Russian forces in Ukraine have lost more than 1,000 soldiers, nearly a dozen tanks and almost 100 airborne drones in a single day, Kyiv’s military said on Sunday, after Moscow launched the “largest drone strike” of the more-than 21-month-old war.
Moscow’s troops lost 1,070 fighters and 21 tanks in the past 24 hours, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in an operational update on Sunday. The Kremlin’s forces in the war-torn country have now lost 324,830 soldiers and 7,513 tanks since the outbreak of all-out war in February 2022, according to Ukraine’s tally.
Russia also lost 93 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the past day, the General Staff said, bringing the total number of UAVs it has lost to 8,901.
Drones, and the rapid development and deployment of new uncrewed technology have dominated the battlefield in Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
Russia has made extensive use of cheap suicide drones, also known as “kamikaze” drones, the most well-known of which are the Iranian-designed Shahed loitering munitions, also known as Geran-1 and Geran-2.
Known for their distinctive, low buzzing sound, they are capable of carrying a warhead that shatters or explodes when it reaches the intended target. The smaller Shahed-131 has a shorter maximum range than the larger 136, thought to be around 550 miles for the former and approximately 1,200 miles for the latter.
On Saturday, Ukraine said Moscow launched a “record number” of Shahed drones on its territory, using 75 UAVs from two sites in Russia.
The drones primarily attacked Kyiv, the capital, but strikes were registered in at least six regions, the Ukrainian military said. It initially said the country’s air defenses had destroyed 71 of the drones, but a revised tally upped the count to 74 UAVs.
Early on Sunday, Ukraine’s air force said Moscow had launched another nine Shahed drones from Primorsko-Akhtarsk, a town in Russia’s Krasnodar region frequently used to launch strikes.
Ukraine’s air defenses intercepted eight of the drones, Kyiv said.
The 75-vehicle attack was “the largest drone strike against Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion,” the U.S. think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), said in its latest update.
The Shahed drones used in the overnight attack were modified versions of previously seen types, Ukrainian air force spokesman, Colonel Yuriy Ihnat, said following the strikes. The new Shaheds were black, and could absorb radar signals, making them harder to detect, he said.
Russian military bloggers also claimed Russia had used black versions of the drones for the first time, and that it would be more difficult for Ukraine’s air defenses to detect them, the ISW said.
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