Putin ‘stalled’ in key city as ‘weakened’ troops rebuffed by Western drones

Western countries have poured funding and weapons into the Ukrainian armed forces, including UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles. Over the weekend, footage emerged of a drone attacking a Russian transport helicopter on the Ukrainian Snake Island.

The Ukrainian Operational Command South, publishing the video, wrote: “We cannot stop doing this.

“We are driving the enemy out of every piece of our land, even from a small island, from the sea, and even from the air.”

The use of this Bayraktar-TB2 drone to take out the Russian Mi-8 transport helicopter is part of a concentrated effort by Western militaries to furnish the Ukrainian forces with long-range capabilities that could be crucial to the resistance.

The Institute for the Study of War predicted that the M777 howitzers, along with UAV supplies, “may successfully push Russian forces out of cannon range of Kharkiv in the coming days”.

The US has supplied 90 towed howitzers, or long-range heavy artillery, while Australia and Canada have contributed six and four respectively.

A senior US defence official described the Russian forces in the Donbas region of Ukraine as “heavily reliant” on long-range artillery.

They added: “That’s why we’re focusing them on getting them artillery and tactical UAVs.”

The Western-provided howitzers can reach targets up to 40km away – around double the reach of Russia’s main howitzer artillery, the 2S19 Msta.

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The US has trained more than 300 Ukrainian fighters to use the M777 howitzer, plus an extra 50 being trained on how to maintain the heavy artillery.

But as the UAVs and howitzers drive back Russian forces from the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Putin must also battle with other “significant challenges” such as “weakened morale”.

The UK defence ministry commented: “Russia still faces considerable challenges.

“It has been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from the failed advances in northeast Ukraine.”

It added: “Many of these units are likely suffering from weakened morale.”

A senior US defence official said last week that through the Donbas, Russian forces were encountering “greater concentrations of Ukrainian forces and a stiffer resistance, so they still remained stalled in general”.

They continued: “I would say progress is very slow and uneven.

“They are stalled in terms of their overall momentum in the north.”