As Russian forces push for territorial gains in eastern Ukraine, they are turning to a military capability they largely forbade during the war but which is expected to give them an advantage: electronic warfare.
Having previously failed to overthrow the Ukrainian government, the Russian military has focused its offensive on the country’s eastern Donbass region, home to a large population of Russian speakers. New reports show that Russian forces are increasingly eavesdropping on Ukrainian military communications while jamming navigation and guidance systems.
“They are blocking everything that can reach their systems,” an official with Aerorozvidka, a Ukrainian agency that develops unmanned aerial vehicles and other military capabilities, told the Associated Press in a report published on Friday. “We can’t say they dominate, but they hinder us a lot.”
According to the report, Russia has blocked GPS receivers on drones used by Ukrainian forces to locate and fire artillery at enemy targets.
Christian Brose, a former aide to Senator John McCain and author of The Death Chainrecalled a story of a Ukrainian officer who said Russians killed a commander after tricking him into sending back a wireless call from his mother, according to the report.
After failing to take Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, earlier in the conflict, Russia’s newly deployed forces appear to be making territorial gains in the eastern Donbass region and poised to drive Ukrainian forces out of Severodonetsk.
This was announced by Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko news week last month that a victory in the region was the focus of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda campaign.
A Congressional Research Service report released in April said that “the Russian military appeared to be unused to many of the systems and capabilities it had amassed prior to the invasion.”
“We have not seen what we believe to be the full extent of their electronic warfare capabilities,” a senior Pentagon official said during a March briefing.
US allies had previously sounded the alarm about Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities. A report by an Estonian think tank concluded that Russia’s technology “will pose a serious challenge to the proper planning and conduct of the NATO defenses of the Baltic States.”
Another report by Jane’s Defense Think Tank found that Ukraine developed its electronic warfare systems after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
As Russia launched its offensive in Donbass, the think tank reported in April that the Russian military was stepping up its use of electronic warfare, along with more unmanned aerial vehicles and increased coordination of artillery with maneuvering units.
Russia may have been reluctant to use electronic warfare over concerns that poorly trained technicians might not use it properly, the Associated Press reported.
“What we’re learning now is that the Russians ended up shutting it down because it was interfering with their own communications so much,” retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former US Army commander in Europe, told the Associated Press.
news week has asked the Russian government for a statement.
https://www.newsweek.com/theyre-jamming-everything-putins-electronic-warfare-turns-tide-war-1712784 Putin’s electronic warfare turns to war