A Blog by Jonathan Low


Nov 15, 2023

How Ukraine's "Baba Yaga" Witch Drones Crush Russian Attacks At Avdiivka

Ukrainian drone operators are thwarting Russia's continuous failed attacks around Avdiivka, using a combination of increasingly accurate and lethal kamikaze drones as well as new, heavyweight 8 bladed octocopters which are so fearsome the Russians are calling them "Baba Yaga," a witch in Russian folklore who steals, cooks and eats children. JL 

Euromaidan Press reports:

At Avdiivka, Ukrainian forces rebuffed recent Russian attacks on Stepove. Russian sources complain that Ukrainian drones are making the contact line untenable for Russian forces. Ukrainian drone operators sent kamikaze drones inside vehicles (and) the Russians abandoned some trenches. The biggest Russian nightmare are heavy Ukrainian octocopters the Russians call “Baba Yaga” (a witch in Slavic folklore who steals, cooks and eats children). These drones carry much more powerful explosives and can wipe out a whole squad. The Russians have also lost 8 aircraft above Avdiivka.

On 14 November, there were a lot of updates from the Avdiivka direction. Here, Russian forces faced tough resistance in the northern part of the region, and in an attempt to continue their offensive operation, they started shifting their focus south in hopes of finding a weak spot.

First of all, on 14 Nov., it was confirmed that Ukrainian forces indeed managed to rebuff the recent Russian attacks on Stepove.

Last time, I told you that Russian forces gradually accumulated a critical amount of force and launched an attack with the goal of establishing control over the settlement. Even though Russians initially entered the outskirts, the whole assault unit was destroyed. This opened a window of opportunity for Ukrainian forces to conduct a counterattack, as Russians lost some manpower concentrated along the railways.

As a result, the tree lines in front of Stepove became in the grey zone, while Russians stepped back behind the rails to rely on the main strong point located at the intersection of the tree lines.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

Recently released geolocated footage shows that Ukrainians concentrated their fire precisely on this strong point. Ukrainian drone operators spotted that Russians had created a new shelter and started launching kamikaze drones. As a result, those Russians who survived were seen running away east of the position. As it turned out, they found the closest destroyed equipment to hide. Ukrainian drone operators identified such shelters and sent kamikaze drones right inside the vehicles. Judging by the video, it is clear that Russians abandoned some of the trenches, however, it is not obvious whether Ukrainians can cross the railways to assume them.

Some Russian sources claimed that Russian forces managed to enter the territory of the chemical plant.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

After bombing the plant repeatedly with FAB-500 air-dropped bombs, Russian forces reportedly undermined the Ukrainian defense significantly, then used incendiary munitions to immobilize Ukrainians, as it would be dangerous for them to stay in the open, and then entered the territory of the plant.

Ukrainian fighters challenged these claims and reported that the chemical plant was under tight protection and Russians were unable to even get close to entering the plant.

Instead, Russians actually lost a fighter jet Su-25 during their attempt to conduct an airstrike. In total, over the last month, Russians have already lost 8 aircraft just above Avdiivka.

Moreover, Ukrainian fighters released a lot of videos showing how they are targeting Russian forces in front of the chemical plant.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

A Ukrainian drone operator from the famous one-hundred-tenth brigade showed how their fighters were hunting down Russian equipment and destroying firing points on Terrikon. One video shows the destruction of what looks like an ATGM position, while another one shows the destruction of what looks like an observation post.

Fighters from the “Shadow” Assault Drone Detachment were also active in the area and liquidated the enemy manpower that was present on the mount. But the biggest Russian nightmare is heavy octocopters that they are calling “Baba Yaga”. These drones carry much more powerful explosives and can wipe out the whole squad in one blow. That is why Russians are willing to crush their own drones into them in hopes that they fall. Usually, Russians lose their drones in vain, as the octocopters remain virtually intact.

Russian sources complained that Ukrainian drones are making the contact line simply untenable for Russian forces. And this is not surprising, as Russians cannot protect their forces with electronic warfare systems.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

The reason why it’s not possible to mitigate the threat from Ukrainian drones is twofold. First of all, the Russian bridgehead around Krasnohorivka is too far from the main Russian bases in Donetsk and Makiivka, so suppressing the drones with electronic warfare systems at such a distance is virtually impossible. Secondly, Ukrainian forces understand that ensuring the freedom of movement for their drone operators is an indispensable part of the defensive operations, which is why Ukrainian special forces are monitoring the area tightly and prioritize the destruction of Russian electronic warfare systems that get relocated closer to Krasnohorivka. In the meantime, the experience of Russian drone operators is completely the opposite. Since they are operating so close to the Ukrainian stronghold, they are suffering from powerful electronic warfare systems and losing their drones in large numbers.

On 14 November, Russian sources released a video showing how they are trying to collect their lost drones in the grass.

Overall, Ukrainians managed to stabilize the situation in the northern part of the region by leveraging one of their key advantages. By operating close to their main stronghold, Ukrainians can use assault drones virtually with impunity.

Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

Unlike artillery shells, drones are guided and can target the enemy dynamically. As seen in the videos from the Stepove area, Russian soldiers who are holding open trenches are willing to abandon them very quickly because they know that if they stay, their chances of survival are close to zero.


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