KYIV, UKRAINE (AP) – According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russia is preparing to step up its attacks on Ukraine using Iranian-made exploding drones, as Moscow looks for ways to keep up the pressure on Kyiv after months of battlefield setbacks for the Kremlin’s war strategy.
Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Monday, “We have information that Russia is planning a prolonged attack by exploding drones.”
He said the goal is to break Ukraine’s resistance by “exhausting our people, (our) air defence, our energy”, more than 10 months after Russia invaded its neighbour.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is exploring how to shore up confidence in Moscow’s flawed war effort, which in recent months has been dented by a Ukrainian counteroffensive backed by Western-supplied weapons. That has brought criticism in some Russian circles of the military’s performance.
In the latest embarrassment for the Kremlin, Ukrainian forces fired rockets at a facility in the eastern Donetsk region where Russian soldiers were stationed, killing 63 of them. It was one of the deadliest attacks on the Kremlin’s forces since the war began more than 10 months ago.
Ukraine’s Western-reinforced air defences have made it difficult for Russian warplanes to carry out missile strikes. The Iranian-made exploding drones are a cheap weapon which also spreads fear among troops and civilians.
The Institute for the Study of War said that Putin is looking to strengthen support for his strategy among key voices in Russia.
The think tank said on Monday, “Russia’s air and missile campaign against Ukraine is likely not generating the Kremlin’s desired information effects among Russia’s nationalists.”
It added, “Such profound military failures will continue to complicate Putin’s efforts to appease the Russian pro-war community and retain the dominant narrative in the domestic information space.”