Ukraine uses Turkish combat drones to strike Russian military in Donbas

The Ukrainian Armed Forces used Turkish Bayraktar drones in the Donbas  for the first time.

According to the Ukrainian General Staff, the drones were used to destroy the enemy artillery that was firing near the village of Granitne near Donetsk.

Ukraine purchased the drone systems from Turkey in 2019 and up until now used them only for reconnaissance functions.

According to the Ukrainian General Staff, this time a drone was used to strike howitzers, which were firing at the positions of the Ukrainian military.

One Ukrainian soldier was wounded after pro-Russian militants began shelling Ukrainian positions. The Ukrainian Armed Forces sent a request for an immediate ceasefire through the OSCE, but there was no response, the Ukrainian General Staff said.

Bayraktars were used because "the Russians were firing from a distance of more than 15 kilometers", and this is "too far for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to be able to identify and destroy the firing positions using standard means," said volunteer Roman Donnik.

The Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov revealed the details of the operation, citing informed sources. According to him, the pro-Russian militants shelled positions of the Ukrainian 93d Brigade using D-30 howitzers near the village of Granitne. As a result of the shelling, a Ukrainian serviceman was mortally wounded.

"Response" arrived very quickly in the form of a combat Bayraktar TB2 drone, Butusov said.

"For the first time, the Ukrainian Armed Forces used Bayraktar during counter-battery warfare, and the Russian howitzer was destroyed by a guided munition," the journalist wrote.

According to Butusov, the Russians deployed their artillery battery right on the road without hiding it. They were sure that this would go unpunished, as they were firing from a long distance.

According to Butusov, Russia uses electronic warfare and air defense systems in this area. However, the Russians could not detect the drone.

"After this strike, the Russian artillery crews scattered through the bushes, and this artillery battery stopped its fire," the journalist wrote.

Butusov said that the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Valery Zaluzhny personally gave the order to use Bayraktar .

The self-proclaimed DPR and LPR accused the Ukrainian army of trying to advance past the front line and escalating hostilities.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have received 12 Bayraktar drones. The Turkish drones are believe to have contributed  to the success of the Azerbaijani army in the war for Nagorno-Karabakh, and a year earlier helped the Libyan government repel the attack of Kremlin-backed Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Capable of staying in the air for up to 12 hours and carrying up to four missiles, Bayraktar belongs to the class of tactical medium-altitude long-range attack drones. It is controlled from a distance of up to 150 km from the ground-based station.

In September, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Valery Zaluzhny, said that Ukraine plans to purchase another 24 Turkish drones, increasing  their total number threefold.

  Donbas, Bayraktar, Ukraine