Ukraine strikes inside Russia disrupting the ability of Putin’s forces to use drones, MoD says

A Ukrainian serviceman launches a mid-range reconnaissance type drone, Vector, for flying over positions of Russian troops in a Kharkiv region (REUTERS)
A Ukrainian serviceman launches a mid-range reconnaissance type drone, Vector, for flying over positions of Russian troops in a Kharkiv region (REUTERS)

Ukrainian strikes against a Russian airbase outside of the occupied territories have likely “disrupted” the Kremlin’s ability to launch its own drone attacks, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, the MoD said in an intelligence update that it was “highly likely” Ukrainian strikes last week on the Yeysk airbase in Krasnodar Krai, a region on the other side of the Kerch Strait from occupied Crimea, had damaged Russia’s drone capabilities.

They added that the successful attack, carried out on 21 June, could force Russia to relocate its more vulnerable bases further from Ukrainian territory.

“It is highly likely that, in the short term, these strikes will cause some disruption to Russia’s ability to use Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to strike targets deep within Ukrainian territory from these locations,” the MoD wrote.

“There is a realistic possibility that Russia will disperse its UAV operations to less vulnerable bases and hence the impact will be likely temporary.

“It is likely that Ukraine will exploit its recent successes and continue with its counter-UAV campaign to the detriment of Russia.”

Ukrainian servicemen of the 55th Artillery Brigade
Ukrainian servicemen of the 55th Artillery Brigade "Zaporizhzhia Sich" fire a French-made CAESAR self-propelled howitzer toward Russian positions, in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)

The Kremlin has used long-range, Iranian-made “Shahed” drones to attack Ukrainian energy infrastructure and civilian-populated areas for nearly two years - their first use was documented in September 2022, six months after the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

But in recent months, Ukraine has been using domestically-produced drones of their own to strike back at Russian military targets. The attack on Yeysk airbase is just one of dozens of attacks that have reached as far as Vladimir Putin’s hometown of St Petersburg, more than 500 miles from Ukraine.

Notwithstanding the relative success of Ukraine’s counter-UAV campaign, its lack of Western supplies through the end of 2023 and into the first half of this year have cost them the initiative on the frontline.

Kyiv has routinely praised its soldiers for holding back a better-equipped Russian armed force and that deficit is starting to narrow as US military aid arrives in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal also announced on Friday that military pledges outlined in 20 security agreements Kyiv has signed with its partners total $60 billion (£47bn) annually for the next four years.

But Moscow has nonetheless taken territory, with the Kremlin’s MoD claiming to have seized control of the settlement of Rozdolivka, in eastern Ukraine, on Friday.

The ministry said in a statement that Russia’s "Southern" military grouping had taken up what it called more favourable positions after pushing Ukrainian forces out of the settlement, which is located in the Donetsk region.

Ukrainian war tracker DeepState, known to have close connections to Ukraine’s armed forces, acknowledged a Russian attack towards Rozdolivka from the east.

But its latest update to its map suggests that any Russian pushes near Rozdolivka failed to reach the town itself.