happening often, the report said.Tank battles do still happen, as recently released battlefield footage has showed, but they are uncommon. Land warfare experts at the Royal United Services Institute noted that earlier this year, writing in a report that "tank-on-tank engagements have become relatively rare."In this environment, the Abrams may have less opportunity to do what it does best. As a former Army officer told Insider, the Abrams "can do other things, but it's built to kill tanks."Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday that Abrams tanks had arrived and were "preparing to reinforce our brigades." US officials told The New York Times the delivery amounted to two platoons' worth, and the remainder of the 31 tanks promised by the Biden administration earlier this year will be sent later. To get the armor there faster, the US opted to send the older M1A1 versions rather than the newer A2 models.View of American M1A1 Abrams tanks as they cross the desert during the Gulf War, Iraq, 1991.Allan Tannenbaum/Getty ImagesIt remains to be seen how the Abrams will perform for Kyiv's forces in Ukraine, but two former US Army officers told Insider the M1A1 is still far superior to Russian tanks and can keep its crew safe from heavy fire while doling out massive damage, even if it requires hefty logistics and significant maintenance.A key objective in the original planning for the Abrams tank was "dominating and defeating the enormous threat inherent in the armor of our potential adversaries," the focus being on Soviet armored forces.In the Gulf War, the Abrams showed exactly what it was capable of, devastating Iraq's Soviet-built T-72s without taking losses from enemy action. Armor crews even recalled incidents in which enemy fire simply bounced off the tanks.In Ukraine, though, there's a chance the tank that performed so well during the Gulf War may not have many chances to duke it out with Russian tanks.Both Ukraine and Russia have revolutionized using cheap, domestically produced first-person view (FPV) drones to take out more much expensive tanks, flying into them and exploding on impact or dropping explosives on them.These unmanned aerial vehicles have become so pervasive that a Ukrainian soldier recently said his unit hasn't fired their rifles in months as the war has become about "shooting drones at each other."Other threats to armor in this war have been soldier-carried anti-tank missiles like Javelins and NLAWS, as well as those fired from attack helicopters.Ukraine's counteroffensive initially struggled as Moscow's Ka-52 attack helicopters and artillery did massive damage to Ukraine's Western-provided tanks and armored vehicles attempting to work their way through dense minefields, in which anti-tank mines were sometimes stacked on top of one another for greater destructive potential. These challenges, for a time, forced troops to abandon their armor and proceed on foot. U.S. Army M1A1 Abrams tank fires during NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle group military exercise Crystal Arrow 2021 in Adazi, Latvia March 26, 2021.INTS KALNINS/REUTERSIt's unclear what this may mean for the Abrams, but Ukraine will likely have to adapt the tank to these threats to bring its firepower to bear. There are still plenty of potentially useful functions the M1A1 brings to the table, including additional mobile firepower that can be used against Russia's fortified defenses and manned positions.The Abrams boasts a powerful 120mm main gun and sophisticated fire control system, as well as the ability to target enemies at greater distances than some Soviet systems.And despite the Abrams' heavy armor — which adds extra weight but allows it to take hits while still dealing damage— it is a surprisingly agile tank thanks to its powerful gas-turbine engine, which can get the 60-ton A1 up to 45 miles an hour, useful for dodging certain threats. And the added armor and emphasis on crew survivability could save the crew if the tank is struck.Beyond enemy threats, Ukraine will still face a major challenge operating the Abrams on the battlefield — and that is keeping it there. Maintaining these vehicles, particularly the engine, is tough. But a US official said last week that Ukraine was getting "a lot more spare parts" with the tanks, which may make it easier for the Ukrainians to keep the Abrams in fighting shape. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 28th, 2023

Russia"s attempt to shield its bombers from Ukrainian attacks with car tires is just the latest in a string of makeshift defenses

Stacks of car tires on top of Tu-95 bomber jets are the latest example of Russia's haphazard defenses to threats. A Russian officer takes a picture of a Tu-95 bomber, or "Bear," at a military airbase in Engels, some 900 km (559 miles) south of Moscow, August 7, 2008.Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters New photos show Russia shielding its Tu-95 bomber jets from missiles with rows of car tires. It's the latest entry in a long list of jury-rigged Russian defenses and force protection measures. Russia recently put cages on its tanks and sunk ships along a key bridge as last-ditch defenses. Amid increasingly devastating Ukrainian strikes deep within Russian territory, Russian aircrews have devised a bizarre form of protection for one of their powerful assets: Rows of car tires to the top of Tu-95 bomber jets. While it's unlikely these makeshift barriers will trick Ukrainian missiles or buffer the blast from exploding drones, the tires are the latest in a long line of Russia's jury-rigged defenses, joining a list that includes welded cages on tanks and sunken barriers near an important bridge. On Tuesday, satellite images of Engels-2 — a strategic bomber base east of Saratov, a southwestern Russian city — surfaced online, showing was appeared to be dark, rubbery patches arranged along the top of Tu-95 bombers and Tu-160 heavy bombers. —Tyler Rogoway (@Aviation_Intel) August 29, 2023  Close-up analysis concluded that the patches were individual car tires, The Drive first reported, likely meant to confuse incoming Ukrainian missiles, such as the R-360 Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles that Ukraine has modified to hit land targets. The tires are also likely an attempt to foil unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes, which have plagued Russian bases and bomber jets in recent weeks.  —Tatarigami_UA (@Tatarigami_UA) September 3, 2023 While the tire shield is a real head-scratcher, it's not the first time that Russian troops have improvised defenses in the hope they'd somehow work. Just last week, satellite images showed Russia had purposefully sunken ships along the Kerch Bridge to occupied Crimea in an effort to protect it from unmanned surface vehicle (USV) attacks after a Ukrainian drone boat attack in July caused massive damage to the roadbed and killed two people. The six sunken ferries appeared to be separated by about 160 meters, or around 525 feet, each, creating a line of hazards along a key stretch of the 12-mile-long bridge that Ukraine has repeatedly targeted with the goal of logistically and symbolically cutting Crimea off from Russian mainland. But an expert told Insider it was far from a catch-all solution for preventing smaller and smarter drone boats from getting to the Kerch Bridge. Other methods for protecting the bridge include smoke screens, likely to make locating and targeting more difficult, as well as containment booms and air defenses, Western intelligence said, although the extent of these measures is unclear.That random assortment of defenses for Kerch Bridge speaks less to a cohesive strategy and more to Russia scrambling to protect against the growing threat of Ukrainian drone boat attacks. Ukraine has prioritized the development and deployment of a naval fleet of drones.United 24/Ukrainian governmentAerial drone attacks, too, have forced the Russians to improvise.In mid-July, both Russia and Ukraine were documented outfitting their heavy armor with netting-like cages. The screens were apparently built on top of armored vehicles as a way of countering smaller drones and anti-tank missiles, and while some look more sophisticated, others seem to be crudely built. —Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 27, 2023 One video apparently showing a Ukrainian first-person view (FPV) drone strike on a Russian MT-LB fighting vehicle with one of these cages noted that the rear of the cage was open, leaving the heavy armor exposed for a hit. And even if the barrier had covered the entire MT-LB, it's unclear how it would fare against a strike or munitions dropped from drones.  —OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) July 5, 2023 One expert told Insider the cages are likely a Hail-Mary effort to keep crews alive from these deadly strikes, speaking to the major impact of drone warfare on the battlefield, but were also a major inconvenience for operations and logistics. They also highlight a glaring issue in Russia's botched responses to threats.  For what many assumed was one of the strongest military powers in the world prior to its messy full-scale invasion of Ukraine, these defenses appear to be last-ditch efforts, possibly hinting at Russia's continued lack of preparation and systematic adapation in the war and habit of underestimating Ukraine. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 5th, 2023

Top tanks worth millions and other expensive heavy armor are being hunted in Ukraine by cheap exploding drones worth only a few hundred bucks

A recent video showed an FPV drone severely damaging an apparent Russian T-90M tank. There's videos like this coming out almost daily. Ukrainian soldiers of the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade, named after King Danylo, prepare to operate the test flight a new FPV drone in the training area as soldiers test their new military equipment as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on August 03, 2023.Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Ukrainian and Russian heavy armor, including their better tanks, are facing a growing threat: FPV drones. These cheap hobby drones run for a few hundred dollars but are hunting tanks worth millions. The growing presence of these drones on the battlefield speaks to an evolution in modern warfare. Cheap hobby drones rigged with a variety of explosives are wreaking havoc on expensive tanks and armored vehicles, as well as other weapons and even supply systems, on the battlefields in Ukraine, and it's a development that will likely have far-reaching implications.This week, a video emerged of first-person-view (FPV) drones slamming into what appeared to be a Russian T-90M, an advanced Russian tank worth as much as $4.5 million by some estimates — significantly more than the price of the drones, likely only a few hundred dollars apiece. —OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 7, 2023 Drone videos like the one above are becoming very common. Footage like this comes out almost daily, highlighting how prominent this capability has become. Drone targets include not just tanks, but also troop transport vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, and supply and ammunition trucks.That these drones are a pervasive threat stands in stark contrast to the notable absence of combat aviation over the same areas due to the high risk of manned jets being shot down. —OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 4, 2023 The cost of a single FPV drone, like the ones being used in these strikes, tends to be around $400 to $500, or roughly the cost of a new Playstation.Rigged with explosives, these cheap drones can damage combat systems and paralyze key logistics and supply operations behind the front lines, imposing far greater costs on the enemy. —OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 7, 2023 "The whole point is cost," Samuel Bendett, a Russia defense and technology expert at the Center for Naval Analyses, told Insider. "These are extremely cost effective."A Ukrainian drone operator from the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade holds a drone during the testing of new military equipment including FPV drones on the training area amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on August 03, 2023.Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesWhat are FPV drones?The FPV drones that are being used in combat in the war in Ukraine are basically amateur loitering munitions, and they can pack a punch. Many of the drones have five- to nine-inch frames and carry a payload weighing between 0.5 and three kilograms.The unmanned systems are modified high-speed hobby racing drones that are assembled with parts sourced from China and other affiliated markets and armed with a makeshift warhead made using plastic explosives or a rocket-propelled anti-tank grenade.Operators wear special goggles, which offer a first-person perspective of the battlefield, and use a remote control to pilot these unmanned aerial vehicles.A Ukrainian drone operator from the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade tests new military equipment including FPV drones on the training area amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on August 03, 2023.Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesThough the drones themselves are one-way drones that explode on impact, the operator systems are reusable, and a single operator might ultimately pilot numerous drones over the course of a battle, making these troops high-priority targets far more valuable than the actual drones.A view of a drone during the testing of new military equipment, including FPV drones, by soldiers from the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade on the training area amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on August 03, 2023.Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesWhere are they coming from?The one-way FPV drones being used by both the Ukrainians and the Russians are largely coming through companies and volunteer operations, though only one side has government support.In the case of the Ukrainians, there's more top-level support, but for the Russians, it's significantly more piecemeal and the defense ministry has yet to throw its weight behind these operations, despite pressure.Ukraine has effectively crowdsourced and crowdfunded an "Army of Drones," and non-profit operations like Escadrone have been, per technology journalist David Hambling, turning out as many as 1,500 FPV drones a month to keep pace with soaring demand.A Ukrainian drone operator from the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade holds a drone during the testing of new military equipment including FPV drones on the training area amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on August 03, 2023.Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesThe cost of each of Escadrone's Pegasus drones, top speeds for which are about 60 mph, ranges from just $341 to $462. For comparison, a loitering munition built to military specifications, like the US-provided Switchblade, can run anywhere between $60,000 and $80,000.On the Ukrainian side, there's "better organization between the government, the volunteers and the military," Bendett said. "There's better cooperation, there's better integration, there's better communication on what's needed. That's still largely missing on the Russian side right now."For Russian forces, FPV drones are the product of multiple organizations funded through private donations.Russian organizations include Sudoplatov, DroneZ, and Project Archangel, among others. Some operations are making thousands of these drones while others are only producing hundreds and have not yet been able to scale up. —Samuel Bendett (@sambendett) August 4, 2023 These Russian efforts, Bendett said, are regularly "calling on the defense industrial sector in their country to invest in the products, to scale up these products of their enterprises, and to flood the Russian forces with tens of thousands of these drones on a monthly basis to meet the challenge. And that hasn't been happening yet." —Samuel Bendett (@sambendett) May 6, 2023 Instead, individual units are putting in orders for FPV drones, and these outfits are doing what they can to meet the demand.The delivery process aside, though, both the Russians and Ukrainians are becoming increasingly effective at integrating FPV drones into their combat operations, changing the way this war is being fought. The Ukrainians, however, seem to have a noticeable edge in drone operations, experts say. —СБ України (@ServiceSsu) July 29, 2023 Unmanned systems have become an integral part of the war, and as drone technology expert Steve Wright recently told Newsweek, at the moment, there really isn't "any doubt that Ukraine is winning the drone conflict."Ukrainian forces have been using drones to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance, to coordinate and correct indirect artillery fire, to drop grenades on vehicles and ground troops, remotely detonate mines and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, and to strike targets.And that's just the ones that fly. Ukraine has also been using unmanned ground vehicles to evacuate wounded soldiers and plant mines and drone boats to attack Russian warships, among other targets.Exploding FPV drones are just one of many types of unmanned systems in this war, but they're proving to be a substantial threat for both sides.Ukrainian military member works with drone parts in a lab on July 10, 2023 in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.Yuriy Mate/Global Images Ukraine via Getty ImagesCan they be beat?Unmanned aerial vehicles are vulnerable to a wide range of different countermeasures, especially electronic warfare and jamming, and the FPV drones are no different.A report from the Royal United Services Institute's Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, both land warfare experts who interviewed Ukrainian service members, revealed in May that Ukrainian forces were losing as many as 10,000 drones every month. It is unclear if or how the FPV drones factored into this figure.The RUSI report said that along the front line, which spans hundreds of miles, Russia has a major electronic warfare system about every six miles or so, in part to neutralize Ukrainian drones by breaking or blocking the data communications that link them to their operator.Electronic warfare can have an effect on FPV drones, as can the rough cope cages some armored-vehicle crews have welded on their tanks and fighting vehicles to shield it from the exploding FPV drones, though not always. —OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) July 5, 2023 The crude cages highlight the desperation emerging in response to a growing threat that first appeared last year but has become one of the Ukraine conflict's signature and ever-present weapons. —Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 29, 2023 Drones are also susceptible to air defenses, but the cost of a missile intercept compared to the cost of the drone is wildly disproportionate.Drone operators, who have typically gone through extensive training, are more valuable from a targeting perspective, and as a Ukrainian engineer told PBS Newshour earlier this year, it is not uncommon for drone operators to hunt each other."The operators are the most valuable thing here because an experienced operator who survives can pilot multiple FPV drones against targets," Bendett said, adding that "both sides are prioritizing going after the operator."A Ukrainian drone operator from the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade tests new military equipment including FPV drones on the training area amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on August 03, 2023.Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesThat said, there continue to be innovations in the field aimed at disrupting the FPV drones, including systems that could potentially be incorporated into the defense of armored vehicles, but it's unclear how far along these projects are at the moment. —Samuel Bendett (@sambendett) August 6, 2023 "There's a lot of experimentation on both sides about what could potentially be effective," he explained. "But, you know, the solutions are not sort of widespread, or the solutions haven't been introduced at scale enough to actually counter these technologies."So for now, these systems remain a deadly threat.The FPV drones are cheap, they are plentiful, and, as Bendett told Insider, "it's a devastating weapon because it can fly low above ground at high speed, which means it won't be noticed until it's too late."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderAug 8th, 2023

