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Russian army forms mobile fire groups following failure of its air defense to deter Ukrainian drone attacks

Ukraine has been actively attacking Russian refineries in recent weeks
Ukraine has been actively attacking Russian refineries in recent weeks

The Russian military is initiating the formation of mobile fire groups in response to Ukrainian drone strike threats, though challenges in scaling up deployment are anticipated in the near future, the U.S.-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote on March 30.

Russian state propaganda outlet Izvestia reported that Russian military sources stated that the Russian military is forming mobile fire groups within unspecified combined arms armies (CAAs) and air force and air defense armies to combat drones, and will equip these groups with thermal imagers, electronic warfare (EW) systems, and machine guns mounted on pickup trucks.

Read also: Russia’s National Guard blamed for failing to protect oil refineries — report

Izvestia did not report where the Russian military intends to field the mobile fire groups or the size or echelon of these groups. The Russian military notably faces Ukrainian drone threats both within occupied Ukraine as well as within Russia at oil refineries and other critical infrastructure supporting Russia’s war effort, and it is unclear if these mobile groups will be able to defend the extent of territory that Ukrainian drones target.

Izvestia’s description of the Russian mobile fire groups is similar to Ukrainian tactical mobile fire groups, which the Ukrainian military started to deploy at scale in the spring of 2023 to defend against routine Russian Shahed-136/131 drone strikes.

Read also: U.S. does not support Ukraine’s attacks on Russian oil refineries, but is there a request to stop?

Ukrainian forces have long been conducting drone strikes against Russian targets in occupied Ukraine, and the Russian military command’s decision to form the mobile fire groups is likely in response to the recent intensification of Ukrainian drone strikes against Russian oil refineries in February and March.

The formation of the mobile fire groups indicates that Russia may be unable to deploy conventional air defense systems, such as Pantsir-S1 or S-300 /400 systems, to all critical facilities within western Russia.

Read also: Ukraine’s drone strike campaign against Russian oil refineries

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine