Russia is rebuilding its air defense system in Crimea to counter the growing drone threat from Ukraine, state-owned TASS reported.
Chairman of the state council Vladimir Konstantinov said on live television that the region’s air defense was built for heavier weapons such as aircraft and missiles.
“This system of terrorism [drone strikes], which has now begun a year ago, no one thought that it would be the main one,” the outlet quotes him as as saying.
Incredible amounts of damage at Novofedorivka airbase in Crimea. pic.twitter.com/ymFh7HUxDX
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 9, 2022
Stepped up Drone Attacks
Kyiv has stepped up drone attacks in Crimea, a peninsula south of Ukraine that Russia annexed in 2014.
The attacks began with a drone strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the port city of Sevastopol on July 31, injuring five people and forcing the cancellation of Navy Day celebrations.
In a major escalation on August 9, Russia’s Saki Air Base in Crimea was attacked by weapons yet to be identified, leaving nine aircraft destroyed, according to the Ukrainian military.
Satellite images corroborated the damage at the base. However, Russia attributed the explosion to an ammunition depot fire and denied having lost any aircraft.
Drone Strikes Behind Saki Attack?
Military observers have attributed the Saki attack to a long-range missile strike.
However, the distance of 140 miles (225 kilometers) between the base and the nearest Ukrainian front line rules out any known munition Ukrainian armed forces could use that would strike that far away, according to Grid News.
Speaking to the outlet, senior research fellow and military aviation analyst Justin Bronk denied that the US might have secretly sent Ukraine the Lockheed Martin MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System, a system with a range of around 200 miles (322 kilometers).
Bronk said for the US to not acknowledge a weapon that it had supplied to Ukraine “wouldn’t fit the observable pattern so far.”
He added that “a much simpler explanation for the strikes is that Ukrainian Special Forces used [drones] to drop small munitions onto fuel trucks and parked aircraft.”