David Stockman: How American Neocons Wrecked The Middle East And Ukraine

David Stockman: How American Neocons Wrecked The Middle East And Ukraine Authored by David Stockman via, This is part 2 of “Why There Is Still No Peace on Earth: Washington’s Folly From The Persian Gulf to Ukraine.”  Read part 1. THE FIRST GULF WAR – A CATASTROPHIC ERROR Confronted with the greatest opportunity for global peace in nearly a century, George H. W. Bush did not hesitate:  Upon the advice of his retainers, he immediately elected the path of war in the Persian Gulf. This endeavor was hatched by Henry Kissinger’s economically illiterate protégés at the National Security Council and Bush’s Texas oilman secretary of state, James Baker. They falsely claimed that the will-o’-the-wisp of “oil security” was at stake, and that 500,000 American troops needed to be planted in the sands of Arabia. That was a catastrophic error, and not only because the presence of “crusader” boots on the purportedly sacred soil of Arabia offended the CIA-recruited and trained mujahedin of Afghanistan, who had become unemployed when the Soviet Union collapsed. The CNN-glorified war games in the Gulf during early 1991 also further empowered another group of unemployed crusaders. Namely, the neocon national-security fanatics who had misled Ronald Reagan into a massive military buildup to thwart what they claimed to be an ascendant Soviet Union bent on nuclear-war-winning capabilities and global conquest. Needless to say, by the 1980s the gray men of the Kremlin were as evil as ever, but they were also quite rational and did not embrace a nuclear war winning strategy in any way, shape or form. That was just a pack of neocon lies, which, in any event, led to a massive defense build-up that had virtually nothing to do with containing the ballyhooed Soviet strategic nuclear threat. As it happened, the latter was being handled well enough by the already built, in-place and paid for strategic nuclear triad – forces which well pre-dated the Reagan build-up. So when the defense budget rose by a staggering $170 billion, from $134 billion in 1980 to $304 billion in 1989, only a tiny fraction of the increase was applied to upgrading the strategic nuclear deterrent. Instead, this unprecedented 130% peacetime rise (+50% in inflation-adjusted dollars) went overwhelmingly to the building of a globe-spanning conventional forces armada that was utterly unneeded for America’s homeland security in a world with or without the Soviet Union. Accordingly, everything on land, sea and air was upgraded and expanded. This included the 600-ship Navy and 12 carrier battle groups; massive upgrades of the fleet of M1 tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles; and endless procurement of cruise missiles, fixed-wing planes, rotary aircraft, air-and sea-lift capacity, surveillance and electronic warfare capacity and a black budget so large as to dwarf anything that had gone before. In a word, the misguided Reagan defense build-up enabled the invasions and occupations that commenced almost instantly after the Soviet demise. That is to say, the neocon defense build-up of the 1980s fathered the “Forever Wars” of the 1990s and beyond. The folly and deceit of the purportedly anti-Soviet defense build-up was evident enough at the time because by the mid-1980s the Evil Empire was already unraveling at the seams economically. The reason was simply that communism and rigidly centralized command-and-control economics don’t work—as became abundantly clear to the entire world via the spectacle of Boris Yeltsin, vodka flask in hand, facing down the Red Army in 1991. Like the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back, in the end the mighty Soviet Union was taken down by one of its own drunken apparatchiks. That is to say, the entire neocon narrative of an ascendant, bent on world conquest Soviet Union was made a mockery. That alone should have sent the neocons into the permanent disrepute and obscurity they so richly deserved. But Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and rest of the neocon gang surrounding Bush the Elder managed to deftly pull a “bait and switch” maneuver of no mean extent. Suddenly, it wasn’t about the Soviet Union at all, but the alleged lesson from Washington’s Pyrrhic victory in Kuwait that “regime change” among the assorted tyrannies of the Middle East was in America’s national interest. More fatally, the neocons now insisted that the first Gulf War proved regime change could be achieved through a sweeping interventionist menu of coalition diplomacy, security assistance, arms shipments, covert action and open military attack and occupation via the spanking new conventional forces armada that the Reagan Administration had bequeathed. What the neocon doctrine of regime-change actually did, of course, was to foster the Frankenstein that ultimately became ISIS. In fact, the only real terrorists in the world who have threatened normal civilian life in the West during the last three decades were the rogue offspring of Imperial Washington’s post-1990 machinations in the Middle East. The CIA-trained and CIA-armed mujahedin of Afghanistan mutated into al-Qaeda not because bin Laden suddenly had a religious epiphany that his Washington benefactors were actually the Great Satan owing to America’s freedom and liberty. His murderous crusade was inspired by the Wahhabi fundamentalism loose in Saudi Arabia. This benighted religious fanaticism became agitated to a fever pitch by Imperial Washington’s violent plunge into Persian Gulf political and religious quarrels, the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and the decade-long barrage of sanctions, embargoes, no-fly zones, covert actions and open hostility against the Sunni regime in Baghdad after 1991. Yes, bin Laden would have amputated Saddam’s secularist head if Washington hadn’t done it first, but that’s just the point. The attempt at regime change in March 2003 was one of the most foolish acts of state in American history. Indeed, Bush the Younger’s neocon advisers had no clue about the sectarian animosities and historical grievances that Hussein had bottled up by parsing the oil loot and wielding the sword under the banner of Baathist nationalism. But “shock and awe” blew the lid and the de-Baathification campaign unleashed the furies. Indeed, no sooner had George Bush pranced around on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln declaring “mission accomplished” than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant and small-time specialist in hostage taking and poisons, emerged as a flamboyant agitator in the now-dispossessed Sunni heartland of Iraq. The founder of ISIS succeeded in Fallujah and Anbar province just like the long list of other terrorist leaders Washington claims to have exterminated. That is, Zarqawi gained his following and notoriety among the region’s population of deprived, brutalized and humiliated young men by dint of being more brutal than their occupiers. Indeed, even as Washington was crowing about its eventual liquidation of Zarqawi, the remnants of the Baathist regime and the hundreds of thousands of demobilized republican guards were coalescing into al-Qaeda in Iraq, and their future leaders were being incubated in a monstrous nearby detention center called Camp Bucca that contained more than 26,000 prisoners. As one former U.S. Army officer, Mitchell Gray, later described it, “You never see hatred like you saw on the faces of these detainees,” Gray remembers of his 2008 tour. “When I say they hated us, I mean they looked like they would have killed us in a heartbeat if given the chance. I turned to the warrant officer I was with and I said, ‘If they could, they would rip our heads off and drink our blood. What Gray didn’t know – but might have expected – was that he was not merely looking at the United States’ former enemies, but its future ones as well. According to intelligence experts and Department of Defense records, the vast majority of the leadership of what is today known as ISIS, including its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did time at Camp Bucca. And not only did the US feed, clothe and house these jihadists, it also played a vital, if unwitting, role in facilitating their transformation into the most formidable terrorist force in modern history. Early in Bucca’s existence, the most extreme inmates were congregated in Compound 6. There were not enough Americans guards to safely enter the compound – and, in any event, the guards didn’t speak Arabic. So the detainees were left alone to preach to one another and share deadly vocational advice . . . Bucca also housed Haji Bakr, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein’s air-defense force. Bakr was no religious zealot. He was just a guy who lost his job when the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded the Iraqi military and instituted de-Baathification, a policy of banning Saddam’s past supporters from government work. According to documents recently obtained by German newspaper Der Spiegel, Bakr was the real mastermind behind ISIS’ organizational structure and also mapped out the strategies that fueled its early successes. Bakr, who died in fighting in 2014, was incarcerated at Bucca from 2006-’ 08, along with a dozen or more of ISIS’ top lieutenants.” The point is, regime change and nation building can never be accomplished by the lethal violence of 21st-century armed forces; and they were an especially preposterous assignment in the context of a land rent with 13 century-old religious fissures and animosities. In fact, the wobbly, synthetic state of Iraq was doomed the minute Cheney and his bloody gang decided to liberate it from the brutal but serviceable and secular tyranny of Saddam’s Baathist regime. That’s because the process of elections and majority rule necessarily imposed by Washington was guaranteed to elect a government beholden to Iraq’s Shiite majority. After decades of mistreatment and Saddam’s brutal suppression of their 1991 uprising, did the latter have revenge on their minds and in their communal DNA? Did the Kurds have dreams of an independent Kurdistan spilling into Turkey and Syria that had been denied their 30-million-strong tribe way back at Versailles and ever since? Yes, they did. So the $25 billion spent on training and equipping the putative armed forces of post-liberation Iraq was bound to end up in the hands of sectarian militias, not a national army. In fact, when the Shiite commanders fled Sunni-dominated Mosul in June 2014 they transformed the ISIS uprising against the government in Baghdad into a vicious fledgling state in one fell swoop. But it wasn’t by beheadings and fiery jihadist sermons that it quickly enslaved dozens of towns and several million people in western Iraq and the Euphrates Valley of Syria. THE ISLAMIC STATE WAS WASHINGTON’S VERY OWN FRANKENSTEIN To the contrary, its instruments of terror and occupation were the best weapons that the American taxpayers could buy. That included 2,300 Humvees and tens of thousands of automatic weapons, as well as vast stores of ammunition, trucks, rockets, artillery pieces and even tanks and helicopters. And that wasn’t the half of it. The Islamic State also filled the power vacuum in Syria created by its so-called civil war. But in truth that was another exercise in Washington-inspired and Washington-financed regime change undertaken in connivance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The princes of the Petro-states were surely not interested in expelling the tyranny next door. Instead, the rebellion was about removing Iran’s Alawite/Shiite ally from power in Damascus and laying the gas pipelines to Europe – which Assad had vetoed – across the upper Euphrates Valley. In any event, due to Washington’s regime change policy in Syria, ISIS soon had even more troves of American weapons. Some of them were supplied to Sunni radicals by way of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. More came up the so-called “ratline” from Qaddafi’s former arsenals in Benghazi through Turkey. And still more came through Jordan from the “moderate” opposition trained there by the CIA, which more often than not sold them or defected to the other side. That the Islamic State was Washington’s Frankenstein monster, therefore, became evident from the moment it rushed upon the scene in mid-2014. But even then, the Washington War Party could not resist adding fuel to the fire, whooping up another round of Islamophobia among the American public and forcing the Obama White House into a futile bombing campaign for the third time in a quarter century. But the short-lived Islamic State was never a real threat to America’s homeland security. The dusty, broken, impoverished towns and villages along the margins of the Euphrates River and in the bombed-out precincts of Anbar province did not attract thousands of wannabe jihadists from the failed states of the Middle East and the alienated Muslim townships of Europe because the caliphate offered prosperity, salvation or any future at all. What recruited them was outrage at the bombs and drones dropped on Sunni communities by the U.S. Air Force and by the cruise missiles launched from the bowels of the Mediterranean that ripped apart homes, shops, offices and mosques which mostly contained as many innocent civilians as ISIS terrorists. The truth is, the Islamic State was destined for a short half-life anyway. It had been contained by the Kurds in the North and East and by Turkey with NATO’s second-largest army and air force in the Northwest. And it was further surrounded by the Shiite Crescent in the populated, economically viable regions of lower Syria and Iraq. Absent Washington’s misbegotten campaign to unseat Assad in Damascus and demonize his confession-based Iranian ally, there would have been nowhere for the murderous fanatics who had pitched a makeshift capital in Raqqa to go. They would have run out of money, recruits, momentum and public acquiescence in their horrific rule in any event. But with the U.S. Air Force functioning as their recruiting arm and France’s anti-Assad foreign policy helping to foment a final spasm of anarchy in Syria, the gates of hell had been opened wide, unnecessarily. What has been puked out was not an organized war on Western civilization as former French president Hollande so hysterically proclaimed in response to one of the predictable terrorist episodes of mayhem in Paris. It was just blow-back carried out by that infinitesimally small contingent of mentally deformed young men who can be persuaded to strap on a suicide belt. In any event, bombing did not defeat ISIS; it just temporarily made more of them. Ironically, what did extinguish the Islamic State was the Assad military, the Russian air force invited into Syria by its official government and the ground forces of its Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard allies. It was they who settled an ancient quarrel Sunni/Shiite that had never been any of America’s business anyway. But Imperial Washington was so caught up in its myths, lies and hegemonic stupidity that it could not see the obvious. Accordingly, 31 years after the Cold War ended and several years after Syria and friends extinguished the Islamic State, Washington has learned no lessons. The American Imperium still stalks the planet for new monsters to destroy – presently in the precincts of Russian-speaking eastern and southern Ukraine that are utterly irrelevant to America’s peace and security. Next On Deck – The Ukraine Disaster The present disaster in Ukraine incepted with the Washington-sponsored Maidan coup of February 2014. Among other things it was a “revenge intervention” designed to punish Russia for being so bold as to thwart the neocon regime change adventure in Syria; and especially to haze Putin for persuading Assad to give up his chemical weapons, thereby removing any pretext for Washington military intervention. As it happened, the Russian-friendly president of Ukraine at the time, Vicktor Yanukovych, had at the last minute in late 2013 ditched a long-pending EU affiliation agreement and IMF stabilization plan in favor of a more attractive deal with Moscow. Under the so-called rule of law, that reversal would hardly seem outside the realm of sovereign prerogative. But not by the lights of Washington, red-hot from being check-mated in Syria. Accordingly, the neocon operatives in the Obama national security apparatus, spear-headed by the horrid Victoria Nuland, insisted that the Russian deal not be allowed to stand and that Ukraine’s accession to NATO should be fast-tracked. So doing, they demonstrated an immense ignorance about the 800-year history of the various territories which had been cobbled together in the artificial state of Ukraine, and the long-history of these pieces and parts as vassals and appendages of both Greater Russia and various eastern European kingdoms and empires that had marched back and forth across the pages of history. In a word, they dove into a rabbit hole that has made Washington’s misadventures in the middle east small potatoes by comparison. But the War Party would not be stopped, believing that its vast conventional military armada and the reach of its global economic sanctions could bring Putin to heel, as well. In this context, however, it can be truly said that occasionally a few words are worth a thousand pictures–at least when it comes to Ukraine. Here’s one of them: The Ukrainian leader said that his country hadn’t been willing to cede territory from the beginning. “Had we been willing to give up our territory, there would have been no war,” Zelensky said. He got that right! So the question recurs. Why is it worth Washington’s sweeping Sanctions War on Russia, which is destroying the dollar-based global trading and payments system and triggering a worldwide inflationary calamity, to defend every inch of a sketchy map located on Russia’s doorstep? And that’s to say nothing of risking nuclear war! Indeed, as we elaborate below, the present Ukrainian territorial map exists only due to the handiwork of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev. Here is how and when these brutal tyrants attached each piece of today’s Ukrainian map (in purple, light blue and red, respectively) to the territories acquired or seized by the Russian Czars over 1654-1917 (yellow). Nor should any mystery linger as to where these pieces and parts came from. When the creators of the Soviet Empire carved out a convenient administrative entity during the early 1920s that they were pleased to call the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic they were shuffling around blocks of territory and peoples that had mostly been ruled by Czarist Russia during its final centuries. In fact, prior to the commie takeover of Russia, no country that even faintly resembled today’s Ukrainian borders had ever existed. To the contrary, much of the territories which comprise present day Ukraine have been been joined at the hip with mother Russia for most of the last three centuries: During Imperial times that was via old-fashioned vassal protection and sponsorship and during the brutal rule of the Soviet communists between 1922-1991 it was via totalitarian command. But remove the dastardly work of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev during the latter interval, and nothing like today’s map would exist, nor would Washington be starting a global economic war and triggering soaring energy, food and commodity prices. That’s because the four territories recently “annexed” by Russia would already have been integral parts of Russia! For want of doubt here are sequential maps that tell the story and which make mincemeat of the Washington sanctity of borders malarkey. In fact, the approximate territory of the four annexed regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – plus Crimea are evident in the yellow area of this 220-years ago map (@1800). Collectively, they were known as Novorossiya or “New Russia” and had been acquired by Russian rulers, including Catherine the Great between 1734 and 1791. As is evident from the year-markings in red on the map, the Russian Empire had gradually gained control over the area, signing peace treaties with the Cossack Hetmanate (1734) and with the Ottoman Empire at the conclusion of the various Russo-Turkish Wars of the 18th century. Pursuant to this expansion drive – which included massive Russian investment and the in-migration of large Russian populations to the region – Russia established the Novorossiysk Governaorate in 1764. The latter was originally to be named after the Empress Catherine, but she decreed that it should be called “New Russia” instead. Completing the assemblage of New Russia, Catherine forcefully liquidated the Zaporizhian Sich (present day Zaporizhzhia) in 1775 and annexed its territory to Novorossiya, thus eliminating the independent rule of the Ukrainian Cossacks. Later in 1783 she also acquired Crimea from the Turks, which was also added to Novorossiya. During this formative period, the infamous shadow ruler under Catherine, Prince Grigori Potempkin, directed the sweeping colonization and Russification of the land. Effectively, the Russian Empress had granted him the powers of an absolute ruler over the area from 1774 onward. The spirit and importance of “New Russia” at this time is aptly captured by the historian Willard Sunderland, The old steppe was Asian and stateless; the current one was state-determined and claimed for European-Russian civilization. The world of comparison was now even more obviously that of the Western empires. Consequently it was all the more clear that the Russian empire merited its own New Russia to go along with everyone else’s New Spain, New France and New England. The adoption of the name of New Russia was in fact the most powerful statement imaginable of Russia’s national coming of age. Well, yes, but borders! In fact, the passage of time solidified the border of Novorossiya even more solidly. One century latter the light yellow area of this 1897 map gave an unmistakable message: To wit, in the late Russian Empire there was no doubt as to the paternity of the lands adjacent to the Azov Sea and the Black Sea—they were now part of the 125 years-old “New Russia”. After the madness of WWI and the Bolshevik Revolution, of course, the borders of much of eastern and central Europe were drastically re-arranged.  For instance, at the so-called Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 new countries were fashioned from whole cloth (Czechoslovakia) and long dead countries (Poland) were revived—both upon their own ancient lands as well as those of their former neighbors. Another of these post-WWI creations was Yugoslavia. The kingdom was formed in December 1918, with Serbia’s royal family, the Karadjordjevics, becoming the monarchs of  the new country, which was officially called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes until 1929 – when it became Yugoslavia. By 1946 it had been incorporated into the Soviet Warsaw Pact, with the borders and constituent parts shown below. Needless to say, all of these circa 1919 creations and borders have long ceased to exist. After a decade of civil wars and civilian slaughter in the 1990s, Yugoslavia has become seven independent nations. And not only that: The apparently non-sacrosanct borders of Yugoslavia were rent asunder by NATO bombs, armaments, economic and political aid and covert operations! And then having torn up the old maps like a mere “scrap of paper”, NATO made the new national entities its very own, with the majority now actually members of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance – a vestigial organ that was designed to keep the Balkans contained and the Soviet Union throttled, neither of which condition any more even exists. By the same token, the present-day borders of Poland were moved far to the west at Stalin’s insistence at Yalta. Consequently, the revived nation of “Poland”, which had earlier been created by Woodrow Wilson at Versailles to court the growing Midwestern Polish vote, took on a wholly new map. That is to say, Poland had been dismembered and deleted from the maps by the European powers in the 1790s; had been revived by Wilson’s ignorant demands at Versailles that moved it deep into historic German territories and provided the political fuel for Hitler’s revanchism; and then drastically rearranged again at Yalta where the cynical Churchill and the malevolent Stalin outmaneuvered the senile Roosevelt. Thus, the area outlined in dark blue was Wilson’s Poland, but the huge swath in pink was gifted to Stalin by FDR and Churchill at Yalta. At the same time, the brown areas including the free city of Danzig (Gdansk) and the Danzig Corridor to its right were swiped from the remains of Hitler’s Germany and given back to what amounted to Poland 3.0 – and just within the first half of the 20th century! The same story holds for Czechoslovakia. Its three constituent nations were hammered together at Versailles from the remnants of the Austrian Empire, but eventually went their separate ways after the rule of communism ended in 1991. Today the Czech State and Slovakia exist peacefully side-by-side, and the world is no worse for the wear after their partition. As it happens, however, there is one politically engineered post-WWI map from the region that hasn’t been undone. For reasons known only by the Washington neocons and Warfare State apparatus, the modern borders of Ukraine – hammered together by the writ of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev after 1918 – are apparently the exception to the rule. Indeed, they are deemed to be so sacrosanct as to justify monkey-hammering the global economy with a destructive Sanctions War, even to the point of risking hot military confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers. Of course, had the above mentioned 20th century communist trio been benefactors of mankind, perhaps their map-making handiwork might have been justified. Under this benign contrafactual, they would have presumably combined peoples of like ethnic, linguistic, religious and politico-cultural history into a cohesive natural polity and state. That is, a nation worth perpetuating, defending and perhaps even dying for. Alas, the very opposite was true. From 1922 to 1991 modern Ukraine was held together by the monopoly on violence of its brutally totalitarian rulers. And when they temporarily lost control during the military battles of World War II, the administrative entity called Ukraine came apart at the seams. That is, local Ukrainian nationalists joined Hitler’s Wehrmacht in its depredations against Jews, Poles, Roma and Russians when it first swept through the country from the west on its way to Stalingrad; and then, in turn, the Russian populations from the Donbas and south campaigned with the Red Army during its vengeance-wreaking return from the east after winning the bloody battle that turned the course of WWII. Not surprisingly, therefore, virtually from the minute it came out from under the communist yoke when the Soviet Union was swept into the dustbin of history in 1991, Ukraine