Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. Since then the scale of human tragedy and losses of soldiers on both sides has been immense.
Approximately 9,400 Ukrainian civilians have been killed according to some counts, in addition to 13,000 Ukrainian troops. Russia is reported to have lost 25,000 fighters, although some place the number much higher.
So far the fighting has been fierce and unpredictable, centering around the eastern Donbas region and southern cities like Kherson. The war has also included frequent Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid and civilian infrastructure.
Now Ukraine is fighting back inside Russia, with reports that its drones have hit several targets inside Russian territory. This marks a big moment in the ongoing war.
Ukraine Hits Russia Twice
According to reports, Ukraine first struck Russia on Dec. 5 using makeshift cruise missiles via drones.
These were TU-141 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with GPS systems and customized war heads. This use of a recon drone to turn it basically into a cruise missile allowed Ukraine to reportedly fly 600 miles into Russian territory and hit two Russian airfields deep inside Russia.
Experts say Ukraine’s new attack drones may have a range of up to 1,000 kilometers, which would be a massive new air capability for Kiev.
The day following this attack, Ukraine hit again, blowing up an area of an airport in southern Russia’s Kursk near the Ukraine border and hitting a factory 50 miles away from the Ukraine border inside Russia.
Russia has been raining missiles down on Ukraine, but doesn’t like getting a taste of its own medicine and has responded with fury to Ukraine’s counter attacks.
If the new Ukrainian drones indeed have a range of 1000km then all Russian positions from the Finnish border down to Dagestan are in range. Even as deep as Kazan can be hit.
That is definitely a game changer.#Ukraine #Russia pic.twitter.com/hndOZQOPeT
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) December 5, 2022
Zelensky Praises Ukrainian Troops
Traveling to the east of the country in Donetsk, Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky praised Ukrainian troops, calling them “real heroes” and saying their parents should be proud.
Ukraine has not taken official responsibility for the four drone strikes in the past several days at this point, preferring to keep its hand and full potential capabilities hidden.
Nonetheless, top Zelensky aide Mikhail Podalyak too shots at Moscow online on social media saying that “UFOs” must be coming back to Russia in payback for their incursions into Ukrainian airspace.
Russia is now undoubtedly worried about the potential for bases deep inside its territory to get hit and one of the airfields hit by Ukrainian drones had nuclear-capable bombers on it. Three Russian troops were killed in the attack as well.
DIY CRUISE MISSILES: On 5 DEC, Ukraine is believed to have used modified Soviet-era recon drones to attack he Engels-2 and Dyagilevo airbases in Russia. Tu-141s UAVs, fitted with updated GPS navigation systems and improvised warheads, flew 600 miles to hit these targets. pic.twitter.com/jkRfA8z6Xk
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) December 6, 2022
What Does This Mean For the War?
Ukraine says part of why it hit the airfields was to stop Russia’s nuke-ready long distance bombers that have hit its forces and people.
The other site hit Dec. 5 was a fuel supply depot that keeps Russian jets flying.
This marks a significant escalation of the war and unfortunately the chance of this conflict going nuclear just got higher.
This article appeared in StatesmanPost and has been published here with permission.