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The U.K. is reportedly considering returning a portion of its Ukrainian training mission to Ukrainian soil in a major shift in policy.
The British Defense Minister has reportedly discussed plans to move more training and production for Ukraine's war effort back to the country's territory. Speaking with The Telegraph, Defense Minister Grant Shapps said he spoke to British Army leadership about shifting parts of Operation Interflex, the Britain-based training program, back to bases on Ukrainian soil.
The remarks came in the wake of Ukraine's International Defense Industries Forum, a collaborative conference with international arms makers attempting to overhaul Ukraine’s domestic arms industry. Defense firms from the United States, U.K., Germany, France, Turkey, Sweden, the Czech Republic and others met with Ukrainian officials for talks on joint armament production.
To that end, Shapps further called on British defense firms to establish production in Ukraine, and said he talked with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about a potential Royal Navy role in protecting Ukrainian shipping in the Black Sea.
Both discussed proposals on land and at sea would be significant changes in the U.K.'s strategy to support Kyiv. NATO troops previously trained Ukrainian forces for nearly seven years beginning in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the War in the Donbas. That training mission continued even as concerns over Russia’s buildup on the border grew louder. Apart from troops performing security at embassies or during diplomatic visits, and despite many Russian claims otherwise, no NATO troops have officially walked on Ukrainian soil in any capacity since the war began.
While a training mission is not ostensibly a combat role, there are major concerns that doing so could risk for escalation should Russian forces target NATO troops in Ukraine. In March 2022, Russian cruise missiles struck the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security outside Yavoriv, Ukraine, killing 35 and wounding 134. The base and maneuver area, less than 20 kilometers from the Polish border, previously housed members of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. Royal Navy escorts in the Black Sea on the other hand, however, would invariably put themselves between Russian forces and Ukrainian ships.
NATO forces have taken great care to avoid ending up in the fight. There have been dangerous close calls in Poland and over the Black Sea, not to mention Russian drones recently ending up in Romania. Exact details of what the U.K. is considering remain uncertain, but neither London nor its NATO allies will likely take those steps unless they are ready to meet those risks.
Before we head into the latest from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.
Among other defense forum headlines is a $100 million investment from Turkish drone maker Bayraktar toward a UAV production facility. Bayraktar TB-2 drones became an early staple of Ukraine’s war effort, notably for strikes on and around Snake Island. Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted a photo with the company’s CEO Haluk Bayraktar lauding the agreement.
Also from the conference, Ukraine may soon take over production of the Czech BZ BREN 2 assault rifle. The modular rifle comes chambered in either NATO 5.56x45mm or the Russian 7.62x39mm cartridge. Proposals also included joint production of ammunition, armored vehicles, and the TATRA chassis of utility trucks.
Wreckage believed to be from the Russian Su-35S shot down over Zaporizhia Oblast was found, the shootdown now believed to have been friendly fire. You can read our full coverage of the incident here.
Russia may be bringing Wagner PMC mercenaries back into the fold, albeit under cautious and watchful eyes. In its latest intelligence update, the British Ministry of Defense noted the public appearance of former Wagner Chief of Staff Andrei Troshev with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. Putin asked Troshev specifically to begin forming units for combat in Ukraine.
Wagner veterans may see Troshev as a traitor, owing to the fact he took up a position with the official Russian Armed Forces around the time of the ill-fated coup attempt, the MoD reported. Moscow’s public embrace of Troshev fits with its continued reliance on volunteer and private military companies, and possibly a careful reconstitution of Wagner itself.
Apart from volunteers and mercenaries, Russia will begin a new push of conscription on Oct. 1. The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced those drafted in the surge beginning Sunday will not be sent to Ukraine. However, when Moscow’s mobilization began a year ago, many of its hap-hazard conscripts ended up at the frontline in short order.
Ukraine appears to have attacked a Russian electricity substation in Bryansk Oblast with a drone.