has been engulfed in political and actual civil war. The elections which did occur were essentially 50/50 at the national level but reflected votes of 80/20 within the regions. That is, the Ukrainian nationalist candidates tended to get vote margins of 80% + in the West/Central areas, while Russian-sympathizing candidates got like pluralities in the East/South. This pattern transpired because once the iron-hand of totalitarian rule ended in 1991, the deep and historically rooted conflict between Ukrainian nationalism, language and politics of the central and western regions of the country and the Russian language and historical religious and political affinities of the Donbas and south came rushing to the surface. So-called democracy barely survived these contests until February 2014 when one of Washington’s “color revolutions” finally “succeeded”. That is to say, the aforementioned Washington fomented and financed nationalist-led coupe d état ended the tenuous post-communist equilibrium. As to the adverse shock effect of the Maidan coup on Ukrainian governance and external policy with respect to Russia, the maps below tell you all you need to know. The first map is from the 2004 presidential election, which was won by the Ukrainian nationalist candidate, Yushchenko, who predominated in the yellow areas of the map, over the pro-Russian Yanukovych, who swept the blue regions in the east and south. The second map is from the 2010 election, showing the same stark regional split, but this time the pro-Russian candidate, Yanukovych, won. In the map below, the dark blue parts to the far east (Donbas) indicate an 80% or better vote for Viktor Yanukovych in the 2010 election. By contrast, the dark red areas in the west voted 80% or more for the Ukrainian nationalist, Yulie Tymoshenko. That is to say, the skew in the Ukrainian electorate was so extreme as to make America’s current red state/blue state divide seem hardly noteworthy by comparison. As it happened, the sum of the pro-Yanukovych skews from the east and south (Donbas and Crimea) added up to 12.48 million votes and 48.95% of the total, while the sum of the extreme red skews in the center and west (the lands of old eastern Galicia and Poland) amounted to 11.59 million votes and 45.47% of the total. Stated differently, it is hard to imagine an electorate more sharply divided on a regional/ethnic/language basis. Yet it was one which still produced a sufficiently clear victory margin (3.6 percentage points) for Yanukovych – so as to be reluctantly accepted by all parties. That became especially clear when Tymoshenko, who was the incumbent prime minister, withdrew her election challenge a few weeks after the run-off in February 2010. At that point, of course, Russia had no beef with the Kiev government at all because essentially Yanukovych’s “Regions Party” was based on the pro-Russian parts (blue areas) of the Ukrainian electorate. During the next several years the economic basket case which was Ukraine attempted to improve its circumstances by running a bake-off of sorts between the European Union and Russia with respect to aid and trade deals. And well its leaders might have: After the fall of communism, Ukraine had become a cesspool of financial corruption in which a handful of oligarchs had robbed the country blind. By 2014 its real GDP had consequently fallen to $568 billion (2017$), which amounted to a 37% shrinkage from even the threadbare communist economics of 1990. Accordingly, the supposedly pro-Russian Yanukovych administration initiated in March 2012 the above-mentioned Association Agreement with the European Union that was to provide trade advantages and an IMF aid package. However, the EU leaders insisted that no agreement could be ratified unless Ukraine addressed concerns over a “stark deterioration of democracy and the rule of law”, including the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011. In order to address these concerns, in fact, President Yanukovych urged the parliament to adopt laws so that Ukraine would meet the EU’s criteria. Crash of Ukraine’s Real GDP, 1990-2014 But it was the parallel $4 billion IMF loan that turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. According to then Prime Minister Mykola Azarov “the extremely harsh conditions” of the IMF loan (presented by the IMF in November 2013) included big budget cuts and a 40% increase in natural gas bills. Those proved to be hills too high to climb for most of the factions within the fractionated Ukraine polity. Accordingly, the IMF demands became the clinching argument behind the Ukrainian government’s abrupt decision to suspend preparations for signing the Association Agreement with the EU. Instead, Kiev quickly pivoted to a deal with Russia in the fall of 2013, which was willing to offer $15 billion in loans without the harsh IMF pre-conditions. Also, Moscow offered Ukraine a discount on Ukraine’s large gas purchases from Russia. The rest is history, as it were. As mentioned above, the Washington neocons were not about to accept Kiev’s pivot to Russia come hell or high water. So they swung into action bringing all the instruments of the Empire – the CIA, the State Department, NED, the NGOs and favored Ukrainian oligarchs – to bear on scuttling the Russian deal and removing Yanukovych from office. In a later interview with a US journalist, in fact, Ukrainian billionaire oligarch and opposition leader, Petro Poroshenko (who later became president), said quite clearly that the plan was to subvert the nation’s constitution and install an unelected, anti-Russian government that would deep-six the deal with Moscow: “From the beginning, I was one of the organizers of the Maidan. My television channel – Channel 5 – played a tremendously important role. … On the 11th of December, when we had U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and E.U. diplomat Catherine Ashton in Kyiv, during the night they started to storm the Maidan.” It should never be forgotten, therefore, that the coup which overthrew the constitutionally elected government in Kiev was a $5 billion all-hands Washington undertaking. It would never have come to fruition as a successful regime change putsch without the heavy hands of the US State Department along with the other above-mentioned arms of the empire. Needless to say, nullification of a country’s election – backed by the stick of NATO’s military might and the carrot of billions from a Washington/EU/IMF consortium – is big league meddling. Well, except by the clueless hypocrisy of the Washington foreign policy blob. Indeed, as former president Obama told CNN at the time, Washington was just going about its “indispensable nation” business. It had helpfully encouraged another “flowering of democracy” and to that end it had, “……brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.” Brokered a deal my eye! This was a blatant and inexcusable breach of so-called “international law” because it served the will-to-power objectives of the Washington neocons and kept the now largely obsolete US foreign policy apparatus in the hegemony game – to say nothing of recruiting a new customer for arms sales. Never mind that Washington’s massive political and financial support for the Maidan uprising on the streets of Kiev, and then nearly instantaneous recognition of the resulting putsch as the official government of the Ukraine, was a frontal assault on the nation’s sovereignty. The late and detestable Senator John McCain even went to Kiev to show solidarity with the Euromaidan activists. McCain dined with opposition leaders, including members of the ultra-right‐​wing Svoboda Party and later appeared on stage in Maidan Square during a mass rally. There he stood shoulder to shoulder with Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok, who made no secret of his pro-Nazi convictions. But McCain’s actions were a model of diplomatic restraint compared to the conduct of Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, who, by your way, was soon back in the same position in the Biden Administration, conducting the same pro-war neocon policies. As Ukraine’s political crisis deepened, Nuland and her subordinates became more brazen in favoring the anti‐​Yanukovych demonstrators. Nuland noted in a speech to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation in December 2013, that she had traveled to Ukraine three times in the weeks following the start of the demonstrations. Visiting the Maidan on December 5, she famously handed out cookies to demonstrators and expressed support for their cause. Washington’s conduct not only constituted meddling, but it also bordered on puppeteering. At one point, US Ambassador Pyatt mentioned the complex dynamic among the three principal ultra-nationalist opposition leaders, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Oleh Tyahnybok, and Vitali Klitschko Both Pyatt and Nuland wanted to keep Tyahnybok and Klitschko out of an interim government. In the former case, they worried about his extremist neo-Nazi ties; in the latter, they appeared to want him to wait and make a bid for office on a longer‐​term basis (This former boxing champion became the current pugnacious mayor of Kiev). Nuland thus famously stated that, “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary.” She added that what Yatseniuk needed “is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside.” The two diplomats were also prepared to escalate the already extensive U.S. involvement in Ukraine’s political turbulence by bringing in the Big Guy. Pyatt stated bluntly that, “…..we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing [the political transition].” Nuland clearly had Vice President Joe Biden in mind for that role. Noting that the vice president’s national security adviser was in direct contact with her, Nuland related that she told him, “…probably tomorrow for an atta‐​boy and to get the details to stick. So Biden’s willing.” That is to say, Victoria Nuland didn’t merely tell some undercover operatives to buy ads on Ukrainian social media, as Russia was accused of doing during the 2016 US election. To the contrary, she actually picked Yanukovych’s successor and the entire cabinet! And we know this from a hacked phone call between Nuland and the US ambassador in Kiev. In discussing who should lead the Washington-installed government, Nuland made clear who the next prime minister would be and who he should be talking to for advice. Nuland: I think Yats (Arseniy Yatseniuk) is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.  … what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. As it turned out, the putsch leaders followed Nuland’s advice to the letter, installing “Yats” as the new prime minister. But it also filled four cabinet posts out of eleven with rabid anti-Russian neo-Nazis. Indeed, at the heart of the putsch were Ukrainian organizations called Svoboda (national socialist party of Ukraine) and Right Sector. Their national hero was one Stepan Bandera – a collaborator with Hitler who led the liquidation of thousands of Poles, Jews and other minorities as the Nazi Wehrmacht, as previously mentioned, made it way through Ukraine toward Stalingrad in the early 1940s. In fact, another founder and leader of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy, was given a portfolio which included the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. That the Kremlin was alarmed by these developments and that the Russian-speaking populations of Crimea and the Donbas (the blue areas on the electoral map above) feared an ethnic cleansing led by the new Ukrainian nationalist government in Kiev is hardly surprising. Indeed, the first legislative act of the new government was the abolition, on February 23, 2014, of the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law of 2012 which made Russian an official language. As one commentator noted, it was a bit as if putschists decided that French and Italian would no longer be official languages ​​in Switzerland. The Russian language ban caused a storm in the Russian-speaking population. This resulted in fierce repression against the Russian-speaking regions (Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk) which began in February 2014 and led to a militarization of the situation and some notorious massacres (those in Odessa and Mariupol were the most odious). By the end of summer 2014, Crimea had return to Mother Russia after an overwhelming plebiscite and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk became the object of a vicious civil war conducted by Kiev. As we have amplified elsewhere, Sevastopol in Crimea has been the homeport of the Russian Naval Fleet under czars and commissars alike. After 171 years as an integral part of the Russian Motherland, it only technically became part of Ukraine during a Khrushchev inspired shuffle in 1954. The fact is, only 10% of the Crimean population is Ukrainian speaking, and it was the coup on the streets of Kiev by extremist anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalists and proto-fascists that caused the Russian speakers in Crimea to panic and Moscow to become alarmed about the status of its historic naval base, for which it still had a lease running to the 2040s. Thus, during a referendum in March 2014 83% of eligible Crimeans turned out to vote and 97% of those approved cancelling the 1954 edict of the Soviet Presidium that gifted Russian-Crimea to Ukraine. There is absolutely no evidence that the 80% of Crimeans who thus voted to sever their historically short-lived affiliation with Ukraine were threatened or coerced by Moscow. Indeed, what they actually feared were the edicts against Russian language and culture coming out of Kiev. And exactly the same thing was true of the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking populations of the Donbas. So in the context of a relentless and pointless NATO expansion to the very borders of the shrunken Russian state, Washington did not merely sponsor and fund the overthrow of Ukraine’s constitutionally elected government in February 2014. But once it had unleashed a devastating civil war, it also relentlessly blocked for eight years running the obvious alternative to the bloodshed that had claimed 14,000 civilian and military casualties, even before the current hot war commenced. To wit, Ukraine could have been partitioned with autonomy for the Russian-speaking Donbas provinces – or even accession to the Russian state from which these communities had essentially originated. So the appalling truth of the matter is this: Adding insult to injury after its blatantly foolish and reckless coup in February 2014, Washington now insists that the grandsons and granddaughters of Stalin’s industrial army in the Donbas are to be ruled by the grandsons and granddaughters of Hitler’s collaborators in Kiev, whether they like it or not. Yet that historic chasm is exactly where the present civil war originated. And its also why partition of an artificial polity forced together by 20th century communist dictators is the only way out. THE NATO FACTOR The current CIA director, William J Burns, actually recognized the eventual crack-up of Ukraine back in 2008, when he served as U.S. ambassador to Russia. After Ukraine’s NATO aspirations were announced at that year’s Bucharest Security Conference, Burns wrote a secret cable (subsequently published by Wikileaks) entitled, “Nyet Means Nyet: Russia’s NATO Enlargement Redlines”. The missive to Washington contained a stern warning of trouble to come: Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face. He got that right! For more than two decades, Washington’s NATO expansion policy has been a dagger aimed at the heart of an inherently divided Ukrainian polity—a division that had been suppressed by 69 years of brutal communist rule, but which broke into the open after the Soviet Union fell in 1991. So, as Burns predicted, in response to the 2014 putsch, Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the eastern Donbas region rose up against the coup government in Kiev, which they denounced as an illegitimate Western puppet regime, riddled with anti-Russian Neo-Nazis. Independence activists declared the creation of two new autonomous states, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. In turn, the new anti-Russian Ukrainian government in Kiev, with abundant Western military support and weapons, launched a brutal war against these breakaway republics–an assault that went on until the Russian invasion of February 24, 2022. As Kiev’s assault in the Donbas unfolded, upwards of 14,000 Ukrainians were killed, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced – all before the Russian invasion commenced. Moreover, the manner in which the two new breakaway republics armed themselves for combat against Kiev’s forces tells you all you need to know about the deep divisions in the Ukrainian polity. These were fissures which were instantly brought to the surface by the Maidan coup. According to Jacques Baud, a NATO adviser to Ukraine during that period, the breakaway Republic fighters got their arms mainly from defecting Ukrainian units, not Russia! Folks, when entire military units defect with their arms and fighting wherewithal, you are not dealing with minor differences of opinion among a nation’s population; it’s a sign of deep and likely irreconcilable strife. As Baud has further noted, In 2014, I (was) at NATO, responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms, and we (were) trying to detect Russian arms deliveries to the rebels in order to see if Moscow (was) involved. The rebels are armed thanks to the defections of Russian-speaking Ukrainian units which cross over to the rebel side. As the Ukrainian failures progressed, the entire tank, artillery or anti-aircraft battalions swelled the ranks of the autonomists. This is what (drove) the Ukrainians to commit to the Minsk Accords. Just after signing the Minsk 1 Accords in September 2014, however, then Ukrainian President and corrupt oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, launched a vast anti-terrorist operation against the Donbas. But poorly advised by NATO officers, the Ukrainians suffered a crushing defeat at Debaltsevo, which forced them to commit to the Minsk 2 Agreements in February 2015. As it happened, these Agreements provided for neither the separation nor the independence of the Republics, but their autonomy within the framework of Ukraine. That is, the ultimate status of the republics was to be negotiated between Kiev and the representatives of the republics, for an internal solution to the crisis of Ukraine’s split polity. But owing to Washington’s writs this was not to be. Instead, the post-coup Kiev government waged a brutal civil war against the Donbas for eight years. This attack was resisted by Russian-speaking Ukrainians who were deathly afraid of being ruled by the neo-Nazi elements which permeated the Kiev government, military and security forces (SBU). Indeed, even though he had run as the peace candidate, Zelensky put the kibosh on Minsk 2 soon after he was installed in office in 2019. The Minsk agreements, of course, had detailed how Kiev could reintegrate its breakaway regions by offering them a general amnesty, greater autonomy, and representation in the government.  But after having his very life threatened by the Azov militias embedded in Ukraine’s military, Zelensky and other senior officials declared that the Minsk agreements could not be implemented. Instead, they claimed that they could only proceed with their obligations under the agreements after retaking control of the rebel-held areas. Needless to say, as far as the breakaway republics were concerned, disarmament first and negotiations later was an absurd non-starter. In fact, after the fall of 2019, the Zelensky government made a bee line toward severe intensification of the raging civil war, To that end, it caused ascension to NATO to be added to its constitution, even as Zelensky issued at executive order vowing to recover Crimea. Yet as we have frequently explained that territory and the site of Russia’s most strategic naval base had never been part of Ukraine until 1954 when Khrushchev gifted it to the brutal communist rulers in Kiev for their help in securing the succession after Stalin’s death. Moreover, once Zelensky intensified the civil war the idea that Ukraine had anything to do with a functioning democracy lost all meaning. Zelensky’s government soon arrested the leading opposition politicians, shut-down all opposition media by combing multiple TV outlets into a single government propaganda network and, as we saw earlier, initially even outlawed the use of the Russian language. So long before Russia invaded on February 24, 2022, a bloody civil war raged in the unnatural polity called Ukraine. The latter was inherently not built to last given its deep ethnic divisions and especially the legacy of the aforementioned bloody history during WWII, when the country was bitterly divided between populations loyal to Hitler’s Wehrmacht versus those aligned with Stalin’s Red Army. Like after the American civil war, the animosity lasted for decades. So again, as Jacques Baud noted, this was a civil war: There were never major Russian troops in the Donbass before February 24, 2022. Even the US intelligence map published by the Washington Post on December 3, 2021 does not show Russian troops in the Donbass. Indeed, as far back as October 2015, Vasyl Hrytsak, director of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), confessed that only 56 Russian fighters had been observed in the Donbass. It was hardly even comparable to that of the Swiss going to fight in Bosnia during the weekends, in the 1990s, or the French mercenaries who are going to fight in Ukraine today. The Ukrainian army was then in a deplorable state. In October 2018, after four years of war, Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor, Antoly Matios, said that Ukraine had lost 2,700 men in the Donbass but not from the much larger combat losses. Instead, he referenced losses including 891 from disease, 318 from traffic accidents, 177 from other accidents, 175 from poisoning (alcohol, drugs), 172 from careless handling of weapons, 101 from breaches of safety rules, 228 from murder and 615 from suicide! In fact, like everything else in Ukraine, the Army has been severely undermined by the corruption of its cadres. According to a UK Home Office report, when reservists were called up in March-April 2014, 70% did not show up for the first session, 80% for the second, 90% for the third and 95% for the fourth. Thus, to compensate for the lack of soldiers, the Ukrainian government resorted to paramilitary militias. They were essentially made up of foreign mercenaries. As of 2020, they constituted around 40% of Ukraine’s forces and numbered around 102,000 men according to a in-depth Reuters investigation. That is to say, much of what constituted the Ukrainian military force on the eve of the Russian invasions was armed, financed and trained by the United States, Great Britain, Canada and France. These militias, stemming from the far-right groups that led the Euromaidan revolution in 2014, are made up of fanatical and brutal individuals. The best known of these is the Azov regiment, whose emblem is reminiscent of that of the 2nd SS Das Reich Panzer Division. The latter is the object of nationalist veneration in Ukraine for having liberated Kharkov from the Soviets in 1943. None of this is a secret, even if it has been banned from the 24/7 news narrative. So the West supports and continues to arm militias that have been guilty of widespread crimes against the civilian populations of the Donbas since 2014, including rape, torture and massacres. Moreover, the integration of these paramilitary forces into the National Guard was not at all accompanied by a “denazification”, as is frequently claimed. Among the many examples, that of the insignia of the Azov Regiment is edifying: Finally, on the eve of the invasion the Kiev government moved to drastically intensify the civil war and its brutal campaign against the breakaway republics. Beginning on February 16th – a week before the invasion – Ukrainian artillery shelling of the civilian populations of the Donbass increased dramatically, as shown by the daily reports of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) observers. Naturally, neither the media, nor the European Union, nor NATO, nor any Western government reacted or intervened even verbally. At the same time, there were also reports of acts of sabotage in the Donbass. On January 18, Donbass fighters intercept saboteurs equipped with Western equipment and speaking Polish seeking to create chemical incidents in Gorlivka. The Ukrainian artillery bombardments on the populations of Donbass continued to intensify as shown below – so on February 23, the two Republics requested military aid from Russia. And on the 24th, Vladimir Putin invoked Article 51 of the United Nations Charter which provides for mutual military assistance within the framework of a defensive alliance. At that point, the Ukrainian civil war became international, and the artificial nation that was not “Built to Last” was ushered into its death throes. Indeed, the real truth of the matter is that Imperial Washington is now reaping the whirlwind it sowed over decades by massive interference in the internal politics and governance process of countries all over the world – of which the vignette above about the Ukrainian coup and its bloody aftermath is only the latest flock of chickens to come home to roost. Contrary to the bombast, jingoism, and shrill moralizing flowing from Washington and the mainstream media, America had absolutely no national security interest – even to this day – in the spat between Putin and the coup that unconstitutionally took over Kiev in February 2014. That changed everything and knocked the props out from under Washington’s current sanctimonious attacks on Putin for finally resorting to its own game. As we said, Ukraine was “Not Built to Last”. Yet notwithstanding all of these damning realities, Zelensky continues to peevishly and arrogantly demand that Washington and the west stand-up an on-ramp to WWIII (e.g. a No-Fly Zone) in order to defend every inch of this artifact of recent history called Ukraine. After all, if according to the horse’s mouth itself there would have been no war had Ukraine been willing to give up the historic Russian territories of Crimea and the Donbas in the first place, then why isn’t Washington making a bee line toward the negotiating table to offer just that? If the truth be told, of course, it is not interested in ending the Ukraine War or saving a nation which cannot and should not be saved. To the contrary, Washington and its fawning media acolytes have become so crazed with anti-Putin hysteria that they will not be satiated until Russia itself is brought down – even if that threatens to bring down the entire dollar-based global trade and payments system on which America’s tenuous prosperity depends. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/02/2023 - 08:10.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 2nd, 2023

