General Kyrylo Budanov, 37, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief poses in his office on February 15,2023 in Kyiv,Ukraine.
Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images
Ukraine’s head of defense intelligence discussed his military drone campaign with The Economist.
He said Ukraine is targeting air defenses, military sites, and military production facilities.
Ukraine last week used drones to blow up an air defense system in occupied Crimea.
Ukraine has launched a drone campaign that plans to exhaust Russia’s air defenses, disable its bombers, and damage military production, according to Ukraine’s head of military intelligence.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Economist, Lieutenant-General Kyrylo Budanov, outlined his three main objectives for Ukraine’s drone strikes against Russia.
Budanov, who is the mastermind behind Ukraine’s covert warfare program, told the publication that Ukraine is ramping up the domestic production of weapons that can strike deep behind Russia’s front lines, such as long-range missiles and drones.
“Drones will definitely make the operations to liberate our territories easier. Drones have no fear. You don’t feel sorry for them,” he told the outlet.
Police officers block off an area around a damaged office block of the Moscow International Business Center (Moskva City) following a reported drone attack in Moscow on August 1, 2023.
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images
Budanov said that a secondary aim was seeding anxiety in Russia’s civilian population, and disrupting the Russian economy.
“We want to get them out of their comfort zone,” he told The Economist.
In the initial months of the conflict, Ukraine was limited in its capacity to strike targets in Russia. The weapons that would’ve enabled it to do so, such as long-range missiles, were donated by the West.
That meant they had strict limits on their use against targets in Russia, with the West fearing an escalation of the conflict.
But Ukraine has in recent months developed its own long-range weapons, and there are no restrictions on using them within Russia.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has launched a series of attacks on targets deep behind Russian defensive lines in south and east Ukraine.
Drones and missiles were used to damage Russia’s Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol last week and an aviation fuel production plant in Tver, near Moscow.
Meanwhile, drone attacks in the Russian capital are causing frequent disruptions at Moscow’s main international airport.
Ukraine also destroyed an expensive Russian air defense system in Crimea last week using missiles and drones.
Budanov in the interview rejected criticisms that the attacks could escalate the war and said Ukraine was not targeting Russian civilians.
Russia has deliberately attacked Ukrainian civilians during the conflict, killing around 10,000, the UN’s human rights office said in early September.
The Russian military is expected to launch another wave of attacks aimed at crippling Ukraine’s infrastructure over the winter, and Budanov told The Economist that Ukraine was developing a capacity to retaliate to the attacks.