Yesterday I reader emailed me telling me that the Ukronazis had used a Bayraktar attack drone against the LDNR. I replied that I doubted it very much because as far as I knew, the Turks had not yet finished to built the Bayraktars locally. Apparently, I was wrong and the Ukronazis also purchased 12 Bayraktars off the shelf, ready to use.
Now the Ukrainian propaganda is filled with triumphant statements about how effective this strike was and how Russia could not do anything about the Bayraktar: not detect it, not jam it and not shoot it down.
Reports from the LDNR also confirm numerous artillery strikes on the LDNR.
What does that all mean?
This is yet again a desperate attempt by Kiev to force the Russians to openly intervene. See here for my previous analysis.
How much of a military difference do these Bayraktars really make?
Actually, in military terms – zero: we know that in both Syria and Nagorno-Karabach the Russians shot down these drones in huge numbers, they even spoke of a “Bayraktars rainfall”: some were fried in the air, others shot down, and some even landed by Russian forces. These drones are not hard to detect (their RCS is not particularly low) and they are slow. Finally, they depend on a datalink. Hence their failure in both Karabkh and Syria as soon as the Russians got involved.
Politically, however, this is a very big deal.
First, when the news of the delivery of these drones was made public, the representatives of the LDNR said that they were ready and that they had counter-measures prepared. This latest strike, if confirmed, begs the question of what really happened and whether the LDNR officials showed some rather irresponsible over-confidence (LDNR forces do not have the kind of EW capabilities Russia does).
Second, the Russian themselves should have detected this flight and reacted (they probably did). Nobody knows for sure if they did and, if they did, why they did not try to protect the LDNR (at least with EW capabilities). Maybe the Russians are now looking for a pretext to get more involved, not as much as the US/EU would want, but enough to increase the LDNR capabilities in preparation for the future, probably inevitable, Russian intervention in the eastern Ukraine?
Still, whatever may be the case, this strike will force both the LDNR and Russia to do something.
Officially Bayraktar was not used as part of an offensive, it was a single strike on a single artillery positions.
However, Ukrainian forces did enter the “grey zone” between the LDNR and the Ukronazis forces and have captured a small village whose population includes Russian citizens. That is a direct violation of all the terms of the ceasefire.
Worse, there are reports of a SECOND such Bayraktar attack on an oil storage facility.
Needless to say, the OSCE monitors have noticed nothing and ditto from the collective West.
The Ukrainian plan is to acquire 50 such Bayraktars. So unless Russia does something they will repeat and escalate.
The Ukies have nothing to lose (they have no energy for the winter, there are protests and riots about this, the country is deindustrialzed and COVID is devastating their crumbling medical capabilities, and Ze is deeply unpopular).
Russian options include:
- Best option: let the LDNR deal with this problem with only covert assistance.
- Use EW systems to destroy or even land these Bayraktars (they did that 15 times in Armenia)
- Shoot down the Bayraktars, from the ground or from the air
I do not think that Russia can ignore that, so I expect a Russian response in the very near future.
I personally would urge them to declare a no-fly zone over the LDNR, supported by an EW “cupola” over the LDNR, just like what the Russians did on northern Syria. Second, Russia should declare that any military aircraft, manned or not, appearing to be closing in to attack the LDNR will be shot down before it gets within striking range (a single MiG-31BM on combat air patrol near the LDNR/Russia border can achieve this). The last line of defense would be Russian air defenses which can easily protect the LDNR airspace.
Yes, if Russia does that, she will be blamed for starting a war, but what other option does she have but to take action?