Russian forces are crashing headlong into another city using some of the same catastrophic tactics that bloodied its army in Bakhmut

Moscow's renewed offensive, of which a key effort is capturing the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, features human wave tactics, a surge of armor, and battlefield incompetence. Members of Ukraine's National Guard Omega Special Purpose fire a SPG-9 anti-tank grenade launcher toward Russian troops in the front line town of Avdiivka, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine November 8, 2023.Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERSRussia has faced a slaughter fighting for the eastern city of Avdiivka.Ukrainian forces say they've destroyed heaps of armor, equipment, and personnel.Experts say Moscow has employed similar military tactics to those in Bakhmut.Several weeks have passed since Russia began its renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine, and Moscow's relentless efforts to capture the city of Avdiivka are being met by a steadfast Ukrainian defense.As the days go by, Russia's military losses continue to mount. War experts say the slaughter around Avdiivka bears similar hallmarks to the months-long battle for Bakhmut, where Moscow's catastrophic tactics badly bloodied its army, even though it eventually captured the city.Avdiivka is one of a few areas across the sprawling front line that has seen "the most intense ground combat" in recent days, according to a November 18 intelligence update from Britain's defense ministry. There, it added, Russian forces are suffering "particularly heavy casualties."Mark Cancian, a retired US Marine Corps colonel and a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic International Studies, said Russia's quest for Avdiivka appears to be driven by the same intent as with Bakhmut, which is the opportunity to pinch off a Ukrainian salient (a pocket of territory surrounded by the enemy on three sides)."They've tried to do that many times," Cancian told Business Insider, including in Bakhmut and in other areas like the northeastern city of Izium. "That's a classic military maneuver, something that the Soviets did repeatedly in the latter days of the Second World War."George Barros, a Russia analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said Avdiivka presents a similar situation for Ukraine as Bakhmut did. If Kyiv loses the city, it won't necessarily threaten to completely unravel Kyiv's defense of the broader Donetsk region, though Ukraine will want to avoid letting Russia surround and trap its forces there.Russian armored vehicles moving near Avdiivka.Screengrab/Special Operations Forces of Ukraine via TelegramRussia is also employing a military strategy in Avdiivka that's similar to what it did in Bakhmut, which is sending forward a tremendous amount of combat power in brutal attacks — "throwing good money after bad," Barros told Business Insider.Shortly after Russia began its assault on Avdiivka, a top White House said in mid-October that Moscow was again relying on "human wave tactics" — a gruesome strategy that was widely seen in Bakhmut — for its renewed offensive and was back to sending poorly trained soldiers into battle without proper training or equipment.Combat footage that has since emerged from the area around Avdiivka shows what Ukraine says is destroyed armor, indicative of the heavy losses in personnel and equipment that Moscow has suffered during the fighting. Russian sources from the front lines of the slaughter have also pinned blame on a lack of coordination and preparation from military leadership, as well as unrelenting Ukrainian artillery attacks.War analysts estimated earlier this month that in a period of three weeks, Russia lost more vehicles fighting for Avdiivka than Ukraine lost in several months of intense fighting in the south. Britain's defense ministry said on November 18 that small drones and artillery — including deadly cluster munitions — are playing a "major role" in the fighting there, citing eyewitness reports.A Ukrainian soldier fires during battle in Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, August 18, 2023.Libkos/ AP PhotoUkraine's commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said on November 10 that in the month since Russia launched its offensive against Avdiivka, its armed forces have lost over 100 tanks, 250 other armored vehicles, 50 artillery systems, seven warplanes, and suffered around 10,000 casualties. Business Insider is unable to independently verify these figures."That's a bad way to conduct military operations," Barros said, adding that it's a "needlessly costly" way to carry out offensives as Russia continues to fight attritional battles and incur more losses than necessary."Bakhmut was like that too. It was a tactical victory — I'd argue operational failure — contributing to the continued Russian strategic failure," Barros said. "Avdiivka so far, they've not even yet achieved tactical victory, and it's unclear that they necessarily will. But even if they do at this price point, I would characterize it as an operational failure."But for all the similarities between the two bloody battles, Avdiivka is different from Bakhmut in several ways. For one, it's long been heavily fortified by Ukraine given its role as a strongpoint during the fighting between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists that began nearly a nearly a decade ago.It's also a smaller city than Bakhmut (with a pre-war population of around 33,000 compared to 73,000) and is more operationally significant from a military perspective. While Bakhmut was a place for Ukraine to bleed and destroy Russian combat power, Avdiivka is right on the doorstep of Donetsk, a strategic region that's currently held by Moscow.Aerial footage released November 2 by Ukraine shows a Russian armored vehicle exploding near Avdiivka.47th Separate Mechanized Brigade via Reuters ConnectMaintaining this forward presence by Donetsk is important for the planning and phasing of Kyiv's future operations, Barros said, adding that Avdiivka is also seen as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance having been on the front lines of the separatist fighting for years.As for Moscow's motivations in taking Avdiivka, beyond anything strategic, Barros said that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be seeking some sort of political victory that he can point to ahead of the country's presidential elections next year.For now though, Russian forces continue to conduct "failed assault operations" near Avdiivka, according to an update from Ukraine's military on November 16, and the effort doesn't look like it's going to let up anytime soon.Just as it did when Bakhmut became the focus of the war, the battle for Avdiivka appears to represent a shift in the war and the coming culmination of the counteroffensive."The offensive in Avdiivka indicates that the Russians now have the initiative, that the Ukrainian offensive is over," Cancian said, describing the current fighting for the city as another phase of the 21-month-long war. "These offensives don't go on forever."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytNov 26th, 2023

