An the face of repeated drone attacks on Ukrainian cities in recent days, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns against a war of attrition against Russia. The Russian side obviously wants to wear down the people of Ukraine and their defenders in the long run, said Zelenskyj in his daily video address on Monday evening. But even before the expected arrival of new “Kamikaze” drones, there was an air alert on the Russian-occupied Crimea peninsula: Ukrainian drones were sighted there over the strategically important port of Sevastopol and fired upon.
“We have information that Russia is planning a long-term attack by Shahed drones,” Zelensky said, referring to the mass deployment of Iranian-made flying robots. Russia wants to achieve attrition, “the exhaustion of our people, our air defense, our energy”. The Russian government wants to show its compatriots that everything is going according to plan. “But we must and will do everything we can to ensure that this goal of the terrorists fails like all the others.”
Air defense in Russian-occupied Crimea fends off drones
The Russian military uses so-called kamikaze drones on a large scale, which are equipped with explosives and at the end of their flight fall vertically on their target. The relatively slow and noisy drones are an easy target for anti-aircraft defenses, but their sheer numbers and constant close surveillance of the airspace pose a major challenge for Ukraine’s air defenses. Then there is the cost factor – a drone made from cheap parts has to be shot down with expensive weapon systems.
“Only two days have passed since the beginning of the year, and already the number of drones shot down over Ukraine has exceeded 80,” said Zelenskyy. The Russian military mainly uses the drones to damage the energy grid by attacking urban infrastructure.
After days of approaches by unmanned missiles to Ukrainian cities, the air defenses of the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula fought Ukrainian drones on Monday evening. According to a report by the Russian state agency TASS, two flying robots were shot down over the strategically important port of Sevastopol. “Our air defense continued to repel the attacks,” Moscow-appointed governor Mikhail Rasvozhayev was quoted as saying. The information provided by both sides could not be independently verified.
Sevastopol is the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The port has been the target of Ukrainian drone attacks on several occasions, most recently on December 30. In October, the Ukrainian military used drone boats loaded with explosives against the Russian fleet near Sevastopol. There are conflicting statements from both sides about their effect.
Expert: Russian drone strikes deliberately at night
According to an expert, the Russian attacks with “kamikaze drones” are deliberately flown at night and along the Dnipro River. “Logically, not everything is visible in the sky at night,” Colonel Vladislav Zelesnyov told the Ukrainian agency RBK-Ukraina on Monday. The flight route from the south along the Dnipro was also chosen in order to avoid the Ukrainian air defenses if possible.