Strategic SitRep 12/18

Ukraine/Russia Drone Strikes Increase,

Issue # 24

Drone Warfare Escalates: Ukraine and Russia Intensify Aerial Assaults Amidst Rising Tensions

In the latest developments in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, both nations intensified their use of drone warfare this past Sunday. Ukraine's air force successfully neutralized 20 Russian drones and a cruise missile, with a significant portion of this action occurring over the southern region of Odesa. Tragically, debris from one of these drones ignited a fire in a residential area, resulting in one casualty.

Concurrently, the Russian defense ministry reported thwarting 35 drones launched by Ukraine, focusing their defensive efforts in the Lipetsk, Volgograd, and Rostov regions. Details regarding the specific targets or any resultant damage remain undisclosed.

Adding to these events, Ukrainianska Pravda, citing anonymous sources, disclosed that Ukraine's attack was directed at the Russian Morozovsk airfield in the Rostov region. This operation was reportedly a collaborative effort between Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) and its Armed Forces. Vasily Golubev, Rostov's regional governor, affirmed that Russian air defense successfully repelled a significant drone attack in the Morozovsk and Kamensk areas, neutralizing most of the incoming drones.

Despite official denials from both Moscow and Kyiv about targeting civilians, there have been numerous instances where each side has struck vital military infrastructure of the other. This escalation in drone attacks is part of a continuing pattern, following Ukraine's claim of shooting down 30 Russian drones on Saturday and Russia's assertion of downing 26 Ukrainian drones over Crimea on Friday.

So, what does this mean? The increased use of drones by both Ukraine and Russia signifies a strategic shift in their military tactics, emphasizing remote and technological warfare. This escalation reflects the ongoing intensity of the conflict and the continuous innovation in warfare methods by both sides. The impact on civilian areas and infrastructure, despite official denials, remains a concerning aspect of these developments.

Aerial Tragedy: Drone Footage Reveals Stark Reality of Russian Casualties Near Avdiivka

Recent aerial footage from a Ukrainian military drone near the village of Stepove, just north of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, reveals the harrowing extent of casualties amidst Russia's ongoing military advancement. This video, captured earlier in the month by Ukraine’s 110th Mechanised Brigade, presents a stark and devastating view of the conflict's toll.

The footage depicts a landscape deeply scarred by war. Around 150 bodies, primarily dressed in Russian military uniforms, are strewn across the terrain, many seeking cover along tree lines. Stepove itself appears as a shattered remnant of its former self, with its structures reduced to ruins. The surrounding landscape, once marked by rows of trees and farm fields, now bears the grim imprint of artillery shellings and drone-dropped grenades. The BUAR unit of the Ukrainian brigade indicated that some of the deceased might be Ukrainian soldiers.

This grim visual account, shot on December 6, spans two separate locations between Stepove and nearby railway tracks. Notably, many of the bodies had been lying there for weeks. The Associated Press confirmed the authenticity and location of this footage by cross-referencing it with maps and additional drone videos from the 47th Mechanised Brigade, taken six days after the initial recording.

Since October, Russian forces have been engaged in an offensive to capture Avdiivka. Despite some progress, Western analysts note that this operation has led to a significant number of Russian casualties. This conflict, initiated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February last year, represents the largest European conflict since World War II.

So what does this mean? The drone footage underscores the heavy human cost of the ongoing conflict, particularly for Russian forces in this segment of the battle. It highlights the brutal reality of modern warfare, where drone technology not only plays a role in combat but also in revealing the scale of devastation and loss. The situation in Avdiivka and its surroundings is a stark reminder of the ongoing severity and human impact of the war in Ukraine.