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27 Aug, 2023 20:51

West enabling Ukrainian attacks on Russian civilian targets – The Economist

Kiev’s drone program depends on Western-provided intelligence to circumvent Russian defenses, the British news magazine has reported
West enabling Ukrainian attacks on Russian civilian targets – The Economist

Ukraine relies on Western intelligence and satellite surveillance to guide its drones toward targets within Russia, The Economist reported on Sunday. The report backs up Moscow’s claims that the West is complicit in these “terrorist” strikes.

Russia’s extensive air defense and electronic warfare capacity mean that Ukrainian drone operators often need outside help to hit targets deep inside Russia, The Economist reported, citing anonymous sources within Ukraine’s multiple drone programs. This assistance includes “intelligence (often from Western partners) about radars, electronic warfare, and air-defense assets,” the report stated.

Feedback on the success of a strike is compiled from satellites, the report noted. Ukraine has only a single surveillance satellite, meaning that any imagery collected in between its 15 daily orbits is likely provided by Western satellites.

While Ukraine often attempts to hit military targets within Russia, many of its strikes are focused on civilian infrastructure and residential areas. In the most recent incident, a small drone slammed into an apartment block in the city of Kursk, shattering windows but leaving nobody injured. Successive waves of drone attacks have targeted Moscow’s central business district in recent weeks, and although the strikes on the capital have not killed anyone, an attack on the border region of Belgorod earlier this week left three people dead.

Moscow has previously accused Ukraine’s Western backers of complicity in these “terrorist strikes.” Speaking after a small drone hit the Kremlin in May, government spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated: “We know very well that decisions about such actions, about such terrorist attacks, are made not in Kiev but in Washington." Moscow has also accused British and American special forces of assisting Kiev’s recent missile attacks on the Crimean Bridge.

According to Peskov, Moscow views the attacks as “acts of desperation,” carried out to compensate for Ukraine’s failures on the battlefield. The strikes are viewed similarly in the West, the New York Times reported on Friday. Citing US officials, the newspaper said that the drone operations are intended “to bolster the morale of Ukraine’s population and troops,” and show that Kiev “can strike back” amid its failing counteroffensive.