Drones in the river conflict in Ukraine mean that nowhere is secure

There aren’t many locations in Ukraine where you can view Russian-occupied land with the unaided eye. One of them is the Kherson city’s western bank of the Dnipro River. The Russian forces are on the other low, muddy riverbank, and although you cannot see them, you know they exist. A stark reminder is provided by approaching artillery fire as we approach an abandoned apartment building. The practice of shelling during a battle is not new. However, the unit we’re meeting with focuses on drones, one of the major advances of this invasion.

We are guided inside from the bitterly cold winter winds to the warmth of as we hug the side of the building and seek shelter in the stairway. These Ukrainian troops, seated in recliners with calm, focused expressions and cans of Monster energy drink, are surrounded by the aroma of a strawberry vape. You can only assume that they didn’t choose the floral wallpaper. The twenty-year-old pilot Artem sits up out of the blue. They’re informed that drones have been launched by the Russians from across the sea.

According to Tymur, leader of the Samosud unit in the 11th National Guard Brigade of Ukraine, “it’s from a location known to us.” “We want to take out the pilots. We are currently in the air, having obtained the coordinates.” A minimum of twelve drones are lying on the ground, all of them equipped with grenades. The unofficial mascot of the unit, a cat, licks at one of the propellers. Artem dons his virtual reality headset and takes one drone outside. He flies it across the river into occupied territory, and we watch on TV. It is impossible to see any evident evidence of life from this vantage point. Artem’s drone reaches an industrial location a few kilometers later. It goes past a warehouse and hovers over a complex of apartments, identical to the one we are in.

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