Drone Attack Shows Russia to Be both Desperate and Dangerous

CC™ VuewPoint

By Jason Simpkins

The U.S. military has the most extensive reach of any military in the world. 

We can get anywhere at any time. 

We also routinely conduct aerial surveillance operations and freedom of navigation missions around the globe, even — or rather, especially — in contested territory. 

It’s a projection of strength and resolve, and it often yields vital information and data.

Of course, that also means U.S. forces are harassed on a fairly routine basis. 

For example, as far back as 2020, the Pentagon estimated that roughly 90% of U.S. reconnaissance flights over the Black Sea were being intercepted by Russian jets. 

However, what’s discomforting about this week’s confrontation is that the MQ-9 Reaper drone being harassed was knocked out of commission and crashed into the Black Sea.

That much is fairly certain, because on Thursday the Pentagon released declassified footage of the incident corroborating their claims. 

What’s not clear is whether or not the collision was intentional. 

On the one hand, it may not have been…

Yes, the Russian pilots were obviously dispatched to harass the Reaper. That’s something they accomplished by dumping gallons of fuel on it. 

But they weren’t necessarily meant to disable it. That might have been the accidental result of human error — a drunk Russian pilot just getting a little too close, you know?

Or maybe they did mean to do it. 

After all, Russia is losing a war to a supposedly inferior enemy thanks in large part to the financial and military assistance being provided by the United States and its allies.

Of course they’re pissed. Pissed and desperate. 

But rather than straightforwardly shoot the drone down, creating an even bigger incident and further antagonizing the United States, it makes more sense to “accidentally” bump into it.

In that context, even if it were a mistake, it’s one Vladimir Putin would probably term a “happy accident.”

Especially when you consider Russian forces immediately raced to the area of the crash in an effort to recover the wreckage.  

Or attempt to, anyway. There’s no sign yet that they’ve been successful in that endeavor. And if their vessels loiter too long 70 miles off the coast of Crimea, they could become targets for Ukrainian forces.

Speaking of which, the highly hyped Russian counteroffensive that was supposed to come this spring has so far been a dud. 

After months of bloody battles, Russian forces have still been unable to capture the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which isn’t even an especially vital stronghold. 

Russia’s mercenary group Wagner has been throwing waves of bodies at the city but Ukrainian forces claim to be killing them at a ratio of 5-to-1. 

Now, with the effort waning, Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin is accusing Russia’s regular army and officials in Moscow of sabotaging his group by withholding information. 

At this point, the only thing that could salvage the battle for Russia is Ukrainian forces running out of ammunition. 

And that’s the direct result of Putin’s willingness to forfeit so many soldiers’ lives — a policy that is equally as unsustainable as non-stop artillery barrages.

More than 200,000 Russians are estimated to have been wounded or killed since the start of the war. The Wagner Group in Bakhmut consists largely of convicts drawn from the prison population and promised pardons in exchange for their service. 

But elsewhere, poorly equipped and under-trained Russian conscripts are being mowed down by the dozens. And their loved ones back home are getting increasingly vocal.

Putin’s regime doesn’t tolerate protests, but with so many Russians dying in such a questionable mission, it’s hard to keep the outrage muted.

Of course, Putin himself is unlikely to be moved by such protests or accept the fact that his misguided attempt to cement his legacy as a conqueror and reunifier of Russian lands has failed. 

So he’s more likely to put more pressure on his generals and advisers and to take more drastic measures to win some kind of face-saving victory. 

Lost in the uproar over the downed Reaper drone was news that Russia deployed advanced and powerful hypersonic missiles to destroy a Ukrainian power plant. 

The missiles are long-range, are highly maneuverable, and fly as fast as Mach 5, which is more than a mile per second. 

These missiles are difficult to detect because they move so quickly that typical air defense systems are useless against them.

In fact, they’re so advanced that the United States doesn’t have any that match them. 

And that’s why the Pentagon has launched a multibillion-dollar effort to get our armed forces up to speed.

Let the arms race begin once again!