Ukraine says it"s new drone can fly 20 miles and is resistant to electronic jamming

The Backfire drone's main feature is a "powerful GPS antenna, resistant to Russian jamming," Ukraine said, as both sides look to advance their UAVs. The Backfire drone is currently being prepared for mass production, Ukraine said.Mykhailo Fedorov/Ukraine Ukraine unveiled a new drone it says can fly far behind enemy lines and is resistant to Russian jamming. The Backfire has a range of 20 miles and features a GPS antenna for navigation, Ukraine says. Both Ukraine and Russia have made advancements in their drone technology as UAVs dominate the war. Ukraine has unveiled a new drone, and it says this model can fly far behind enemy lines and resist persistent Russian jamming.It's the latest development in Russia and Ukraine's ongoing drone war, one accelerated by constant technological advancements and the ever-present role of drones on — and above — the battlefield.On Monday, Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for Innovation, Education, Science, and Technology, announced the development of the Backfire unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), calling it "a powerful drone" that flies up to 20 miles in range "behind enemy's positions and causes colossal losses."Specifically, Federov said the drone would help Ukrainian forces "hit Russian artillery, logistics hubs, enemy storage points, and command posts," Ukrainska Pravda reported.  —Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) November 20, 2023 Fedorov noted on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, that the Backfire's main feature is its "powerful GPS antenna, resistant to Russian jamming" and electronic warfare. That antenna, Fedorov added, "is almost impossible to jam," Ukrainska Pravda said, and thanks to the drone's "complete autonomy, the Russians cannot trace its coordinates and ground crew."And while the Backfire drone will soon be mass produced and join Ukraine's other various UAVs in combat, Fedorov said it's already completed 50 or more successful missions over the past few months. Ukrainian soldiers build home-made drones, as the Russia-Ukraine war continues in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.Ignacio Marin/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesThe Backfire is Ukraine's latest development in a vicious drone war that has kept both sides on its toes as technological advancements force constant innovation. Troops regularly rely on drones to fight in combat — one Ukrainian service member said in September that his unit hadn't really fired its rifles in half a year and was often relying on drones to fight. Throughout the conflict, relatively cheap UAVs have taken out tanks and armored vehicles, largely asymmetric targets, as well as virtually anything that moves on the battlefield. Videos from the war regularly show first-person view (FPV) drones colliding with tanks, flying into open hatches in armored vehicles, sneaking up on troops in trenches, and exploding on impact.Their buzzing overhead is a constant reminder of danger and signals that, at any moment, an exploding UAV could be flown into an unsuspecting target. Both Ukraine and Russia are actively participating in an drones arms race of sorts, which has pushed them to seek new technologies in order to best the other side. Beyond autonomous drones, operators, too, have become critical for both Ukraine and Russia, as they develop a variety of specific flight and control skills. But their value also makes them key targets for their enemies, which leads to operators targeting one another with their drones. But as the impact of drones grows, so have efforts to stop them. The front lines are flooded with jamming technology that scrambles drones' navigation controls. While operator-controlled drones are typically less susceptible to this, and cheaper should they be lost or destroyed in battle, jamming is still a major problem. That makes Ukraine's new Backfire's potential to block Russian interference so vital, giving Ukraine an edge to fly along and behind enemy lines. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 21st, 2023

Exploding drones are proving a weapon unlike any other in Ukraine, and no one is safe, combat videos show

Exploding drones are everywhere and going after anything that moves, not just tanks and armor. "Welcome to the future," one expert said. "It sucks." Ukrainian service members participate in FPV drone operations in October 2023Kostya Liberov / Libkos via Getty Images Cheap exploding drones have a reputation as asymmetric tank killers, but they're more than that. These weapons are unlike any other threat in Ukraine and are reshaping combat. Footage show these things killing troops, even lone soldiers, in trenches, hideouts, and in the open. More and more, it isn't just tanks and armored vehicles falling prey to cheap hobby drones packed with explosives in Ukraine. These weapons are seemingly everywhere, killing not just unlucky vehicle crews but also dismounted infantry, sometimes even just a single soldier. Anything that moves is at risk."Welcome to the future. It sucks," a drone expert told Insider as combat footage from Ukraine on social media increasingly shows that nothing and no one is safe from these weapons.While videos from the war still regularly show first-person-view (FPV) drones slamming into tanks, armored personnel carriers, and supply trucks, footage also frequently shows precision strikes on dugouts, troop hideouts, trenches, squads, and lone soldiers. The videos, a few of which appear in this article, are graphic images of the human cost of war and highlight just how much these weapons, really unlike anything else on the battlefield, are changing this conflict. As drone fleets grow and more pilots become trained on the technology, they're exacting heavy casualties on enemy troops and contributing to the war's increasingly static lines.No other weapon is doing all of the things these unusual weapons do, from flying into vehicle hatches to chasing down soldiers. There's no missile, bomb, bullet, or artillery shell that can do these things, at least not like this. —OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) November 14, 2023 Not only are there more of these drones out there, Samuel Bendett, a military robotics and unmanned systems researcher, told Insider, but drone operators are also engaging in so-called "free hunts," where they search for enemy targets and destroy what they find with the same drone. —OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) November 16, 2023 "Earlier, FPV strikes took place only after it was scouted by an ISR drone," he said, referring to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations. "Now, FPV drones take off and look for the target while in flight," and when they find one, "they just strike it." —OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) September 24, 2023 These drones, often cheap hobby-style racing drones that cost several hundred dollars and are equipped with plastic explosives or a rocket-propelled grenade warhead, fill a combat role somewhere between a sniper rifle, a missile, and artillery, eliminating both enemy vehicles and personnel.And the effect of these one-way systems is magnified by the lack of combat airpower near the front lines due to the high risk of being shot down. If a drone goes down, a pilot just sends another one out. —OSINTNic (@OSINTNic) November 7, 2023 "It is that technology that enables a very precise hit exactly where you want it," Bendett said."You can literally pilot it to any spot on a tank or an armored vehicle. You can maneuver it so that it strikes that very one small undefended area," he said. "That is why we're seeing videos of these literally flying into hatches, doors, dugouts." —Serhii Sternenko ✙ (@sternenko) November 13, 2023 The videos of drone strikes that show up on open-source intelligence channels on an almost daily basis are likely only a fraction of the drone operations being conducted, as many probably fail for any number of reasons, from being jammed to simply running out of battery.But the effectiveness of the attacks, many of which have taken out tanks worth millions of dollars, has both Ukraine and Russia hunting one another's drone operators, often with exploding drones. —Samuel Bendett (@sambendett) November 13, 2023 A serviceman of Separate 14th Regiment of Armed Forces of Ukraine, holds FPV strike drone on the front line on October 26, 2023 in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukraine.Vitalii Nosach/Getty Images'This is the future of warfare'The proliferation of exploding FPV drones, remotely operated systems able to deliver a heavy blow with an unparalleled precision, as well as other unmanned systems, is reshaping fighting in Ukraine.While artillery and the expenditure of substantial amounts of ammunition are still defining elements of this conflict, a Ukrainian service member said in September his unit hadn't really fired its rifles in half a year and was often relying on drones. —Dmitri (@wartranslated) November 2, 2023 The Ukrainian soldier said in a video posted online that "this is the future of warfare: shooting drones at each other rather than bullets or shells." Other troops have made similar comments, talking about abandoning more traditional weapons in favor of these deadly drones.Bendett told Insider that this kind of fighting has the potential to lead to "sort of a stationary kind of impasse because each side can have its movements observed, tracked, and eventually hit.""Any large scale movement becomes very dangerous," he said, adding that "ultimately, both sides acknowledge that anything that moves, anyone that moves can be observed, tracked, and potentially slammed with an FPV drone." From the videos, it's clear this is the state of the war today.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytNov 17th, 2023

US MQ-9 Reaper spy drones patroling Gaza"s sky to search for hostages held by Hamas, says Pentagon

The unmanned and unarmed MQ-9 Reapers began flying in the region shortly after the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel. MQ-9 ReaperUS Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Rio Rosado The Pentagon confirmed it has sent unarmed MQ-9 reaper drones to fly over Gaza. The aircraft began flying in the region shortly after the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel. The Pentagon said the hi-tech drones were sent to support Israel's hostage-recovery efforts. The US Defense Department confirmed Friday it has sent surveillance drones into Gaza, indicating the Pentagon is playing an active role in the effort to help rescue hostages held by Hamas.The unmanned and unarmed MQ-9 Reapers began flying in the region shortly after the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.The Israeli military says that 242 people were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists that day, including some US citizens."In support of hostage recovery efforts, the US is conducting unarmed UAV flights over Gaza, as well as providing advice and assistance to support our Israeli partner as they work on their hostage recovery efforts," the statement reads, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles.The remotely piloted MQ-9s are often used for surveillance because they can hang in the air for 24 hours and house a "robust suite of visual sensors for targeting," according to the US Air Force. Each unit costs $56.5 million, per 2021 US Air Force data.An MQ-9 Reaper drone receiving maintenance earlier this year.Department of DefenseThe New York Times last week identified MQ-9 Reapers flying over Gaza using the flight-tracking website Flightradar24. Those officials said they believed it was the first time US drones had flown over Gaza. Unnamed US military officials told the Times the spy planes were not supporting Israel's ground-military operations in Gaza. Hamas is thought to be keeping many of its hostages in its intricate system of tunnels, which presents a challenge to the recovery efforts.The US military sent warships and troops to the Middle East within hours of the deadly October Hamas attack, and it has also provided weapons to Israel. On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there would be no cease-fire in Gaza until all the hostages there had been released.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 4th, 2023

Hamas used drone bombs to launch its war with Israel from Gaza, and took out hi-tech observation towers, videos show

Videos released by Hamas appear to show how the militant group used drones to bomb Israeli observation towers on the boarder. Smoke billowing next to an Israeli observation tower on October 7, 2023.SAID KHATIB/Getty Images Videos released by Hamas appear to show how drones were used to launch its war with Israel. Clips show the bombing of Israeli observation towers on the border.  Hamas then used rockets and paragliders to infiltrate the territory further. Videos seem to show how Hamas used drones to launch its war with Israel.The clips were first broadcast by Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV channel on Sunday but have circulated on social media since. They show up-close footage of the bombing of Israeli observation towers and along the Gaza border. Weapons systems were also targeted before Hamas launched rockets, paragliders flew over the border, and gunmen poured across the border to battle Israel troops, murder civilians, and kidnap hostages.The attack, launched on October 7, is the deadliest inflicted on Israel in over 50 years. The subsequent warfare has left hundreds dead, thousands injured, and over 100 people taken hostage.  —Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 8, 2023 Hamas fighters invaded Israel by blowing holes in the border fence, the Times of Israel reported, which allowed in hundreds of militant groups, mostly on motorcycles and trucks.Some tried to enter the Israel via the sea in motor boats, per the outlet, but were fought back. Hamas also released videos of exploding drones targeting Israeli vehicles, Auburn Citizen reported.In response, Israel fired hundreds of retaliatory strikes, targeting weapons factories and high-rise buildings where some Hamas members have offices. —Quds News Network (@QudsNen) October 7, 2023 Battle drones, often cheap and easy to deploy, are becoming a defining weapon of warfare in the 21st century. Following Russia's invasion, they have been used extensively by both sides to attack infrastructure, destroy tanks and other weapons, and support infantry. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 8th, 2023

Cheap drones rigged with explosives have become the leading anti-tank weapon against Russian forces, Ukrainian commander says

The homemade explosive-laden one-way attack drones have been destroying Russia's more advanced T-90M tanks worth millions of dollars. A Ukrainian drone operator from the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade holds a drone during the testing of new military equipment including FPV drones on the training area amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on August 03, 2023.Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Cheap drones rigged with explosives have become the "main" anti-tank weapon for Ukraine, an officer said. Ukrainian Senior Lt. Yuri Filatov told The Washington Post the drones have been destroying Russian tanks.  In recent months, the low-cost attack drones have wreaked havoc on the battlefields in Ukraine. Cheap drones rigged with explosive devices have become extremely prominent and have emerged as the leading anti-tank weapon for the Ukrainian military in Russia's war against it. A Ukrainian officer told The Washington Post in a report published on Wednesday that first-person-view (FPV) drones, which are operated remotely with the use of a controller and headset, "have become the main anti-tank weapon" against Russian forces, compared to alternatives like anti-tank missiles.The inexpensive homemade explosive-laden one-way attack drones have been destroying Russia's more advanced T-90M tanks, worth millions of dollars, and other armored vehicles on the battlefield, Senior Lt. Yuri Filatov, drone systems chief commander for Ukraine's 3rd Separate Assault Brigade, told the Post. In a single day, Filatov recalled, Ukrainian forces used the exploding drones to wreck four Russian tanks, all while keeping Ukrainian troops a safe distance from the destruction."As we use more drones," the officer told The Washington Post, "we are losing fewer people."In recent months, these low-budget attack drones, which cost between $400 and $500, have wreaked havoc on the battlefields in Ukraine. They're being used by both the Ukrainians and the Russians. "It's a revolution in terms of placing this precision guided capacity in the hands of regular people for a tiny fraction of the cost of the destroyed target," drone expert Samuel Bendett of the Center for Naval Analyses told the Post."We're seeing FPV drones strike a very precise spot, which before was really the domain of very expensive, high precision guided weapons. And now it's a $400 drone piloted by a teenager," he added.The expert explained that the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles could have a "tremendous psychological effect" on would-be targets. "You almost never know where an FPV drone is coming from," said Bendett. A deputy company commander in Ukraine's 80th Separate Assault Brigade told the Post that Russian troops use FPV drones the same way as Ukrainian soldiers but noted that it appears Moscow has more equipment. "It's like a chess game," said the commander who goes by the call sign Swift. "They're winning it. Just in terms of quantity." While that may be the case, experts previously told Insider Ukraine has demonstrated better top-level support for the production of these systems than Russia.Ukraine's Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, for example, has said that the country is dedicated to building up a cutting-edge "army of drones," and that project has seen the introduction of thousands of unmanned platforms into combat.The Associated Press recently reported Ukraine has already trained more than 10,000 new drone pilots this year.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 4th, 2023

Tank battles in Ukraine are putting several generations of "crappy Russian armored vehicles" and their flaws on display

