11 February 2024

Russia launches 45 drones in mass barrage of Ukraine

11 February 2024

Russian forces launched 45 drones over Ukraine on Sunday in a five-and-a-half-hour barrage, officials said.

The attack came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued the reshuffle of his war cabinet with the conflict entering its third year.

In a statement, the Ukrainian air force said it had shot down 40 of the Iranian-made Shahed drones over nine different regions, including on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Kyiv.

The blitz targeted agricultural facilities and coastal infrastructure, officials for Ukraine’s southern defence forces wrote on Telegram.

They said a strike in the Mykolaiv region had injured one person, sparking a fire and damaging nearby residential buildings.

Another person was injured in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region when a blaze broke out due to falling debris from a destroyed drone, said the head of the region’s military administration, Serhiy Lysak.

The strikes came as Mr Zelensky continued his shake-up of military commanders in a bid to maintain momentum against attacking Russian forces.

Kyiv announced on Sunday that former deputy defence minister Lieutenant General Alexander Pavlyuk is to become the new commander of Ukraine’s ground forces. The post was previously held by Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who was named on Thursday as the replacement for Ukraine’s outgoing military chief, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

New presidential decrees also named Yurii Sodol, former head of Ukraine’s marine corps, as the the new commander of Ukraine’s combined forces; Brigadier General Ihor Skibiuk as commander of Ukraine’s air assault forces; and Major General Ihor Plahuta as commander of Ukraine’s territorial defence forces.

Incoming commander-in-chief Col Gen Syrskyi has signalled that his immediate goals include improving troop rotation at the front lines and harnessing the power of new technology at a time when Kyiv’s forces are largely on the defensive.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military intelligence service said on Sunday that attacking Russian forces had been found using Starlink terminals to aid their attack.

It released what it said was a recording of an intercepted conversation between two Russian soldiers as proof.

Starlink terminals, which use a series of satellites run by Elon Musk’s company Space X to provide high-speed communications, have been vital in giving Ukraine’s military an edge over invading Russian troops.

However, multiple reports of Russian troops using Starlink on the front line in occupied Ukraine have begun to surface in the Ukrainian media in recent weeks.

They prompted Space X to release a statement on social media on February 8, saying it does not “do business of any kind with the Russian government or its military”.

However, Western tech components have regularly been found among Russia’s arsenal as Moscow has become more skilled at evading sanctions, often importing goods via third countries.

In a statement on Telegram on Saturday, Mr Zelensky said he hopes to “reboot” the upper levels of Ukraine’s armed forces with experienced combat commanders.

“Now, people who are well-known in the army and who themselves know well what the army needs are taking on new responsibilities,” he said.

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