Ukrainian Infiltration Force in Bakhmut Destroyed By Russian Drone Units – New Footage

On December 16 the Russian Defence Ministry has released footage showing reconnaissance and attack drone operators tracking and neutralising Ukrainian infiltrators in the direction of the city of Bakhmut. While the country’s drone fleet was highly limited in its capabilities when full scale hostilities in Ukraine began in February 2022, they have grown tremendously due to a combination of the urgent need for such assets in Ukraine, and sales and technology transfers from Iran which had developed a much more diverse and capable drone fleet domestically. The drones filmed being used for the attack on Ukrainian units were single use assets, otherwise know as ‘kamikaze’ drones, which carry explosive warheads and launch attacks by physically flying into their targets rather than launching air to surface weapons. Such drones began to play a major role in the Ukrainian theatre from mid-September 2022, when Iranian Shahed-136 drones were first confirmed to be being utilised. These were followed in 2023 by a comparable indigenous asset, the Lancet, which has seen significant improvements to its design between production batches and thus rapid growth in its combat potential.

Although the depletion of Ukrainian air defences has reduced the risks faced by manned combat aircraft operating against the country’s ground forces, the use of kamikaze drones has provided a highly cost effective means of launching precision strikes while avoiding risking fighters on the frontlines. The target of the Ukrainian infiltration force, the city of Bakhmut, was captured by Russian forces following a ten month struggle which concluded in May 2023, shortly preceding the initiation of mass Ukrainian offensives the following month. The battle for the city was among the bloodiest the world has seen since the 1980s, with former U.S. Marine Troy Offenbecker who fought on the frontlines having described “a lot of casualties. The life expectancy is around four hours on the frontline.” As some of the deadliest fighting since the Russian-Ukrainian War began in February 2022, the clashes in Bakhmut were “chaotic” and were dubbed “the meat grinder” by the Ukrainians due to the extreme scale of personnel losses suffered. New details from Ukrainian sources on the extent of casualties suffered have corroborated with these reports. Bakhmut itself remains one of the largest cities captured by Russian forces since the outbreak of full scale hostilities in February 2022.