Vladimir Putin unleashes killing machines in Ukraine war to terrorize Kyiv residents

By the time they heard the high-pitched roar of the small gasoline engine roaring overhead, it was already too late.

What happens next when an unmanned drone carrying a bomb screams from Russian airspace towards its target now becomes a familiar daily routine in breathtaking terror for all below them in Ukraine.

A last-minute flurry of gunfire comes next, as the defenders try to bring them down.

Police open fire on a Russian drone over kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.(Reuters: Vadim Sarakhan)

Seconds later, that dull sonic shockwave of a deep, resounding explosion on impact.

On Monday, residents of an aging building in central Kyiv bore the brunt of Russia’s latest weapon of choice: the Iranian-designed Shahed-136 drone that has become the new spearhead of the national arsenal in rapid decline of Vladimir Putin.

As Kyiv testifies, in these three sounds, for about 30 sickening seconds, thousands more in the center of the capital heard, saw and felt the hideous potential of a killing machine that until last month , had only been used sparingly.

Firefighters sift through the rubble of a destroyed building in Kyiv.
At least four people were killed when an unmanned Russian drone hit a residential building in Kyiv on Monday.(ABC News: Adam Kennedy)

All indications now point to its deployment in Ukraine on a scale never seen before, another feat of infamy in this brutal war.

At least 28 of the wedge-shaped machines were timed to strike critical electricity and water infrastructure in the Ukrainian capital between dawn and breakfast Monday morning.

By lunch, five had made it all the way, or almost, before exploding near Kyiv’s central train station, spraying shrapnel and fireballs along streets and buildings.

The killing machine of its time

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Strike on Kyiv filmed

The sudden popularity among Russian generals of these so-called “kamikaze” drones speaks volumes about Moscow’s means, methods and motivations, nearly eight months after its invasion of Ukraine.

Cheap, unsophisticated, and with an unerring knack for hitting civilian targets – seemingly “unintentionally” – the Shahed-136 embodies the essence of the Russian military itself these days.

No matter how inaccurate they are, they are expendable, less fallible than a nervous young army conscript, and outweigh their weight in the sheer psychological intimidation they apply to vulnerable Ukrainian civilians at work, at rest or in hobbies.

Russia is not the only military force to buy or use such “remote” or remote delivery systems, but, at a fraction of the price of high-end missiles and rockets, there are many reasons why which the rapid rise in their use horrified the international community in a conflict where depravity already seemed to have reached its abyss throughout the first seven months.

Although Iran intends to deny it, no Western country doubts that its Iranian Aircraft Industry Company (HESA) was behind the design, if not the manufacture, of the Shahed-136, commonly renamed by the Russians as their “Geran”. – 2 inch Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

“Iran is responsible for the murders of Ukrainians,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted, attributing full culpability to the Islamic Republic in the hours after the deaths from the Kyiv apartment strike were confirmed.

“[The] country that oppresses its own people is now giving [Russian] monster weapons for mass murder in the heart of Europe,” he said.

Moscow’s official explanation is that the drones are only used to target critical infrastructure or Ukrainian military targets, a ruse that ignores the proximity of gas, electricity and water facilities to homes. civilians, as was the case in central Kyiv this week.

Low, slow and cheap

An engine of an Iranian suicide drone.
The Shahed-136 suicide drone is powered by a basic gasoline engine.(Reuters: Vitalii Hnidyi)

As a flying bomb, the “kamikaze” drone’s greatest attraction for military command is its price and engineering simplicity.

Ukrainian tech news site Mezha.Media traced the legacy from its distinctive gasoline engine to Hitler’s Volkswagen “boxer” engine, originally used in his Beetle, then copied and refined by others into its present form as an efficient Chinese-made 50 horsepower unit.

Once programmed and launched, the Shahed-136 would have a range of over 1,000 kilometers, making it the ideal platform for one-way trips to Ukrainian cities, loaded with 50 kilograms of high explosives.

Moving at speeds faster than a car on a highway – around 180 km/h – they fly low and slow, but never alone, usually moving in a group of two to five planes, sharing or “bouncing” signals data between them over time.

Air defense systems can, and often do, detect drones in flight, but their low value presents a budgetary and even ethical dilemma for operators who use high-end airspace shields: should they “waste “a million dollar missile? on a cheap kit worth a fraction of that price, or save it for advanced, high-tech missile assaults.

More often than not, attempts to bring down flying bombs are left to machine guns or assault rifles in the hands of soldiers on the last line of defense.

Video released by an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister showed National Police officers shooting down one of the drones as they hovered on a street in Kyiv, with the flying machine crashing down, in a huge explosion, right next to them.

In the minds of designers and owners, these systems offer the added “bonus” of being harder to destroy before the swarms launch, as the drones are stored in portable racks mounted on trailers, making them easy to hide or move before satellite intelligence is corrected. on them.

“They fly low and you can send them in waves,” military expert Justin Crump – the chief executive of risk analysis consultancy Sibylline, told the BBC.

“These drone swarms are much harder to counter with air defenses.”

Killer drones a moral dilemma

In the warped world of military industrial planners and arms dealers, automated, ranged, and drone weapons technology has long been considered the holy grail of future “networked” forms of warfare and their potentially counterintuitive use. ethic has been explored endlessly in movies and books. .

Only now, during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, does the world seem to recognize the real dilemma they present when used in heavily built-up urban areas occupied by civilians.

Much has already been done by the United Nations, European diplomats and world leaders condemning the sorties on Kyiv.

In most cases, and particularly in the United States, those who speak out against armed drones do so knowing that they also possess weapons of similar or greater destructive capacity – and have used them.

Unfortunately, for the people of Ukraine or any other country involved in a protracted war, the talks cost nothing.

Worse still, drones are being used with apparent abandon and to devastating effect on humanity.

James G. Williams