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Ukraine Deploys Long-Range Drones to Strike Deep into Russian Territory, Which is Costing Russia

Facing setbacks on the battlefield, Ukraine is employing long-range drones to strike deep behind enemy lines into Russian territory, targeting oil refineries, airfields, and logistics hubs.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the aim of these strikes is to disrupt fuel supplies to Russian forces and deprive Moscow of export revenue to finance the war. By bringing the war deeper into Russia, Kyiv may also force Moscow to redeploy air defense systems away from the front lines.

“Cheaper and more accessible than cruise missiles, domestically produced drones allow Kyiv to bypass political restrictions on the use of Western-supplied weapons for attacks on Russian territory. Startups have emerged to meet the demand, manufacturing drones tailored for these missions,” the article notes.

In the early days of the war, Ukraine adapted commercially available drones, such as the Chinese-made Mugin-5, which, according to defense analyst H.I. Sutton, was used in one of the first attacks on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the Russian occupied Crimea in August 2022.

However, these have gradually been replaced by Ukraine’s own designs, although Kyiv remains reliant on commercially available Chinese components, the WSJ reports.

Sutton has identified 19 different models being used for attacks on Russian territory. According to one drone manufacturer, their cost ranges from $30,000 to 10 times that amount. Even at the upper end of the range, this is still significantly less than cruise missiles, which Western countries have provided to Ukraine on the condition that they only be used on Russian-occupied territory, the publication notes.

The rapid development of Ukraine’s drone industry reflects the ingenuity that has allowed it to withstand a full-scale Russian invasion. Earlier this year, Hanna Hvozdiar, Deputy Minister for Strategic Industries of Ukraine, has stated that Ukrainian drone manufacturers can already produce up to 150,000 units per month, and by the end of the year, Ukraine may have a total of 2 million drones.

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