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TOPIC: warfare

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Next Target, Crimea? Why Crossing The Dnipro Could Be The Boost Ukraine Needed

International support for Kyiv is waning and calls for negotiations are growing louder. But Ukraine has now managed to establish a bridgehead on the other side of the Dnipro River. From there, its troops could advance to Crimea — and turn the tide of the war.

Updated Nov. 27, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.


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Up Close With The "Beaver" Drones Leading Ukraine's Airborne Counteroffensive

In recent days, multiple drone attacks targeted and hit skyscrapers in Moscow's business district. These strikes are thought to have been led by Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), reportedly belonging to a new category of "Beaver" drones. Here's what we know about them.

MOSCOW — Earlier this week, drones hit the high-rise block where Russia's federal ministries are located. In this latest attack, offices for the Ministry of Economic Development were damaged, with windows blown in. And although the Russian army claims that the drones can be jammed with radio waves, the strikes still succeeded in damaging the building’s facades and interior.

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On Wednesday, Aug. 2, Russia retaliated with a drone attack of its own — on a Ukrainian port at Izmail in Odessa, damaging a grain warehouse, a passenger building and an elevator for loading grain.

Newsweek magazine writes that the Ukrainian attacks were carried out by the latest generation of Ukrainian drones known as "Beaver". Justin Bronk, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), compared said Beaver drone to the Iranian Shahed drones that Russia used in its attacks on Ukrainian cities: the Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have a comparable weight and size and flight range (1,000km), but a larger wingspan.

Analysts note that as it stands, it is unclear whether the Beaver UAV can cope with electronic warfare systems and interference as effectively as the Iranian Shaheds, which have several types of navigation.

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Drones, Tablets, Cigarettes: How Ukraine's Reconnaissance Warriors Pinpoint The Enemy

Near the embattled city of Vuhledar, Ukrainian artillery reconnaissance units detect enemy positions. They work with drones, tablets and satellite internet — and they are often the last line of defense from a Russian onslaught.

VUHLEDAR — It's early in the morning, just before dawn. The artillery reconnaissance units are in Kurakhove, a city in Donetsk oblast, to pick up the equipment supplies that have just arrived from Kyiv: drones, tablets, portable solar power generators and Internet hardware for connection to the Starlink satellite system.

Because of the tremendous strain on the equipment, it needs to be constantly replaced. Everything is loaded into all-terrain vehicles, then they head toward the fiercely contested city of Vuhledar, in southeastern Ukraine, 60 kilometers from Donetsk.

"The task of artillery reconnaissance is to locate and fix enemy targets and to conduct artillery observation," explains commander Zeus, who only gives his combat name, in line with the policy of the Ukrainian army.

Artillery fire is mainly indirect. The target is not visible from the gun, which is usually located four to ten kilometers from the front line.

On the car radio, the music ends, the presenter announces in a solemn voice that Ukrainian troops are retreating in panic from Vuhledar. The men are unimpressed; they know that only Russian stations work in the frontline area.

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Elon Musk, Here's What Unplugging Starlink Means For Ukrainians On The Front Line

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has long been considered one of Ukraine's key supporters, but he has just announced restrictions on the Ukrainian military's use of his Starlink satellites. Die Welt spoke to soldiers on the front lines in Bakhmut who are already feeling the effects.

BAKHMUT — Amid ruins in the eastern Ukrainian frontline town of Chasiv Yar, in front of the shattered window of a high-rise building, Ukrainian soldiers search for Russians on a Monday afternoon.

Bogdan Borodai, 25, part of the 24th Battalion "Aidar", operates a gamepad with buttons and stares at a screen. On it, he sees what their small drone is currently filming from the air.

"That right there," Borodai says, tapping the screen, "is a tank. Every few hours, we spot a bunch of Russian soldiers here."

He says their drone, which costs thousands of euros and is made by the Chinese manufacturer DJI, flies up to 15 kilometers, time and again including into the currently fiercely contested town of Bakhmut. Borodai and his team transmit what they film in real time to their higher-level command center, where they make decisions about firing.

In their drone reconnaissance, Borodai and his team rely on the support of a white portable device they have placed near them. It is a Starlink terminal from the U.S. company SpaceX, founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The Starlink terminals ensure Ukrainian soldiers a stable and fast internet connection everywhere, even in places like Chasiv Yar, where large parts of the infrastructure have been bombed by Russian troops.

"Starlink is one of the most important tools we have in this war," Borodai says. "If that stops now, it would a serious problem."

The soldier has real reasons for concern. In early February, SpaceX announced it would restrict the Ukrainian military's use of Starlink, limiting their possibility to control drones.

