Ukrainian military is getting better at shooting down Iranian-made Russian drones – up to 85% of them are now being shot down, the The UK Ministry of Defense reportedciting official sources.
The ministry said in its latest war assessment that Russia is likely using drones as a substitute for increasingly scarce Russian-made long-range precision weapons.
“Ukrainian efforts to defeat Shahed-136 drones are increasingly successful,” the ministry said Monday. “These drones are slow, noisy and fly at low altitudes,” making them relatively easy targets, the ministry added.
Ukraine’s intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, on Monday estimated around 70% the kill rate of the roughly 330 Shahed drones that Russia had released until Saturday.
Budanov said the Russian military had ordered around 1,700 different types of drones and a second batch of around 300 Shaheds was being deployed.
“Terror with the use of ‘Shaheds’ can actually last a long time,” he told Ukraine Pravda. “Air defense is basically coping.”
RUSSIAN FORCES COULD FACE “ROUT”:Russia may struggle to get frontline troops out of Kherson; US rejects Russian claim of Ukrainian radioactive ‘provocation’
►Residents of the southern city of Mykolaiv lined up for water and essential supplies as Ukrainian forces continued their advance on the nearby city of Kherson.
►The war in Ukraine was a major topic of conversation on Monday during a meeting at the Vatican between Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron.
►German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said rebuilding Ukraine will be a “generational task” that no single country, donor or international institution can handle alone.
►SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said he will allow Ukraine to continue using its Starlink satellites even if the Pentagon refuses to provide funding.
The Russian army creates the illusion that it leaves Kherson by withdrawing its officers and forcing the evacuation of the city, a senior Ukrainian official said on Monday. But Budanov, Ukraine’s intelligence chief, told Ukraine’s Pravda that the Kremlin was sending new military units to the region Russia claimed to annex just weeks ago.
Budanov said Sergei Surovikin, who commanded the Southern Group of Russian troops during the war, could maintain the appearance of an orderly withdrawal to stifle Russian public reaction to a surrender or loss of Kherson.
“They create the illusion that everything is gone,” Budanov said. “And at the same time, on the contrary, they bring new military units there and prepare the streets of the city for defense.”
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in a weekend assessment that Russia seems to rely on new recruits to block the recapture of the city by the Ukrainian army.
“The use of such inexperienced forces to carry out delaying action could lead to a Russian rout if Ukrainian forces choose to continue the attack,” the assessment said.
The Kremlin, despite strong denials from Kyiv and the West, insisted unsubstantiated allegation on Monday that Ukraine plans to detonate a low-yield nuclear device and then blame Russia for using weapons of mass destruction.
Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov, head of the Russian military’s radiological, chemical and biological protection force, said his defense ministry “has evidence that the Kyiv regime is planning a provocation involving the explosion of a so-called dirty bomb”. These weapons are usually used more to sow terror than to kill. Kirillov did not detail what evidence Russia might have.
Kirillov said the provocation would be used to launch an anti-Russian campaign around the world aimed at undermining trust in Moscow. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested that Russia was preparing the ground to deploy a radioactive device on Ukrainian soil.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke to his American, British and French counterparts on Sunday, accusing Ukraine of planning the provocation to escalate the war. All firmly rejected the requestand a senior US military official who spoke on condition of anonymity told USA TODAY that the Ukrainians were not building a dirty bomb.
“I spoke on the phone today with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu who requested a follow-up call,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a Twitter post on Sunday. “I rejected any pretense of Russian escalation and reaffirmed the value of continued communication amid Russia’s illegal and unwarranted war on Ukraine.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also dismissed claims Shoigu could play well in Russia as “absurd” and dangerous.
Ukraine’s Black Sea ports are operating at less than a third of their capacity due to Russian interference, according to Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry. The development jeopardizes a fragile agreement which is due to expire on November 19.
The agreement, reached at the end of July thanks to the mediation of the UN and Turkey, lifted the Russian blockade of the ports and allowed Ukraine to ship more than 8 million tons of cereals to African countries, Asians and Europeans, helping to alleviate an emerging food crisis.
Russia believes that the guarantees it received for its grain and fertilizer imports are not respected and has repeatedly complained about the implementation of the agreement, recently raising concerns at the ‘UN, Reuters reported.
Ukraine is seeking to renew the deal but wants Russia to fully honor its part.
“Russia is deliberately delaying the full implementation of the ‘Grain Initiative’, its Ministry of Infrastructure said on Telegram. “For this reason, ports have operated in recent days at only 25-30% of their ability”.
Iran is “making the world less safe” by supplying Russia with drones for its war in Ukraine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday.
Speaking alongside Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, where she was attending a forum in Zagreb aimed at supporting Ukraine’s independence from Russian aggression, Pelosi blamed Iran for “making a big mistake” in providing the explosive devices.
Russia has renamed the Shahed drones, which terrorized the Ukrainian population and damaged power plants, and Iran denies being the source. But several of the distinctive triangle-shaped drones have been spotted in Ukraine.
“We have to be able to counter drones,” Pelosi said. “It’s a dangerous technology and it needs to be stopped.”
Contributor: Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY; The Associated Press