Russia launches night raids in Ukrainian Donbass

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Russia is trying to take control of Ukrainian positions in the disputed Donbass region by carrying out night raids, two Ukrainian sources said. Foreign Policeleaving Ukraine desperate for night-vision drones to launch counterattacks.

The use of more night raids, sometimes including Russian special forces, the sources say, is a sign that the Kremlin is increasingly trying to use its numerical advantage over Kyiv as casualties mount for both. parts of the flatter terrain of the eastern part of the country. A senior US defense official speaking to reporters on Monday described the battle in Donbass as “a real firefight” which has already seen Ukraine deploy 74 of the 90 US-supplied M777 howitzer artillery units. United.

“We need a lot of drones, including strike and thermal imaging drones, because a lot is happening at night,” said Tymofiy Mylovanov, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and a former economy minister. . “Russia strikes back at night, and sometimes we need it.” He said Ukraine was unable to retaliate without its own night vision capabilities.

Russia is trying to take control of Ukrainian positions in the disputed Donbass region by carrying out night raids, two Ukrainian sources said. Foreign Policeleaving Ukraine desperate for night-vision drones to launch counterattacks.

The use of more night raids, sometimes including Russian special forces, the sources say, is a sign that the Kremlin is increasingly trying to use its numerical advantage over Kyiv as casualties mount for both. parts of the flatter terrain of the eastern part of the country. A senior US defense official speaking to reporters on Monday described the battle in Donbass as “a real firefight” which has already seen Ukraine deploy 74 of the 90 US-supplied M777 howitzer artillery units. United.

“We need a lot of drones, including strike and thermal imaging drones, because a lot is happening at night,” said Tymofiy Mylovanov, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and a former economy minister. . “Russia strikes back at night, and sometimes we need it.” He said Ukraine was unable to retaliate without its own night vision capabilities.

Mylovanov said defending troops in Donbass had enough drones without imaging capability to fight during the day, but at night Russia can threaten to attack much of the perimeter of the disputed territory. The senior US defense official, who spoke to reporters Monday on condition of anonymity based on ground rules set by the Pentagon, said Russia had begun to focus its efforts in northern Donbass on the cities of Izyum and Lyman in recent days, and Russian troops have also made small gains west of the city of Donetsk. But Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops out of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, less than 3 km from the border.

Ukrainian officials and lawmakers have also said that Russia fired artillery against Ukrainian positions at night, although US deliveries of new howitzer pieces helped reduce the advantage. “We have a lot of attacks at night,” Oleksandra Ustinova, a Ukrainian MP, said in a phone interview. “War is 24/7.”

Ustinova said Ukraine’s positions in Kharkiv, Donetsk and facing south are “pretty good”, but Russia is making progress in Luhansk. “They are trying to get Severodonetsk,” a major city northwest of Luhansk, she said. “So unfortunately it was hell out there.”

Even before Russia started ramping up the pace of night raids, drones have become a ubiquitous feature of the battlefield in Ukraine since the full-scale invasion of Russia more than two months ago, with Bayraktar drones Ukrainian-owned and made in Turkey that destroyed dozens of Russian vehicles. during Russia’s hesitant advance on kyiv. Ukraine also reportedly deployed the Turkish drones to eliminate Russian air defenses and refuel ships on occupied Snake Island in the Black Sea. And both sides have widely used China-standard DJI drones to keep their eyes in the sky on the battlefield.

But despite repeated requests for months, the United States has so far refused Ukrainian requests to provide drones, beyond the Switchblade and Phoenix Ghost one-way munitions that can fly over Russian targets – such as tanks. or armored vehicles – for hours before launch. a deadly kamikaze strike.

“Ukraine keeps trying to pretend it’s going to have armed fancy drones,” said a congressional aide familiar with the demands, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing arms transfers. “It’s not going to happen.” The Trump administration reinterpreted US laws to allow the Pentagon to export armed drones (a change the Biden administration did not reverse), but the aide said the new White House team was reluctant to sell these advanced weapons to non-NATO countries. .

But Ukraine has also had to prioritize, pushing drones very far down a list of weapons demands that is topped by several rocket-launching systems, even as Washington fears that arming Ukraine with specific new systems does not escalate the conflict with Russia.

“There is a huge list of weapons, because there has never been a war like this since World War II,” said Ustinova, the Ukrainian lawmaker. “Would you ask someone if they need a gun or a bulletproof vest? Both are necessary, but when given the choice, of course, the weapon will take precedence.

Yet the demand for night vision goggles among Ukrainian troops dates back even before the start of the full-scale invasion of Russia, when Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces shelled Ukrainian positions in Donbass. The US military has prided itself on its ability to “own the night” since the 1989 invasion of Panama, which saw airborne troops descend into the country under cover of darkness. But more than three decades later, the Pentagon is trying to help Ukraine repel attacks by Russian troops using the same type of equipment.

“This is a real situation, every army is looking for night vision goggles to be aware of what is happening on earth at night,” said a second Ukrainian official, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk about sensitive military demands. Foreign Police. “We were looking for them even in times of peace.”

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