While strikes into Russia are increasingly common, targeting power infrastructure may well be a conspicuous threat as winter nears. Russian drone and missile attacks wrought havoc on Ukraine’s power grid last winter until new air defenses could blunt the blow. Kyiv may be trying to give Moscow a taste of its own medicine as temperatures fall.
On the opposite end of airstrikes, a Ukrainian invention reportedly offers early warning for Russian kamikaze drone attacks. A tweet claims the small, dual-antenna device scans for frequencies used to control Russian drones and alerts the user by proximity.
Fighting remains brutally intense along the frontline, with footage from Ukrainian sources showing intense firefights in several sectors.
First, a lengthy clip from the 80th Air Assault Brigade in Klishchiivka shows infantry defending positions from a Russian counterattack. Russian troops continue efforts to retake the bombed-out village south of Bakhmut.
In the southern front’s Melitopol direction, video from the 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade shows mechanized infantry working with a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and a Leopard 2A6 tank against Russian forces.
Also in the south, video shows Ukrainian soldiers walking past an array of concrete “Dragon’s Teeth” anti-tank fortifications on the southern front. It’s the latest indication of just how far the Ukrainian salient has reached into Russian-held territory.
The entire frontline from the Dniepr River delta near Kherson up to the Russian border may have seen its most thunderous days yet. Infrared satellite imagery tracking war-related fires from artillery reportedly recorded the most intense bombardments in the war so far September 27-28.
Ukrainian drones scored kills on two advanced Russian radar systems in recent days. Drone operators separately destroyed a Kasta 2E surveillance radar in Kursk Oblast, and a 55Zh6u “Nebo-U” radar.
The Kasta 2E system comes from the Soviet-era line of “Flat Face” and “Squat Eye” surveillance radars used for low-altitude target acquisition. Its predecessors cued engagement radars for S-125 (NATO: SA-3 “Goa”) SAM sites in Russia and elsewhere, with the Kasta retaining the old system’s mobility on a 6x6 KAMAZ truck chassis.
The much larger 55Zh6u “Nebo-U” is an entirely different animal, however. Codenamed “Tall Rack” by NATO, the trailered system uses a phased array antenna and is claimed to be effective against low-observability targets. Footage shows the antenna rotating in one of the attack clips.
Meanwhile, Russian first-person-view (FPV) drone operators are training to attack Ukrainian equipment concealed within buildings. The operators are reportedly practicing flying through windows and other openings to deliver payloads to targets therein.
Ukrainian FPV operators have a new compilation clip, showing hits on Russian armored vehicles, artillery, soldiers and support equipment.
A video shows a series of counter-battery strikes by Ukrainian GMLRS rockets against Russian artillery. A BM-21 Grad, BM-27 Uragan, and a 2A36 Giatsint-B field gun were hit in the strikes.
Two Russian Project 03160 Raptor-class patrol boats were seen on trucks headed toward Sevastopol along a highway in occupied Crimea.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claims it has conducted an operation to evacuate two Ukrainian paratroopers who have been in Russian-held territory for more than a year and a half. The two were seriously wounded in the invasion’s opening battles and could not safely reach friendly territory, reportedly relying on locals’ support until their rescue.
A British-supplied Stormer HVM SAM shot down a Russian UAV with one of its Martlet missiles, video capturing the launch and shootdown over the frontline.
In the “cope cage” category, a Russian T-55 tank adorned with “Z” identification marks was seen with a towering cage over its turret. Covered with grass and other materials, the modification gives the tank a decidedly tall profile in exchange for dubious protection from drone-dropped munitions and anti-tank weapons.
The Ukrainian Air Force has some beautiful cockpit footage from one of its MiG-29 pilots flying over the country. The video shows both low-altitude flights over farmland as well as operations high above the clouds.
Lastly, there’s some rather curious footage of a soldier trying to fire an AT4 anti-tank rocket. With neither a firm grip on the launcher nor the use of its provided handle or strap, the rocket fires wildly and the casing shoots backward from the launcher. We’re guessing an AT4 is also dangerously loud without ear protection.
That’s all for now. We’ll update this story when there’s more to report on Ukraine.
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