According to security experts, Ukraine's successful drone strikes against Russian infrastructure over the past week demonstrate both the effectiveness of Ukrainian intelligence and the vulnerability of Russia's air defenses. Russia may now be forced to redeploy some of its air defense systems and focus on maintaining strategic capabilities on its own territory.
In the past week, Ukraine has managed to carry out three significant drone strikes against Russian infrastructure. In Leningrad Oblast, the energy exporting port of Ust-Luga was hit, as was a military industrial plant in Tula Oblast and a Rosneft oil refinery in Krasnodar Krai.
"The Ukrainians have good intelligence. The Ukrainians are able to bypass Russian air defenses and hit targets very accurately and effectively," said Col. Eero Rebo, chief of the General Staff of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF).
"Looking at how these Ust-Luga attacks have appeared here, I would dare to suggest that it has been a case here too of a group of men or women coming close and then shooting down these drones from a short distance," security expert Rainer Saks said.
Ukraine's great strength is target detection and, according to Saks, they are trying to demonstrate that they are capable of attacking sensitive targets all over Russia. This could put a lot of pressure on both the Russian internal security forces and the country's leadership.
"If Russia is forced to concentrate on maintaining and reinforcing its air defenses and other such strategic capabilities on its own territory, it will make the situation much easier for Ukrainian troops on the front line," Saks said.
According to Col. Rebo, Russia having to move some of its air defense systems away from the front line cannot be ruled out.
He added however, that while drones are playing an increasingly important role in the war, they are not the most important factor. Ukraine's infantry and its artillery troops, who are holding the front line, are the ones shaping the main operations.
"The weather at the moment also gives an advantage to the armored forces. Once again, after a muddy period, as the ground hardens, it is possible to deploy a significant amount of different armored vehicles, including tanks," Rebo said.
Due to the delay in receiving Western support, the Ukrainians are currently fighting with whatever they still have available, Col. Rebo said. They are also, for instance, trying to produce their own missiles.
"When we talk about self-produced here, Ukraine has a perfectly sizeable military-industrial potential," the EDF colonel said.
When they are not being used on Russian territory, Ukraine also has Western long-range missiles.
Editor: Michael Cole