Putin's Nightmare: Unveiling a New Plot at Russia's Core

Ukraine's strategic offensive unveils a new dimension in warfare

by Zain ul Abedin
Putin's Nightmare: Unveiling a New Plot at Russia's Core
© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

In a series of bold maneuvers that have reverberated across the globe, Ukraine has intensified its military tactics by launching unprecedented drone attacks deep within Russian territory. This strategic offensive, targeting both military and economic infrastructures, marks a significant escalation in Ukraine's combat methodology, highlighting the increasing sophistication and reach of its drone warfare capabilities.

On a notable Tuesday, Ukraine's audacity was on full display as at least two drones successfully penetrated a Russian training facility, signaling a new phase in the conflict that could have far-reaching implications. This attack is part of a broader campaign that, for the first time, has utilized a vast number of drones in such a compact timeframe, reaching areas of Russia previously considered beyond the conflict's scope.

For over a month, Ukraine's One-Way Attack (OWA) drone program has systematically targeted Russia's oil infrastructure, production facilities, and airbases crucial for missile launches, delivering significant blows to the Russian war machinery.

The strategic use of OWA drones presents a problem for Russian defense: allocating expensive and limited air defense resources against relatively inexpensive drones. This imbalance forces Russia into making tough decisions - either intercept these drones, deplete valuable resources, or risk significant material and strategic losses.

Ukraine's drone strikes have already cost Russia millions in equipment damages, underscoring the effectiveness of this strategy. Russia now faces the challenge of defending thousands of miles of territory, deciding where to deploy air defense systems amidst the dual pressures of front-line combat needs and protecting rear-area targets.

This predicament exposes Russian civilians to the realities of war, a situation President Putin likely did not anticipate when he initiated the conflict two years ago.

Drone Strikes' Diverse Impact

The impact of Ukraine's drone strikes varies, with attacks on the oil sector inflicting the most damage, potentially disrupting over 10% of Russia's refining capacity.

While some facilities have been restored, the resilience of Russia's oil industry remains in question. Conversely, attacks on better-defended airfields have seen limited success, with claims of destroyed Russian fighters at Morozovsk airfield unconfirmed by subsequent satellite imagery.

Innovatively, Ukraine has also targeted Russian drone manufacturing facilities, demonstrating the varied nature of its OWA drones, from simple models made of everyday materials to more sophisticated ones powered by jet engines.

These drones, emblematic of Ukraine's ingenuity and resourcefulness, have proven difficult for Russian defenses to intercept. Despite the tactical successes of these drone strikes, Ukraine's actions have elicited mixed responses from international partners.

The United States has explicitly stated its non-support for strikes within Russia, reflecting the nuanced debate within the Biden Administration regarding the provision of "long-range" weapons due to fears of escalation. However, the UK has shown less reservation, delivering various drone models to Ukraine, indicating a divergence in support and strategy among Ukraine's allies.