Story By: Ana Marjanovic, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
The pro-Russian DPR has said that Ukraine has resorted to using US-made “kamikaze drones” because “American artillery” being provided by their allies is in short supply.
These images, obtained from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on Wednesday, 15th June, show military and trench warfare operations in eastern Ukraine, before a soldier speaks about American “kamikaze drones” that he says are being used by the Ukrainian forces.
In the footage, the unnamed officer from the People’s Militia of the DPR says: “The Ukrainian army used imported Kamikaze drones. They were used against my fighters at their position twice. Both times unsuccessfully, no personnel were injured. Their position was not damaged.
“It’s called Switchblade 300. Small, 50 centimetres. But very fast, it flies above the ground, selects a target, it also has a camera on its side. I don’t think it’s effective.”
The Switchblade 300 is an American-built, expendable, ‘kamikaze’ drone that is used by several branches of the US military.
The soldier then says: “It selects a target, makes a circle, picks up speed, and flies to death. According to my thoughts and my fighters’ thoughts. There are about 200 grammes of charges, it has no fragments.”
Another person, perhaps the person filming, then asks: “And what about the hull?”
The soldier answers: “The hull is carbon fibre. It had two guide wings at the back. It buzzes very loudly, it has a characteristic sound. It cannot be confused with an ordinary quadrocopter, it is very loud.
“They began to use it, as there is not enough American artillery. But we can handle it!
“And here it is, look! They attack the city, the air defence intercepts them, but they shoot again!”
A statement obtained from the DPR on Wednesday, 15th June, also said that they are “continuing to destroy the firing points of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Avdiivka direction.”
Avdiivka is a city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast region.
The statement added: “The fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are forced to use American kamikaze drones against the fighters of the People’s Militia of the DPR in the area of the settlement of Kamenka.
“The pressure of the artillery of the people’s militia on the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been increased to the limit: a counter-battery fight and fire is being carried out on the identified positions and firing points of Ukrainian militants.”
Russian troops invaded Ukraine on 24th February in what the Kremlin is still calling a “special military operation”. Today, Thursday, 16th June, marks the 113th day of the campaign.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that between 24th February and 15th June, Russia had lost 32,750 personnel, 1,440 tanks, 3,528 armoured fighting vehicles, 722 pieces of artillery, 230 multiple launch rocket systems, 97 anti-aircraft units, 213 warplanes, 179 helicopters, 2,485 motor vehicles and fuel tankers, 13 boats, 591 unmanned aerial vehicles, 55 special equipment units and 129 cruise missiles were shot down.
All the bridges to the besieged Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk have reportedly been destroyed, the local governor, Serhiy Haidai, has said. Ukrainian forces there are now cut off from any possible retreat and fierce street-to-street fighting is taking place in the city, which has been the focus of Russian artillery fire for weeks.
An aide to President Zelenskyy has said that Ukraine is losing up to 200 troops a day.
President Zelenskyy has also said that Ukraine is suffering “painful losses” in its eastern Donbas region. He stressed that Ukraine needs modern anti-missile weapons to defend its territory.
The United Kingdom and the United States have said they are sending long-range missile systems to Ukraine.
But Ukrainian officials have said that weapons are not arriving fast enough. An adviser to President Zelenskyy, Mykhailo Podolyak, has said that to end the war, they need “1,000 howitzers caliber 155 mm; 300 MLRS; 500 tanks; 2000 armored vehicles; 1,000 drones”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of more attacks in Ukraine if the West sends long-range weapons.
The European Parliament has adopted a resolution recommending that the European Union grant Ukraine the status of candidate country for EU membership.
It is understood that there are ongoing attempts to set up a civilian corridor out of the encircled city of Sievierodonetsk.
It is not clear if Russia has halted its attacks in the key eastern city to allow for evacuation, and hundreds of civilians are said to be trapped in a huge chemical plant.
The Russian army has said that evacuated civilians will be transported to separatist-controlled areas of Luhansk Oblast.
But previous humanitarian corridor attempts have struggled to stay open.
Russian forces now control most of Sievierodonetsk after a month of intense combat, according to UK military intelligence.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Turkey has raised legitimate concerns in its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance and that talks to find a solution would continue.
NATO ministers were in Brussels for talks as Russia’s military advances in the Donbas region prompted pleas from Ukrainian officials for more Western weapons.