Russia has built heavily fortified defenses along the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line, honed its electronic weapons to reduce Ukraine’s edge in combat drones, and turned heavy bombs from its massive Cold-War-era arsenal into precision-guided gliding munitions capable of striking targets without putting its warplanes at risk, writes “India Times”.
Ukrainian troops are probing Russian defenses as spring gives way to a second summer of fighting, and Kyiv’s forces are facing an enemy that has made mistakes and suffered setbacks in the 15-month-old war. But analysts say Moscow also has learned from those blunders and improved its weapons and skills.
The changing Russian tactics along with increased troop numbers and improved weaponry could make it challenging for Ukraine to score any kind of quick decisive victory, threatening to turn it into a long battle of attrition.
Ukrainian troops have unleashed a series of attacks in several parts of the front that so far have made only marginal gains against multilayered Russian defenses.
Russian military bloggers hailed the punch of the gliding bombs and their ability to hit targets up to 70 kilometers (over 43 miles) away. One former military pilot said in his blog that work is under way to convert 1,500-kilogram (3,300-pound) bombs into gliding munitions.
These conversions allow the Russian air force to ramp up strikes on Ukrainian forces without risking its warplanes.
The Royal United Service Institute (RUSI), a London-based think-tank that focuses on defense and security issues, listed these gliding bombs along with other improvements in Russian weapons and tactics.
“Although they only have limited accuracy, the size of these munitions poses a serious threat,” RUSI said in a recent report, adding Russia was working to improve their accuracy.
Russian engineers have shown prowess in building field fortifications and complex obstacles along the front line, including concrete-reinforced trenches and command bunkers, wire-entanglements, ditches, anti-tank hedgehogs or “dragon’s teeth” and complex minefields, the report said.
Extensive placement of sophisticated mines for use against tanks and infantry poses “a major tactical challenge to Ukrainian offensive operations,” the RUSI authors said.
Other Russian improvements noted in the report include better thermal camouflage for tanks; nimbler deployment of artillery into multiple positions, including integration with drones to avoid losses; and attacking Ukrainian artillery with loitering munitions — drones that hover until they acquire a target.
Improved Russian electronic warfare systems have destroyed about 10,000 Ukrainian drones a month, while they also have been able to intercept and decrypt Ukrainian tactical communications in real time, it added.
Russians also have learned to intercept GPS-guided rockets fired by Western-supplied launchers like the U.S.-made HIMARS, which embarrassed the Russians and inflicted major damage, the report said.