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Main War — Oleg Zhdanov: The Russians identify areas where the Ukrainian air defense systems have the lowest density and primarily chart routes through these zones


Oleg Zhdanov: The Russians identify areas where the Ukrainian air defense systems have the lowest density and primarily chart routes through these zones

03 Oct, 2023
Oleg Zhdanov: The Russians identify areas where the Ukrainian air defense systems have the lowest density and primarily chart routes through these zones

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September 2023 set a record for the number of Russian drone attacks. During the month, 427 UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) were destroyed in Ukrainian airspace. In total, the Russians deployed over five hundred drones. According to Yuriy Ignat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, they are preparing for a situation where combat drones will dominate over missiles in Russian attacks in the near future.

Military expert Oleg Zhdanov discussed with the TSN.ua why the Russians have 'shifted' to drones, the potential threats this poses to Ukraine, the possible targets, regions that may be beyond the enemy's reach, and whether Ukraine has the necessary means for the effective destruction of drones.

The reason is that the production of missiles is much more complex and expensive compared to drone production, says Oleg Zhdanov. Furthermore, if we look at the quantity of drones used over at least the last month, it can be inferred that Russia has acquired a source of supply, which may not be limited to one.

"It can be assumed that, in addition to Iranian drones, Russia has started receiving them from China. Because at the Army-2023 exhibition in the Moscow region, China demonstrated a full analogue of the 'Shahed,' but with a different name. The world knows how well the Chinese can copy," Oleg Zhdanov explains.

He speculates that Belarus might have joined drone production as well. Additionally, Russia has its own factory in Tatarstan where they might not just assemble but also produce drones. So, in total, there could be four sources of drone supply.

"Half a year ago, Lukashenko set the task at a military collegium to resume the development of drones, unmanned reconnaissance, and strike aircraft. If I'm not mistaken, there is a plant and laboratory in Gomel that was involved in this. Engineers have appeared there – they were identified by our intelligence," the military expert stated.

According to Oleg Zhdanov, there is currently a shortage of missiles in Russia, and their usage exceeds production. The accumulation of missiles does not meet the needs of the Russian command.

"They want to deliver as many missile strikes as possible, but they need to accumulate missiles. I believe that if at least half of my version is confirmed, in terms of the emergence of new sources of drone supply, it is quite likely that the Russians will replace missiles with drones," says the military expert.

He notes that Russia needs more drones, and they will be deployed.

"The damage from them is less, but it will still be there. It doesn't matter whether a transformer is damaged by a drone or a missile. It may not be repairable in either case," explains Oleg Zhdanov.

There are no regions in Ukraine that Russian drones cannot reach. If we believe the stated tactical and technical characteristics, the drones can fly a distance of 1000 km.

"They completely cover the territory of Ukraine. And the targets will be various, the same objects. Remember how the Russian Federation started? Our air defense system, then traction substations of the railway, and then the energy infrastructure itself. So I think the list of objects will not change," says Oleg Zhdanov.

"The creation of a dense air defense system at the tactical level that would cover almost the entire territory. Several schematics have appeared on the internet based on Ukraine's map, showing how drones and rockets flew during various attacks. This is a visual guide to how Russian intelligence operates," says the military expert.



Russians identify areas with the lowest density of Ukrainian air defense assets and "white spots" on the map, then plan routes primarily through these zones.

"We cannot currently cover the entire territory of Ukraine. Due to their long range and reserves, they can maneuver through our airspace," explains Oleg Zhdanov.

The military expert states that rockets in Ukraine are being effectively intercepted at a rate of 80-90%, but only when they are used against large targets.

"Firing rockets at small substations is pointless, and larger targets are more or less covered today. However, drones, due to their numbers, are much harder to intercept. Furthermore, it turns out that in some areas or regions, tactical-level air defense systems were not created as meticulously or successfully. This includes observation posts, mobile groups, and others," explains Oleg Zhdanov.

He says that Ukraine already needs several hundred units of defense against Russian shelling, which cannot be obtained in such quantities and so quickly.

"Mr. Ignat mentioned that it would be much better if we were given a couple of hundred 'Gepards' (Gepard, a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun). But we understand that nobody will give them to us today, maybe tomorrow or the day after. And not hundreds, but a couple of dozen. They won't solve the current issue. However, creating mobile groups, observation post systems, and their rapid deployment will give us a chance to increase, not to completely intercept all the 'Shaheds,' but to increase the probability of intercepting them to at least the level of missile hits - 80-90%," says the military expert.

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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