Russian-designed tanks have been in use around the world for decades, and many of their well-known vulnerabilities are visible again in Ukraine. Destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv in August.Yevhenii Zavhorodnii/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images Thousands of tanks have been destroyed in Ukraine since Russia attacked last year. Most of the tanks each side is using were designed and built during the Cold War. Many of the vulnerabilities revealed in those tanks' decades of service are on display in Ukraine. Tanks have been a defining feature of land warfare for over a century, and the war in Ukraine is no exception.Thousands of tanks and armored vehicles have been destroyed since Russia attacked in February 2022. An unusual feature of that fighting has been that both sides are using the same or similar models of tanks.That commonality is a reflection of the Soviet military's lasting legacy. While updated variants and new models have been introduced since the Soviet disintegration in 1991, most of the tanks being used in Ukraine were designed — and many of them built — during the Cold War.While it may not be surprising that old tanks have vulnerabilities, nearly two years of combat have put their outdated qualities on full display.T-72s, T-80s, and T-90sUkrainians load a Russian T-72 onto a truck outside Izyum in September 2022.ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty ImagesThe most common tank at the front has been the T-72. Introduced in 1973, it's the backbone of the Russian armored corps and is one of the most widely used main battle tanks in the world.Weighing about 45 tons, the T-72 has a crew of three — a commander, a driver, and a gunner — and is armed with a 125 mm smoothbore gun capable of firing tank rounds and antitank missiles. It also has a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun mounted in the hull and a 12.7mm heavy machine gun on the turret.The T-72 is equipped with an autoloader and carries about 38 rounds — 22 in a carousel at the bottom of the turret and the rest stored in the turret.There are multiple T-72 variants, some with their own sub-variants. The most modern in Russian service are the T-72B3 and the T-72B3M, which have improved sights, electronics, engines, and, on the B3M, a new gun. They also rely heavily on explosive reactive armor — explosive blocks mounted on the exterior that detonate outward to counter incoming antiarmor projectiles — though it can add as much as 2 tons in weight.T-72B3 tanks in Red Square in Moscow in May 2019.ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP via Getty ImagesThe T-72B3M only entered service in 2017, but it already has a sub-variant, the T-72B3M Obr. 2022, which has been modified based on lessons from Ukraine.The Russians have also employed the T-80 in large numbers. Introduced in 1976, the T-80 is slightly larger and heavier than the T-72. It has a 125 mm smoothbore gun that also fires tank rounds and antitank missiles, a coaxial PKT machine gun, and a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun on the turret.The T-80 also has a crew of three and an ammo carousel at the base of the turret that holds at least 28 rounds (the tank carries about 40 rounds total) and an autoloader. The T-80 is unique for having a gas-turbine engine instead of a traditional diesel engine and for having an especially large amount of ERA blocks.The Russians primarily use three T-80 variants: the T-80U, T-80BV, and T-80BVM, which are distinguishable by how their ERA blocks are arrayed. The T-80BVM has also been upgraded as a result of experiences in Ukraine, resulting in a new sub-variant, the T-80BVM Obr. 2023.US soldiers examine a Ukrainian T-80 tank during an exercise in September 2014.Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesThe Russian defense firm Uralvagonzavod has been tasked with building new T-80s from scratch — a good indicator of the tank's battlefield value — but that isn't as easy as it sounds.Russia hasn't built a new T-80 hull or a new gas-turbine engine for the tank in more than 30 years. While machine tooling may be available, new construction may require hundreds of subcontractors who also haven't built tank parts in decades.The most modern tank that Russia has used widely so far is the T-90. It was adopted in 1992 and was intended to replace the T-72 and T-80. It's heavier than both, weighing about 50 tons. (Russian officials say the newer T-14 has been used in Ukraine but not in direct combat.)The T-90 also has a crew of three and is equipped with an ammo carousel and autoloader in the turret, where about half of the tank's 40 rounds are also stored, as well as a 125 mm smoothbore gun, a PKT coaxial machine gun, and a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun.A destroyed Russian T-90M tank in the Kharkiv region in May 2022.REUTERS/Vitalii HnidyiIn 2019, Russia adopted an upgraded variant known as the T-90M, which was developed based on the Russian military's experience in Syria. It features a new turret with a rear external compartment capable of holding 10 additional rounds, new ERA blocks on its turret and sides, and a remote-operated 12.7 mm heavy machine gun.In addition to cage armor on the rear of the hull and turret, the T-90M is equipped with a metal net covering the gap between the hull and the turret to stop anti-tank projectiles, an upgrade also featured on the newest T-72 and T-80 sub-variants.Ukraine also has T-72 and T-80 fleets, which it has replenished with captured Russian T-72s, T-80s, and T-90s. It has also received hundreds of T-72s from NATO countries, including more than 200 from Poland, which also sent its own upgraded version of the T-72.Ukraine was a hub for Soviet tank manufacturing, including of the T-80, and retained that industry after the Cold War. In addition to inherited T-80Us, Ukraine has operated domestically built T-80UD (which the Russians also use) and T-84 variants, the latter of which has a sub-variant, the T-84 Oplot-M.'Crappy Russian armored vehicles'A Soviet soldier with T-80 tanks awaiting shipment back to the Soviet Union from Germany in January 1991.Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty ImagesWhile both sides have lost many tanks, Russia's losses are considered especially high, with open-source estimates counting as many as 1,500 destroyed and another 800 abandoned, captured, or damaged.Those steep tallies can be attributed to inadequate training, poor tactics, and the sophistication of Ukraine's antiarmor weapons, but Russia's tank designs also have long-standing vulnerabilities.One put on vivid display in Ukraine is the tendency of ammo stored in the unprotected turret carousel to detonate when incoming fire penetrates the turret or the side of the tank. This creates a "jack-in-the-box effect," wherein the turret is blown off, killing the crew and destroying the tank.Russian tanks "have been notorious for their flaws since 1967," Barry Posen, a professor and expert on international affairs and military strategy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said at an MIT event last year.A captured Russian T-72B3 tank and MT-LB armored vehicle in a warehouse in eastern Ukraine awaiting repair and use by Ukrainian forces in February.John Moore/Getty Images"We're in the third or fourth generation of crappy Russian armored vehicles, and this is kind of a weird thing because people have been blowing these armored vehicles to pieces all over the world. Russian designers have had lots of time to work on this problem," Posen said."So far, there appears not to be much change — or to the extent that there is change, the Western designers who design antiarmor warheads manage to keep well ahead," Posen added, pointing to the frequency of "k-kills," or "catastrophic kills," against Russian tanks in Ukraine.Russian tactics early in the war "leaned into the flaws" of their tanks, Posen said. Russian troops have made adaptations since then, such as welding large cages to their tanks in hopes of thwarting antitank missiles and one-way attack drones.In contrast, NATO tank designs emphasize crew survival. Their tanks have a separate internal storage compartment for ammunition, usually in the rear, with a blast door that opens and closes during the reloading process. If detonated by incoming fire, the rounds explode upward and to the rear rather than into the crew compartment.A Danish instructor leads a Ukrainian tank crew and translators through training on a Leopard 1A5 in Germany in May.Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesUkraine's Soviet-era tank fleet is now being supplemented with newer Western-designed tanks, chiefly the German-made Leopard 2. Ukraine has received several dozen Leopard 2A4s and Leopard 2A6s from Germany, Poland, Spain, Norway, Canada, Portugal, and Denmark. Sweden also donated 10 Stridsvagn 122s — its version of the Leopard 2A5.Ukraine has also received 14 British-made Challenger 2 tanks and is getting 31 US-built M1A1 Abrams tanks, the first of which arrived in late September.Keeping those Western-supplied armored vehicles in action could become a challenge. While Russian fire often immobilizes rather than destroys them, "rebuilding them demands a consistent provision of spare parts," the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank, said in a recent report.That means Western countries "need to ensure that the industrial support is available to make the Ukrainian military sustainable," the report said.A Ukrainian Leopard 1 tank crew at a test site in Ukraine in September.Roman Chop/Global Images Ukraine via Getty ImagesParts notwithstanding, Ukrainian troops already hold their Western-provided tanks and armored vehicles in high regard, largely because they have better chances of surviving in them.Despite heavy losses of armored vehicles — including several Western-supplied tanks — the design of the Western-made vehicles "is preventing this from converting into a high number of killed personnel," the RUSI report said."The difference is huge," a member of Ukraine's 47th Mechanized Brigade, which has used Leopard 2A6 tanks in combat, said in an interview in September."The main advantage of this machine is crew survivability. Meaning when you go out in it, you are more at ease about your life and the lives of your fellows," the tanker said. "There's no such effect as in Soviet equipment — no detonation of the ammo rack and no turret flying off."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 4th, 2023

Video of a cheap drone destroying an exposed T-72 hints Russian crews are still working out how to hide their tanks from a growing threat, former US general says

A former US Army general said he's shocked by Russia's poor efforts to camouflage their tanks, and it hints at larger problems in Moscow's military. A Russian Army T-72B3 main battle tank during military exercises in the Astrakhan region of Southern Russia on September 25, 2020.DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images A video surfaced online showing a seemingly exposed Russian T-72 tank struck by an FPV drone. Top US military officers took note of the lack of basic concealment or camouflage.  One former US Army general told Insider it may speak to larger issues within the Russian military. A video of what looks like a cheap drone destroying a Russian T-72 tank seems to speak to Ukraine's skillful use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in combat and shed light on potential problems within the Russian military with regard to basic training and communication of key lessons in an evolving fight, according to a former top US Army general. The video was shared online by Ukraine war monitors on Monday, although it's unclear exactly when and where it was recorded, and appears to show a T-72 tank relatively exposed amid some shrubbery near dirt roads without obvious camouflage, making it a prime target for a first-person view (FPV) drone rigged with an explosive.The UAV seems to identify the tank before diving and slamming into it, causing a massive explosion. In the aftermath, the T-72 is completely ruined, with flaming pieces of the wreckage spread around the area. The tank's turret is one of the pieces that goes flying, a long-standing issue with the old Soviet-era tanks. —Saint Javelin (@saintjavelin) September 18, 2023 It's far from a novel occurrence. Throughout the war, a variety of videos have been shared on Telegram and by open-source intelligence accounts documenting FPV kamikaze drones destroying Russian tanks. It's an asymmetrical loss for Moscow, as expensive, valuable assets and crews are struck and eliminated by comparatively cheap UAVs, which Ukraine has been employing in large numbers and with great skill. But this specific video sparked reactions from former top US military officers, with James Stavridis, a retired US Navy admiral and a former top NATO commander, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, that "it appears this Russian tank is going to need more than a little time in the shop" and Mark Hertling, a retired US Army general and a former head of US Army Europe saying "this one won't be back in the motor pool by Friday."Ben Hodges, a retired lieutenant general and former commander of US Army Europe, posted more pointed criticism. "I continue to be surprised by the poor camouflage and ineffective efforts at concealment by Russian forces," he wrote. "Basic field craft. But it requires experienced demanding Sergeants." Hodges told Insider the Russian tank looked to be "easily identifiable from the air," and considering that both sides of the war have been building seemingly endless stockpiles of drones to launch at one another, the Russian crew needed to be conscious of being spotted.He added that efforts to conceal the tank and make it harder to target could have included net and foliage that breaks up the hard outlines of the vehicle. Or Russian forces could've taken a more modern approach — flying their own drones above their position to scout, protect, and counter-attack.The lack of such efforts and the certainly fatal results may reflect deeper, underlying issues for the Russian military. A single incident alone might not, but failures in basic tactics appear frequently in videos of Russian troops in action.Eighteen months into this war, training and the communication of lessons from the battlefield across the force appear to be a significant problems for Russian forces. And one of the most glaring aspects of these issues seems to be a lack of experienced troops training fresher, younger recruits on "things like tactical concealment," Hodges said. A Russian army T-72-B3 tank fires during military exercises at the Raevsky range in Southern Russia on September 23, 2020 during the "Caucasus-2020" military drills gathering China, Iran, Pakistan and Myanmar troops, along with ex-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus.DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty ImagesDrone warfare has taken the center stage in Ukraine, painting a clear picture of what future conflicts involving UAVs could look like. Russian and Ukrainian FPV drones are pummeling tanks while other drones drop bombs on soldiers.Meanwhile, Ukraine has demonstrated a special talent for driving unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) like exploding drone boats into Russian ships and bridges, making the Black Sea a nightmare to navigate. Russian, on the other hand, has used loitering munitions like the Shahed-136 to ruthlessly attack civilian targets. Both the Ukrainians and Russians are having to adapt to the growing threat of drones on the battlefield, and it's something that both sides struggle with. Some crews react better than others, but one thing Ukraine has that Russia does not is a strong noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps able to instill critical lessons across the armed forces. And casualties are only making the problem worse for Russia."This has never been a strong suit in the Russian Army, but they've lost so many of their experienced soldiers by now that the problem is even worse," he added. Ukraine spent years building a Western-style military structure, giving them a stronger support network across ranks. But Russia lacks a similar corps of noncommissioned officers, and many of their more experienced units have been decimated by high casualties and filled with lackluster replacements. That's left the Russian military weak in leadership and experience at the tactical level, resulting in a regular stream of videos of Russian armor driving into a well-executed ambush, attack helicopters flying into air defenses, and exposed infantry clustering within range of rocket artillery. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 19th, 2023

Russia"s planting mines everywhere, even cruelly hiding explosives in everyday items like fridges, toys, and children"s books, Ukrainian military engineers say

Russian soldiers are "just trying to cause as much damage as they can" with their deadly booby traps, one told Insider. Ukrainian military sappers demine the road in a fog close to Kherson, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.AP Photo/LIBKOS Russian soldiers who previously occupied Ukrainian territory left it littered with land mines.  Ukrainian military engineers told Insider that Russia also set deadly booby traps in people's homes. Moscow's troops hid explosives in every items like toys, fridges, and even children's books.  Ukraine has been battling Russia's invasion for more than 17 months, but it's held it's own and even managed to liberate massive swaths of land that it lost early in the fighting. By some Western estimates, around 50 percent of what was initially seized has already been reclaimed by Kyiv's troops. But expelling the Russians from towns, cities, and rural areas doesn't mean eliminating the threat altogether. Occupying soldiers have left behind a deadly and vicious problem for Ukraine — one that will cause it headaches for years and years to come: the widespread deployment of land mines and traps. Russia has practically mined everything, Ukrainian military engineers told Insider in a recent interview. And they often do so for no obvious tactical advantage. For instance, they cruelly hide explosives in everyday household items like refrigerators, toys, and even children's books. The goal is simply to inflict as much damage as possible. Mines are, of course, also a huge problem on the front lines. During the months leading up to the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russia built layers of elaborate defenses, with one of those fortifications being sprawling minefields along the front in the eastern and southern regions. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said last month that this the biggest problem for Ukraine to solve, and the leading cause of casualties among Kyiv's troops.  A sapper checks an area as rescuers work at a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike, amid Russia's invasion on Ukraine, in the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 16, 2022.REUTERS/Gleb GaranichBetween Russia's current defensive lines and the mines left behind from earlier phases of the war, Ukraine has effectively become the most mined country in the world — with some officials suggesting that over 40 percent of the country's territory may be contaminated. It could take centuries to clean up all the explosives at a cost of tens of billions of dollars. Some observers have even suggested it may never be completely demined.Removing these mines is a painstaking and deadly process, often carried out by sappers, combat engineers tasked with everything from building bridges to clearing minefields.One of these individuals is Oleksandr, who leads a small team of young sappers engaged in humanitarian demining efforts around Kyiv and other regions in northern Ukraine. This area had been under Russian occupation during the early weeks and months of the war, but even after it was liberated, it was left riddled with mines, unexploded ordnance, and booby traps. Military sappers inspect an area for mines and non-exploded shells left after Russia's invasion in Kyiv Region, Ukraine April 21, 2022.REUTERS/Mykola TymchenkoUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned in April 2022 that Russian soldiers retreating in the north at the time had left mines everywhere, creating a "complete disaster.""They are mining the whole territory. They are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed," he said in an address to the nation. "There are a lot of trip wires, a lot of other dangers."'As much damage as they can'Oleksandr, whose last name is intentionally being withheld for security reasons, joined Ukraine's State Special Transport Service, a unit under the command of the country's defense ministry, last fall and only had a few months of training before he started demining activities earlier this year — a quick turnaround given the scale of the problem.Humanitarian demining means clearing explosives from areas where active combat has ceased — like areas in northern Ukraine — so that the local population can sooner return to their normal lives, or as close to normal as possible under the circumstances. This includes demining of critical transportation infrastructure, like railways, bridges, highways, and roads, and even nuclear facilities. A sapper of the State Emergency Service inspects an area for mines and unexploded shells, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine March 21, 2023.REUTERS/Viacheslav RatynskyiSpeaking through a translator, Oleksandr detailed to Insider how his team carries out demining and the life-threatening challenges of his job. The demining process begins with the sappers talking to locals to understand the extent of the contamination and if they're dealing with Russian land mines or unexploded artillery shells.Once the sappers have this information, they move to a more technical step, which is flying drones to map unexploded ordnance on the surface. After this, the sappers start manually clearing the area with metal detectors and other equipment. Oleksandr said the crucial element in this process is to not be in a hurry and always be mindful of what's happening.Mines come in all different shapes, sizes, and lethality. Some explosives are placed in the ground and are designed to be triggered by armored vehicles or infantry soldiers, either by a pressure plate or trip wire, while others can be deployed from a distance through aircraft or artillery and may detonate without actually being touched. A sapper of the State Emergency Service carries an anti-tank mine as he inspects an area for mines and unexploded shells, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine March 21, 2023.REUTERS/Viacheslav RatynskyiOne particularly deadly Russian mining tactic in northern Ukraine was the use of booby traps by Moscow's troops.First Lieutenant Maksym Trykur, who serves in the State Special Transport Service and translated Oleksandr's comments, told Insider that Russia would plant these around everyday items, including toys, furniture, kitchen utensils, and plates. In some cases, refrigerators were rigged to blow when opened. Oleksandr also witnessed the Russians place explosives in children's books. "It doesn't provide any tactical advantage," Trykur said. "That's just trying to cause as much damage as they can."Oleksandr returned from his latest mission just under two weeks ago, where he was helping to clear the area around a railroad bridge so it was safe for civilian construction workers to rebuild parts that were destroyed during active combat. This type of work underscores why the extensive mining is such a big challenge.Mining prevents the community from resuming their lives long after active combat is over, Trykur said. Mines in a field might detonate with children playing near them, and explosives left on the road could pose a supply or logistics issue, delaying stuff like medication, food, and postal service deliveries. A police sapper sorts unexploded mine shells and weapons after return from the village of Udy, after it was liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in the Kharkiv region on September 12, 2022.REUTERS/Gleb GaranichBut the issue has global implications as well, he added. Ukraine, often referred to as Europe's breadbasket, is a crucial supplier of grain to the rest of the world, including countries in Africa and the Middle East. Mine contamination threatens the ability for farmers to actually grow their food, threatening to create a far-reaching crises. It's a problem that will stay with Ukraine for years because Russia has contaminated the country on such a massive scale, Oleksandr said. And Kyiv's sappers also lack some of the equipment necessary to be able to tackle such an immense problem, meaning they are more reliant on physical manpower.Much of the support Ukraine is receiving is focused on front-line combat. The US has provided upwards of $43 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion last year, including mine-clearing equipment and mine-resistant armored vehicles. But more is needed both on the lines and behind them.Milley, the top US general, said last month in the context of Ukraine's counteroffensive that the country's Western military backers still need to provide more support to help get rid of these death traps."So the key thing is to focus on air defense, focus on the blocking-and-tackling sort of offensive combined arms maneuver, which is artillery, as both long-range and short-range artillery, and then get in your engineers and your mine-breaching equipment," he said. "That's the kind of stuff they need. That's what they want. That's what they're asking for."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderAug 5th, 2023

