Ukraine set to inflict devastating damage on Russia as Kyiv braces for winter

Ukraine is preparing to launch a “devastating” operation on Russia during the winter months, a leading member of the country’s military said.

During the colder months of 2022, the war in Ukraine saw a slowdown, with fewer clashes and offensives from both sides.

But this year will be different, Brigadier General Serhiy Baranov, the chief of the military unit overseeing drone operations, has pledged, as he said Kyiv intends to use unmanned vehicles to inflict damage on its enemy when the terrain conditions won’t allow ground troops to fight.

The official told the Independent: “We intend to capitalise on the experience we have gained over the previous years and use drones to inflict a devastating effect on the Russians when the fighting will be much more static [this winter].

“We are confident that we have some of the best and most experienced drone pilots in the world.”

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In recent months, drones have become an essential war instrument for both Russians and Ukrainians.

Since the spring, Kyiv achieved important military successes using these weapons.

In April, several oil tanks were destroyed in Sevastopol, a major city in Crimea.

In August, Ukrainian sea drones attacked the port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea with naval drones and seriously damaged the landing ship Olenegorsky Gornyak.

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Several drone incursions also took place on the internationally recognised Russian territory, with many unmanned vehicles reaching Moscow’s financial district and the city’s airport.

While the Kremlin placed the blame for these attacks on Kyiv, the Ukrainian government has rarely claimed responsibility for operations beyond its borders.

Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, remains one of the major targets of Ukraine, General Baranov said.

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This is both because Kyiv wants to stress the peninsula is part of Ukraine and because it is strategically important, given it links mainland Russia to frontline troops and provides them with essentials.

General Baranov said: “The Russians have tried to concentrate ammunition, equipment and personnel. The build-up is to try and make this appear as though it is Russian territory. It is not. We are aggressively fighting against this.”

In late September, Volodymyr Zelensky’s aide Mykhailo Podolyak also said one of Ukraine’s main goals was to destroy the Black Sea Fleet and damage logistics infrastructure in Crimea – including Kerch Bridge, food, ammunition and oil deposits.

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