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Ukraine Repels Barrage of Iran-Made Shaheed Drones



In a five-and-a-half-hour barrage, Russia attacked Ukraine overnight with dozens of drones, injuring at least one civilian and damaging a gas pipeline as well as residential buildings in the river and seaport of Mykolaiv, Ukraine’s military said Sunday.

Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said Ukraine’s air force defense systems downed 40 out of the 45 Russia-launched, Iran-made Shahed attack drones.

“The air alert in the capital lasted almost two hours,” he said on Telegram.

According to preliminary information, there were neither casualties nor destruction in or near the capital.

In southern Ukraine, the military command said on Telegram that its air defense systems were engaged for more than five hours and destroyed 26 Russia-launched Shahed drones over several southern regions, mainly over the Mykolaiv region near the Black Sea.

At least one civilian was injured there from the falling debris.

“The priority for the enemy was again the coastal strip of infrastructure and agro-industrial facilities,” the military said.

Falling debris from a downed drone and the blast wave damaged residential buildings and a gas pipeline in Mykolaiv, the military command said.

Four drones were downed over the Black Sea port of Odesa, the military said.

The Reuters news agency was not able to independently verify the reports.

Both Russia and Ukraine have intensified their air attacks in recent months, targeting each other’s critical energy, military and transport infrastructure.

Ukraine Cabinet shakeup

The strikes come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues the shakeup of his top brass, while trying to maintain momentum against attacking Russian forces.

Kyiv announced Sunday that former deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Alexander Pavlyuk would become the new commander of Ukraine’s ground forces. The post was previously held by Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, who was named Thursday as the replacement for Ukraine’s outgoing military chief, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi.

New presidential decrees also named Yurii Sodol, the former head of Ukraine’s marine corps, as the new commander of Ukraine’s combined forces, Brig. Gen. Ihor Skibiuk as commander of Ukraine’s air assault forces, and Maj. Gen. Ihor Plahuta as commander of Ukraine’s territorial defense forces.

Incoming commander-in-chief Syrskyi has indicated that his immediate goals include improving troop rotation at the front lines and harnessing the power of new technology while Ukrainian forces are largely on the defensive.

Russia Starlink worries

Ukraine’s military intelligence said it has confirmed earlier reports that Russian troops are using Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite communications system for their communications on the battlefield. The satellite terminals had been sent to Ukraine after the Russian invasion in 2022. Since then, some of these territories in eastern Ukraine have been occupied by Russian forces.

The Ukrainian defense ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, or GUR, said they confirmed the system’s use by Russian forces.

“Cases of the Russian occupiers’ use of the given devices have been registered. It is beginning to take on a systemic nature,” GUR quoted spokesperson Andriy Yusov as saying.

Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

The GUR said it had intercepted an exchange between two Russian soldiers discussing setting up the terminals. It posted what it said was an audio clip of the exchange on Telegram.

The GUR did not specify how it thought the terminals had been obtained by Russian forces.

Starlink said on February 8 that its terminals were not active in Russia and that SpaceX had never sold or marketed the service in Russia or shipped equipment to locations in Russia.

In a statement posted on X, Starlink did not say anything about their possible use in occupied areas of Ukraine.

“If SpaceX obtains knowledge that a Starlink terminal is being used by a sanctioned or unauthorized party, we investigate the claim and take actions to deactivate the terminal if confirmed,” it said.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.


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