Ukrainian assault commander reveals horrific encounter with one of Russia"s fake trench traps

Russia's rigged the battlefield with all sorts of terrors, and among them are deadly exploding traps, the commander told The New York Times. Ukrainian serviceman walks inside a trench on the frontline near as Russia-Ukraine war continues in New York, Donbas region, Ukraine, on July 28, 2023.Ignacio Marin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Russia has placed all kinds of obstacles in the way of Ukraine's advance. Among them are fake trenches, exploding death traps, that a commander described to The New York Times. "Our guys started jumping in the trenches and blowing up," he said. Russia is trying its damnedest to thwart Ukraine's counteroffensive, and among the threats to the Ukrainian assault are fake trenches rigged with remotely detonated mines. A commander shared details of an assault team's encounter with these deadly traps in a discussion this week with The New York Times.The Ukrainian commander, who goes by the call sign Voskres, told The Times about an offensive operation conducted last month by forces with special operations training. The mission to storm Russian positions along the front was unsuccessful, and the Ukrainians suffered heavy casualties.The mission ran into problems right from the start. Their armored vehicles were knocked out by artillery, so the Ukrainian troops had to advance on foot.When they reached the Russian lines after clearing part of a minefield along a tree line, Ukrainian forces dropped into a trench, ready for a fight."The trenches were mined," the assault commander told The Times. "Our guys started jumping in the trenches and blowing up," he said, recalling that as the Russians remotely detonated the mines that filled the trench, explosive drones attacked the survivors."It seemed like they had a drone for each person," he said. "The amount of equipment the Russians have, had we known, it was like mission impossible."A general view of trenches amid Russia and Ukraine war in Moshchun village of Kyiv, Ukraine on July 25, 2023Gian Marco Benedetto/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesThe assault commander's recollections from the recent battle are consistent with reporting on these fake trenches from Michael Kofman, a Russia expert at the at the Center for Naval Analyses who recently returned from a research trip to areas near the front lines in Ukraine, where he talked with members of the Ukrainian military about their experiences."They build out fake trenches. They have mine trenches," Kofman said of Russia in a War on the Rocks podcast discussion of the counteroffensive, explaining that they attempt to "lure Ukrainian forces into trenches that have been mined" with remote-activated mines "and then blow up the mines."When Ukraine's "forces jump into them, they have parts of trenches that are intentionally empty," he said. The Russians are actively attempting "to get Ukrainians into those trenches to then essentially blow them up."And if these explosive-laden trenches weren't trouble enough, they are far from the only threats the Ukrainians are facing. Russia has constructed a defense in depth consisting of various barriers and obstacles backed by infantry, artillery, and aviation. And they aren't the only trench traps either.Video footage said to have been recorded from the Russian side near the first line of defense, for instance, shows an anti-tank ditch swallow what is believed to have been a military vehicle.While not packed with explosives, anti-tank trenches are easily constructed barriers to armored assaults that are deep and wide and a hassle for the advancing force to clear.Even in the face of these threats though, the Ukrainians are advancing, but progress has been slow as some assaults are blunted and even repelled. It is not a fast, sweeping offensive. Instead, it is a grinding slog coming at a very high price.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 31st, 2023

Photos capture the crude cages Russian and Ukrainian crews are welding on their tanks and armor as a last-ditch defense

A retired US Army colonel said the configurations can pose a major inconvenience to soldiers operating tanks and armored vehicles. In this image released by Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service, Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with US Javelin missiles.Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP Russian and Ukrainian troops are outfitting their tanks and fighting vehicles with crude cages.  These defenses are a last-ditch efforts to defend against threats like drones and certain munitions. A retired US Army colonel said the configurations can pose a major inconvenience to soldiers. Tanks and armored vehicles are built to withstand a certain amount of enemy firepower, but they are far from invincible. Facing growing explosive threats, often from above, Russian and Ukrainian vehicle crews are constructing their own extra layer of defense.Troops on both sides of the war have outfitted heavy armor with netting-like cages in what appears to be a last-ditch effort against growing threats like anti-tank missiles, small drones, and artillery. A retired US Army colonel said the configurations are Hail-Mary attempts to keep armor crews from dying in combat, but they can pose a major inconvenience when it comes to operations."It is a psychological thing that soldiers do in combat when they want to live," Gian Gentile, a former Iraq War tank commander and the current associate director of RAND's Arroyo Center, told Insider. The fact that some troops feel the need to do this suggests an inability to counter growing threats to vehicle operations that clearly has crews concerned.Videos and photos that have circulated around social media in recent weeks show that both sides have outfitted their tanks and armored vehicles with these crudely built cages, some of which are elaborate and cover much of the exterior, while others appear to be more simplistic and almost resemble bird or batting cages. —Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 27, 2023The idea, in theory, is to create an added layer of protection against the wide range of explosives that have been used against tanks and armored vehicles over the course of Russia's roughly 17-month-long war in Ukraine.In the early days of the invasion, Kyiv's forces made great use of should-launched weapons like the American-made FGM-148 Javelin and UK-made Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) to defend against approaching tanks and armor. Later, loitering munitions, which are small drones packed with explosives that can fly around until they identify a target, entered the battlefield and began to wreak havoc. —OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) July 5, 2023More recently, both sides have used FPV (first-person view) drones and drone-dropped munitions to deal damage to each other's armor. Collectively, both sides have lost thousands of tanks, infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), and armored personnel carriers (APCs). But according to open-source intelligence site Oryx, which documents military equipment losses, Kyiv's forces have only lost a little over 1,500 pieces of heavy armor — compared to around 5,000 by Moscow's troops. A 'huge inconvenience'Improvised anti-drone armor, sometimes also referred to as a "cope cage," isn't a new phenomenon and has been observed in previous conflicts around the world. But the ones that are being spotted on the battlefield in Ukraine appear, for the most part, to look a bit more crudely made than those seen elsewhere.Their effectiveness depends on what type of explosive they're tasked with protecting against. The cages likely would not be able to stop a shoulder-launched weapon like the Javelin or NLAW, but they might make a difference against mortar rounds dropped from quadcopters or certain loitering munitions, Gentile said. In some cases, this extra protection has been added without inconveniencing the vehicle's operators. For instance, a video of a Ukrainian M109L self-propelled howitzer that circulated on social media earlier this month shows the vehicle equipped with cages on the side and attached to the turret, indicating that the gun's mobility may not have been impeded. The cages looked more thought out.—OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) July 4, 2023But videos and photos of the Russian cages tell and different story, as they appear to look more temporary and perhaps not as well planned.In one photo of a Russian T-72B tank, the cage merely appears as a roof screen, leaving its sides exposed. Other images of Russian MT-LB armored fighting vehicles show the cages appearing to look more flimsy and without much structural integrity.—Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 29, 2023—Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 29, 2023Since these cages likely provide only limited effectiveness against deadly missiles, munitions, and drones, why would soldiers feel the need to add this final layer of defense, especially if it's a hassle?They're "fundamentally" a psychological addition for troops who just want to survive and believe the cages may just help them do that, Gentile said."There is some grounding that these things may have worked at one point or another," he said, which creates this psychological idea that the cages could actually work and that it's worth putting them up there just in case.But ultimately, the cages are just a "huge inconvenience," Gentile said.Tank commanders need to be out on top of the tank monitoring for hazards to avoid driving off a bridge or getting stuck in the mud. The cages not only hinder that visibility, but they also make it more difficult for vehicle crews to enter and exit, particularly in an emergency. The cages also hamstring the vital combat mobility that's required on the battlefield by making it harder for the tanks to maneuver around tree-lines, along small trails, and through the woods, limiting their ability to retain camouflage and concealment. As a former tank commander himself, Gentile said simply that the cage "would drive me crazy."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 18th, 2023

One of Ukraine"s new, US-equipped "Storm" brigades was spotted in the east

Hopes are high that Ukraine's military can liberate more territory. But that depends on how effective their brigades are in taking and holding territory. Ukrainian soldiers fire a cannon near Bakhmut, an eastern city where fierce battles against Russian forces have been taking place, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, May 15, 2023.Libkos/AP Photo The fate of Ukraine's counter-offensive depends on how effective its brigades are in taking and holding territory. The author helped train elements of the 31st's reconnaissance battalion. They expected to be at the front of the counteroffensive. A June video showed Ukrainian armored vehicles driving across a field, targeted by artillery and mines.  This column was written by reporter Adrian Bonenberger, who trained Ukrainian units for the counteroffensive from March to May.The video is grainy. It cuts from shot to shot of distant armor driving in single file across a field, hitting mines and getting struck by artillery. Watching it, my stomach twisted into a knot. As I understood it, the video had been recorded by Russian drones. It claimed to prove that the Ukrainian counteroffensive for which so many had such high hopes was foundering.A failed counteroffensive was bad enough. But there was another reason I viewed the video with trepidation. The accompanying description claimed that one of the units involved in the fighting was Ukraine's 31st Separate Mechanized Brigade — that dozens of vehicles had been destroyed. Russia had claimed as many as 1,500 Ukrainian troops were killed in the early part of the counteroffensive.For two weeks at the end of April and beginning of May, I helped train elements of the 31st's reconnaissance battalion. They expected to be at the front of the counteroffensive.The brigade, fitted out with a variety of U.S.-supplied equipment including MaxxPro mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPs, was created this year. Its purpose was to take part in Ukraine's counteroffensive. My portion was a company that was itself part of a reconnaissance battalion. The soldiers were to be among the first on the attack in its sector.When they arrived in the training area where I was living with and training elements of another Ukrainian unit at the end of April, the soldiers of the 31st had already received individual training with weapons and equipment. Some had been soldiers years before. Many were in their 40s, or older. About a dozen appeared to be in their late 50s.As a unit, the 31st was not prepared to fight when we started training.Placed on the back foot by Russia's invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, Ukraine has been locked in a bitter struggle with Russia's military ever since. The initiative has swung back and forth between Ukraine and Russia, with Russia seizing large swaths of territory at the outset, and Ukraine returning a good portion of the land to its control over the course of the summer and autumn of 2022. Most recently, Ukraine pulled back from the city of Bakhmut, a strategically inconsequential but symbolically significant battle in which tens of thousands of Russians and Ukrainians lost their lives.Long awaited and hoped-for, a major operation by Ukraine's Ministry of Defence, involving at least a dozen units and tens of thousands of soldiers, is currently unfolding in the country's north, east and southeast. Hopes are high that the military can liberate more territory. But that depends on how effective the brigades are in taking and holding territory.Ukraine's MoD has issued cryptic and contradictory messages on social media, with some saying that the counteroffensive is happening, others that it began a week or more earlier, and others still that it has yet to begin in earnest.That early video of the fighting that showed the battlefield — and potentially attacks on the 31st — was shared on June 5 via Telegram by Russians, and subsequently shared on Twitter. It showed Ukrainian armored vehicles driving across a field targeted by what appeared to be artillery and mines. Russia claimed to have destroyed a number of vehicles, and that the remainder had been driven back.Wondering whether the units were from the 31st, or could have been, I reached out to sources in Ukraine. One of them confirmed that the unit engaged was, in fact, the unit that I had trained, reconnaissance soldiers with the 31st Separate Mechanized Brigade. On June 6, the source claimed that the unit had lost one MRAP in the engagement and that fighting was ongoing.In war, both sides tend to claim that the enemy is exaggerating its casualties. I was relieved to hear that the unit had suffered less than I feared at first. But more heavy fighting was still ahead for them, and the other brigades taking part in the counteroffensive.When I was training them, I was not sure where the 31st would go. In late April or early May, Bakhmut still seemed as though it could be a possible destination. I had some indication that the recon elements might be used for more than finding the enemy in maneuver war. I wasn't sure whether that was a good thing or not. It's always better to use soldiers according to the tasks they're trained for. Training units at the squad and platoon level in urban movement, and close-quarters battle, or CQB, I had the impression some of them might be used to assault, instead of to reconnoiter.CQB is a very difficult skill to master — perhaps the most difficult, alongside those dealing with trench lines or bunkers. A week of training is not sufficient to do anything more than familiarization with the principles. Elite units in the U.S. dedicate much of their time and energy to training for specific CQB scenarios, constructing replicas of buildings they expect to encounter, and training on them with live-fire rounds for weeks.This unit, elements of a reconnaissance battalion, expected to be entering villages and possibly larger urban areas, and wanted to know how to clear buildings safely if necessary. They were also not thrilled about using MRAPs in reconnaissance, and had concerns about the vehicle's survivability and tall profile.By the time we finished training together — I left on May 11 — the battalion was capable of carrying out missions at the squad level, and had some experience as platoons. It was learning company- and battalion-level logistics and coordination, things that are not simple to perform for seasoned groups, and challenging under the best circumstances. In the ensuing two weeks, before they moved forward to their positions and began the counteroffensive, they continued to make progress.When I left, it was with a sense of worry for the Ukrainians who would soon be at the front of Russian guns, mixed with admiration for their commitment to victory and stoic attitude. There was no question that the unit had come much closer to being capable of offensive operations than when it started.The offensive is finally underway, and it looks as though the new units that were mustered mere months ago are making progress against Russia's defensive lines.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 13th, 2023