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Valentin Badrak

Ukraine, A Guidebook For Our Survival

Faced with a massive invasion by its far more powerful neighbor, Ukrainians must be conscious of the stakes at play and the means that Vladimir Putin is prepared to employ.

The facts must be acknowledged: The "enemy" is here. Vladimir Putin has chosen war. Ukraine now finds itself in a face-off with the Russian bear, its claws sharp, its teeth borne wide. How much hope remains for Ukraine? How much panic is now knocking at our door?

Psychological warfare is key to Putin’s toolbox. Propaganda, intimidation and demoralization: all themes that slipped into Putin’s hour-long speech on Tuesday in which he recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.

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Laurence Caramel

In South Sudan, Peace Does Not Make Hunger Disappear

The survival of more than 7 million people, 60% of the population, depends on international humanitarian aid.

JUBA — In a large room with green walls serving as common room, mothers wait in silence at the bedsides of their children for the doctor's morning visit. Cecilia arrived a few days ago with her son, who is 28 months old and weighs barely more than 10 kilogram — the average weight of a healthy one year old. His body is swollen.

Peace does not fill bellies. Beneath an apparent return to normalcy, malnutrition has gripped Juba, the capital of South Sudan. At the heart of the city, the Al-Sabah Children's Hospital is the only establishment in the country with a department dedicated to the fight against severe acute malnutrition.

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Alain Frachon

Make No Mistake, Cyber War Is A Real And Present Threat


PARIS — Imagine if a foreign entity neutralized the public health system in the Paris region. Or if it went on to attack the electric grid, interfering with the meteorological services, manipulating French President Emmanuel Macron's emails and targeting the military and police communication systems. All from a computer keyboard. Nobody would get killed, at least not directly. No building destroyed. And yet, most commentators, even the most argumentative, would agree: This is an act of war.

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A Human Shield Exposed In The Daylight Of Kashmir

One of the ugliest tactics in modern warfare has been the use of "human shields." From Serbia to Sri Lanka and Gaza, armed combatants have been accused of putting civilian lives at risk on the frontlines in order to protect themselves. If the enemy attacks innocent bystanders on site, it risks committing a grave human rights violation. But even if the 1949 Geneva Conventions rightly stipulates that the use of human shields itself constitutes a war crime, it is a practice that often remains in the shadows.

Last month, a horrifying video circulated on YouTube has brought the practice to light in an unprecedented way in Kashmir, another region long mired in conflict over disputed territory between India and Pakistan.

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Youmna al-Dimashqi and Dylan Collins

Caging Their Kids: How Syrian War Reached A Ghastly New Low

The strongest armed group in Douma, Syria, paraded caged detainees, including Syrian army officers and women and children, for several hours to try to deter future government attacks. Syria Deeply spoke with residents to get their reactions.

DOUMA — This past week the civil war in Syria took a grim new turn. An armed group in Syrian city of Douma, just outside Damascus, placed detained Syrian soldiers and civilians in metal cages and paraded them throughout the city for several hours Sunday as part of a stunt to deter future government airstrikes on the besieged area.

A video posted by the Shaam News Network, a well-known rebel media outlet, shows a series of trucks with cages in the back carrying four to eight men and women each and driving through the rebel stronghold in eastern Ghouta.

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eyes on the U.S.
Jannis Brühl

The Drone Wars: Modern Battlefield Tool Or International War Crime?

NEW YORK — The U.S. government has come in for severe criticism about its use of drones, as many claim that it is violating one of the central tenets of international humanitarian law: Under no circumstances should civilians be the target of military operations. Any country that deliberately crosses that line is guilty of war crimes.

Admittedly, this principle dates back to the 20th century, a time when wars were fought between two armies on a battlefield. Back then it was clear who counted as a soldier. Anyone wearing a uniform was a legitimate target. Anyone else was not.

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Grazia Longo

''I Paid For His Trip'' - Heartbreaking Search For A Missing Brother In Lampedusa

LAMPEDUSA — Two brothers, both with the same dream: escaping the violence and chaos of Eritrea. One has already spent nine years livingthat dream; the other still hasn’t been rescued from the sea that swallowed him last Thursday.

Desperation and grief are in the eyes and voice of Adel, who emigrated to Sweden nine years ago. After a long journey from Stockholm to Lampedusa, with three transit stops along the way, he discovered that he almost certainly will never be able to hug his brother Abrahm again.

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Paul Durand

Life At A Standstill As New Clashes Erupt In Congo

KIWANJA - On a recent weekday morning, time seemed to be standing still in this town in eastern Congo. A strange atmosphere reigns, with most of the shops and stalls closed and the town’s schools empty.

“Bullets can start flying at any time, so we let our students out early,” says a teacher in Kiwanja in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. .

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