NewsRussian electronic warfare disrupts Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv

Russian electronic warfare disrupts Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv

Russians "turned off" Starlinks? "We were blinded"
Russians "turned off" Starlinks? "We were blinded"
Images source: © Agencja Forum, Getty Images | LISI NIESNER, Pierre Crom, Reuters

8:54 PM EDT, May 18, 2024

On May 10, during the renewed invasion of the Kharkiv region, the Russians managed to jam the Starlink satellite internet, reports "The Washington Post," citing a conversation with the drone unit commander from Ukraine's 125th Territorial Defense Brigade. "At one point, we were completely blinded," said the Ukrainian soldier.

Despite months of anticipating Russia's new offensive through the northeastern border, stationed Ukrainian soldiers were still surprised and unprepared to defend against it.

Russian offensive towards Kharkiv

The Ukrainian 125th Territorial Defense Brigade stretched along approximately 25 miles of the Kharkiv region's border with Russia and used reconnaissance drones for daily monitoring. They knew that Moscow was constantly amassing forces for a potential attack. However, on the morning of May 10, the brigade lost all video channels due to Russian electronic interference, according to "The Washington Post."

Starlink devices, the satellite internet used by the Ukrainian army for essential communication, failed and were completely shut down for the first time since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

"We were left at a certain point completely blind"

"We were left at a certain point completely blind," said the drone unit commander in the brigade. "This was the biggest problem, we didn’t see how they were moving, we only worked through radio or through phones where they still worked," said "Artist," a 53-year-old sergeant. According to him, the drone power "simply disappeared."

Within a few days, the Russians captured about 50 square miles of territory along the border for the second time, taking advantage of a moment of particular vulnerability for the Ukrainian army.

Battle map from May 10, 2024:

Fatal US move. Delay reason for frontline disaster

The US aid package, including funding for valuable artillery and air defense munitions, has been in Congress for over six months. Ukrainians on the front lines often could not respond with fire to Russian attacks.

Offensive on Kharkiv. 05/10/2024.
Offensive on Kharkiv. 05/10/2024.© DeepState

Meanwhile, despite military personnel's months-long complaints about staffing shortages and extreme exhaustion among soldiers fighting for over two years, the government in Kyiv was slowly increasing mobilization, leaving critical staffing shortages in some areas of the front.

However, Russia's battlefield gains in recent days were not solely due to Ukraine's shortages.

Battle map from May 16, 2024:

Russians learned their lessons. Better prepared

With regret, Ukrainian soldiers admitted that their enemy had become smarter and adapted, especially thanks to technological advances in electronic warfare— a sharp contrast to the first year of the invasion when Russia's mistakes and overconfidence allowed Ukrainians to hold key cities and later liberate large swathes of territory in successful counteroffensives.

Offensive on the Kharkiv Oblast on 16.05.2024.
Offensive on the Kharkiv Oblast on 16.05.2024.© DeepState

New Russian advances in Kharkiv and the neighboring Donetsk region have raised questions about the viability of Ukraine's defense—not only whether Kyiv will be able to fulfill the promise of expelling all invaders, but also whether Russia will soon defeat Ukrainian forces and capture more territory.

The recent attack on the Kharkiv border forced Ukraine to redirect some reserves north, potentially jeopardizing other positions in the Ukrainian defense line.

"Artist," the drone commander in the 125th Brigade, said that Ukrainians could not build the kind of fortified defensive lines that the government and military commanders are currently emphasizing. These couldn't be built due to heavy shelling, and heavy equipment couldn't be brought in because the Russians would destroy it immediately.

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