Ukraine posts video of rare drone-on-drone warfare where it slams its own unmanned aircraft into a Russian one

Drones are ubiquitous in Russia's war in Ukraine — but a video posted by Ukraine's SBU was unusual in showing one drone attacking another. A Ukrainian drone pursuing a second drone, identified as Russian by Ukraine's SBU security service, in a still from a video published in May 2023.SBU Video posted by Ukraine's security agency showed an odd facet of drone warfare. Drones are everywhere in Ukraine, but mainly focus on ground targets. This clip showed a Ukrainian drone smashing into an enemy drone in flight. Ukraine's security services posted a video clip showing a rare drone-on-drone encounter in its conflict with Russia.Drone warfare has been a mainstay of the war. Both sides have used drones for reconnaissance, enhanced targeting, and directly as weapons of war.However, drones rarely fight each other — mostly being concerned with higher-value targets on the ground, like enemy soldiers, troops, or supply caches.A video posted Wednesday by Ukraine's internal security service, the SBU, deviated from that norm.In the clip below, from about 10 seconds in, a Ukrainian drone can be seen smashing right into another one, which the video describes as belonging to the enemy.The rest of the video shows more conventional drone operations, aimed at what appear to be Russian military supply trucks. It didn't give dates or locations for any of the attacks.The SBU said the drones used were single-use models — also known as "suicide" drones, which explode on impact.Most of the targets seem unaware the drone is about to strike. At around 30 seconds, two soldiers with a stationary vehicle do seem to notice, and dive for cover before the stream cuts out.A Ukrainian exploding drone closes in on a truck as two people dive for cover in a video published in May 2023 by Ukraine's SBU security agency. Insider highlighted the people with red circles.SBU/InsiderJames Patton Rogers, a University of Southern Denmark war-studies professor and drone expert, called Russia's invasion "one of the world's first drone vs. drone conflicts" — a description which appears to have been literally borne out in the video. Drones — more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs — have had unprecedented uptake on the battlefield since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It means that the technology is being exploited in almost unheard-of ways — even, in some apparent instances, of surrender being mediated via drone.A report released last week by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said that Ukraine is losing drones at a rate of 10,000 a month, showing electronic warfare to be among the strongest capabilities of the Russian army. Patton Rogers said the rate of losses reflects the sheer scale at which the technology is in use, and added that Ukraine is developing "its own resilient drone systems to fill this gap in capacity."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 26th, 2023

Details in the drone incident the Kremlin says aimed to assassinate Putin "don"t quite add up." Experts have 3 theories on what happened.

One drone expert noted that "it seems strange" that the unmanned aircraft managed to fly so close to the Kremlin complex. Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on April 6, 2023.Getty Images Russia claimed Wednesday that Ukraine tried to assassinate Putin with a drone attack at the Kremlin. Experts say there are some things that "don't quite add up." They came up with three theories on what might have happened based on what little is known. Security cameras captured striking footage of two drones, one of which can be seen exploding on video, above the hardened Kremlin citadel this week.Russian officials claimed the overnight drone incident was an attempt by Kyiv to assassinate its leader, but with little evidence linking it to the drones. Ukraine says it wasn't them. So who was responsible?In a war rife with propaganda, experts told Insider that they see hallmarks of Ukraine's long-range drone attacks and also of Russia's staged attempts to justify dangerous escalations to try to break the military stalemate. If it was a Ukrainian attack, it would suggest its leaders risked a major escalation with a poorly executed plan, with too few explosives and Putin not there anyway. And then there's the questions about how the drones got so close to the seat of power in one of the world's most defended capitols. There are a number of things in this mystery that still don't make sense or simply don't add up.Video from the incident shows one of the drones explode and rain down flaming debris over the Kremlin, potentially after being intercepted by Russian defenses. It also shows what appears to be two people on the roof of the building for an unexplained purpose.—Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) May 3, 2023Blaming Ukraine, the Kremlin characterized the incident Wednesday as a "planned terrorist act and an attempt on the president's life," though there was no actual threat to Putin, given that he was not there at the time. The Kremlin said Russia "reserves the right to take retaliatory measures," but since Russia is already waging war in Ukraine and striking its population centers with long-range missiles, it is unclear what how Moscow might escalate.Ukraine denied any involvement in the strike, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying: "We don't attack Putin or Moscow." But experts told Insider that despite bold statements from both countries, much remains uncertain. "There is a lot we still don't know about this strike," said Samuel Bendett, a Center for Naval Analyses expert on Russian defense and drones. James Patton Rogers, a military historian and adviser to NATO on drones and warfare, said that "there's a few things that don't quite add up in this situation."Bendett, for instance, noted that "it seems strange" that the unmanned aircraft managed to fly so close to the Kremlin complex, seemingly evading most of Moscow's layered air defenses. These defenses, especially for critical targets like the Kremlin, have been bolstered since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but, that being said, questions have come up about Russian force protection capabilities.Emphasizing that their thoughts at this stage are highly speculative at best, the experts outlined three possible scenarios that could explain Wednesday's dramatic events in the Russian capital.A "No Drone Zone" sign sits just off the Kremlin in central Moscow as it prohibits unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) flying over the area, on May 3, 2023.NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty ImagesScenario 1: Ukraine sends a warningFor starters, there's the possibility Ukraine was behind the attack, as the Russians claim. They certainly have ample motive and assets.Ukraine has previously denied activities in Russia or on Russian-occupied territory only to later acknowledge involvement, such as when its forces struck Russian military targets in Crimea last summer. And though they didn't claim responsibility, there have also been strikes on military bases deep in Russian territory attributed to Ukraine.So Ukraine's denial of responsibility is being taken with a grain of salt by some observers."One explanation could be that it was launched by Ukraine to demonstrate the increased ability to launch deep precision strikes at one of the world's most secure and reinforced targets," wrote Patton Rogers on Twitter. The type of drone used is still an open question, but none of potential models experts flagged for Insider rule Ukraine out as a suspect. Dr. Marina Miron, a research fellow at the Centre for Military Ethics at King's College London, said, based on observing its flight pattern in the video, that it could be a small Chinese-made quadcopter, a fairly ubiquitous system. Bendett identified other possibilities as the Chinese-made Mugin-5 or the Ukrainian PD-1.Both Patton Rogers and Bendett told Insider that it is feasible the drone used could be the UJ-22, a fixed-wing drone often used by Ukrainian forces. Bendett said the "UJ-22 has a long range and can potentially reach Moscow."The UJ-22 is capable of autonomously flying around 500 miles towards a pre-set target. Its ability to fly comparatively low, and slowly, would potentially help it evade some radar, Patton Rogers said. Social media imagery suggests that the same model was used in an attempted drone strike on a Gazprom site near Moscow in February, as The Guardian reported at the time. "One hypothesis — and it is a hypothesis because we don't know the details — could be that that strike a couple of months ago has allowed Ukraine to see what the first, or indeed the second layer of air defense for Russia consists of," Patton Rogers told Insider. But even if Ukraine were behind it, the likelihood of it being a serious attempt on Putin's life seems small, he said. "If it was truly an assassination attempt as opposed to a show of strength, then the payload seems rather small from the explosions that we've seen," Patton Rogers said, pointing to the relatively small blast seen in the video, suggesting its explosive payload was likely too small to penetrate a reinforced building. "It would be odd to send in just one or two of these systems and to give away the element of surprise without knowing exactly where Putin was," he added. Miron agreed that this would likely be more of a signal — to say that "even the Kremlin is vulnerable" after Russia has repeatedly bombarded Ukraine."You could interpret it as a sort of warning," she said, noting that "next time it might be more explosive, or a swarm of drones."Russian President Vladimir Putin waves in a village outside of Pskov, Russia, on September 11, 2021.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty ImagesScenario 2: Russia was behind itThe signs are also there: Putin was never at risk. The iconic building suffered minimal damage. And politicians immediately seized on this to argue that Russia itself is under attack.Patton Rogers told Insider that it's possible the strike and the accompanying rhetoric was orchestrated by Russia to justify a possible assassination attack on Ukraine's Zelenskyy.Russia has engaged in so-called false flag actions to justify military action, and Russian rhetoric and actions during and just before the start of the Ukraine war repeatedly set off alarm bells abroad. Casting doubt on Russia's accusations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Russian allegations often have to be taken with "a very large shaker of salt."Claiming that Ukraine tried to assassinate Putin would potentially "open up a new norm in the war," Patton Rogers said. To be sure, Russia has repeatedly tried — and failed — to capture or eliminate Zelenskyy since the war started more than a year ago, though perhaps Russia now plans to pursue a decapitation strategy more aggressively.Presidential adviser Mikhail Podolyak told local media last year that the Ukrainian leader had survived more than a dozen assassination attempts. Senior US officials, including CIA Director Bill Burns, were also aware of these plots. That doesn't rule out a false-flag operation, but it may mean a different motive. US intelligence said last year that a group of Russian operatives were conducting a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine, which would offer Moscow potential justification to mobilize more troops. On Twitter Wednesday, presidential adviser Podolyak said "Russia is clearly preparing a large-scale terrorist attack."Another potential motivation would be to bolster popular support for the war, Miron said. "Russia needs some sort of justification for why they are continuing to stay in Ukraine," she said. "And so this has a message for the domestic populace to say, 'Look how dangerous Ukraine is. They're even trying to kill Putin.'"A "No Drone Zone" sign in Zaryadye park, a short distance from the Kremlin in central Moscow on March 15, 2023.NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty ImagesScenario 3: The work of anti-Putin Russians"A third option could be that this has nothing to do with the Ukrainian military at all," said Patton Rogers, raising the possibility that dissident groups in Russia were responsible. Polodyak made pretty much this exact claim in a tweet, saying the attack "can only indicate the guerilla activities of local resistance forces. As you know, drones can be bought at any military store."There have been multiple reports of attacks on critical infrastructure and assassination attempts throughout Russia's war in Ukraine, some of which have been claimed by various dissident groups. Russia's mobilization of hundreds of thousands of troops last fall catalyzed resistance to Putin's regime, but most of their attacks have come against mobilization centers run by the Russian defense ministry.Patton Rogers said he hasn't "seen any indication" that such groups have the capacity to use drones in their attacks. "So that would be a leap of imagination based on the empirical data that we have at this moment in time," he said. Miron also acknowledged this possibility but pointed out that Moscow is highly secure with facial recognition cameras, which would be a strong deterrent for a local trying to launch and control a strike drone, better yet, two of them."Such an act would mean that the probability of this person being caught would be very, very high," she said. "I guess we'll never know the truth," Miron concluded. "Maybe if documents get declassified in a hundred years, then we'll know what exactly happened."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 3rd, 2023

Russia"s military has been preparing for a drone-filled battlefield, and even its cooks are being trained to shoot them down

The Russian military has been tinkering with drones for years, and counter-drone training "is now ubiquitous," one expert said. A Russian army chef with officers at the Vostok 2018 exercise in Russia's Far East in September 2018.MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images The spread of drones on the battlefield in Ukraine is one of the most notable features of the war. Russia's military has been experimenting with drones in a variety of combat roles for years. Counter-drone training has also become common throughout the Russian military. Russia's attack on Ukraine last year kicked off Europe's biggest conflict since World War II, one in which two modern militaries have deployed new weaponry at an unprecedented scale.As such, the fighting in Ukraine has introduced the world to new technologies that are upending longstanding military thinking. Perhaps the most notable development is the widespread use of drones.Both sides have employed drones of all sizes and capabilities — both military- and commercially designed models — for a variety of operations. Many drones conduct aerial reconnaissance and provide vital information to troops on the ground or relay coordinates for artillery fire.Other drones carry weapons, ranging from small grenade- and mortar-size munitions to harass infantry and mechanized forces to missiles and rockets for attacks on vehicles and fortifications, or are weapons themselves.Almost every Ukrainian unit is using tactical drones in some way, but the Russian military has also been preparing for a drone-filled battlefield, and its troops — from the frontlines to rear areas — are being trained to use them and to shoot them down.Countering enemy dronesRussian airborne troops use an Orlan-10 drone during an exercise in June 2018.Andrey Rusov/Russian Defense Ministry via Mil.ruRussian forces have been tinkering with drones — more formally called unmanned aerial systems or vehicles — for some time. They used them in Syria and employed them in Ukraine following Moscow's intervention there in 2015.Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military's general staff, said in 2017 that combat is now "unthinkable without drones — they are used by gunners, scouts, pilots — everyone."Having used drones and seen drones used with increasing frequency, the Russian military has also expanded its counter-drone training. The threat is now considered so widespread that most Russian troops, regardless of military specialty, are getting instruction in spotting and dealing with drones."Counter-UAS training is now ubiquitous across the entire military. In fact, everyone in Russian military uniform — whether they're a soldier or a cook or a medic or whoever — has to know how to deal with small drones," Samuel Bendett, an expert on Russian military technology at CNA, a research organization, said during a February episode of the Modern War Institute's Urban Warfare Project Podcast.Such training is now "a requirement," Bendett said. "So soldiers are trained how to shoot down small quadcopters, small UAVs that can potentially penetrate Russian defenses."A Ukrainian serviceman with a drone on the outskirts of Bakhmut in December.Sameer Al-Doumy/Getty ImagesTroops shooting down aircraft is nothing new — British sailors reportedly brought down Argentine jets with small-arms fire during the Falklands War in 1982 — but counter-UAS training for Russian troops has frequently been part of broader electronic-warfare training."Every time we read about Russia's electronic-warfare training or a drill, we see the phrase 'counter-UAV training'" because defending against incoming drones and countering electronic-warfare countermeasures "are becoming one in the same," Bendett said.Russian forces are also developing their own unmanned aerial and ground vehicles with robust countermeasures for electronic-warfare attacks, such as jamming, Bendett added.Electronic warfare has been prevalent in Ukraine. Early in the war, Russian electronic-warfare capabilities frequently clashed with each other — which Western experts called "electronic fratricide" — but their performance has improved and they appear to have had an effect on Ukraine's weapons, including those provided by the West.Recently leaked US Defense Department intelligence documents indicate that Russian troops have used GPS jamming to counter US-provided smart bombs known as Joint Direct Attack Munitions, causing them not to detonate or to miss their targets.Attack vs. defenseA "No Drone Zone" sign in a park near the Kremlin in Moscow in March.NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty ImagesThe Russian military has used its unmanned aerial systems to give the Ukrainians a hard time by surveilling and attacking Ukrainian troops and with strikes on civilian targets, especially energy infrastructure.In recent months, Russian forces have made prolific use of Iranian-made Shahed-136 loitering munitions to target Ukraine's critical infrastructure and urban centers.Ukraine's military has been bolstering its drone defenses throughout the war, as shown in the Western military aid being sent to Kyiv. The US's latest package of security aid includes 30mm gun trucks designed to shoot down drones as well as mobile anti-drone laser-guided rocket systems.Despite having kinetic and electronic-warfare countermeasures to take out Russian drones, Ukraine still faces a difficult challenge. Russia's drones, especially its Iranian-made loitering munitions, often used in large numbers and are cheaper than many of Ukraine's advanced air-defense weapons, like surface-to-air missiles.The leaked US intelligence documents, which were composed in February, show that Ukraine's stocks of those missiles are dwindling. Western countries have supplied Kyiv with more missiles, but Russia's constant attacks mean Ukraine's military may increasingly face a difficult decision between trying to destroy drones or saving its ammo for Russian missiles and aircraft that can do more damage.Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is working toward a master's degree in strategy and cybersecurity at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 26th, 2023