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Ukraine really wants this deadly drone – and the US is working on it



As Russian forces retreated in southern Ukraine, the Biden administration announced a slew of new military support packages for Ukraine, but they all lacked equipment the Ukrainian military has long wanted: a multipurpose Gray Eagle drone armed with Hellfire missiles.

The US is studying modifications that could be made to the deadly drone, two officials said. Modifications that would greatly reduce the likelihood of losing the drone — with its sensitive technology — and possibly increase the likelihood that Ukraine will get them.

“There are specific and very technical small adjustments and tweaks that could make this possible in the short term,” a congressional official said. “But these things take time and are quite complex.”

A US spokesman confirmed that the Army is making efforts to study what modifications can be made to the drone, which is manufactured by General Atomics and referred to by the military as the MQ-1C.

“When it comes to drones, it’s better than ever,” says Seth Jones, director of the international security program at the Center for International Strategic Studies. “These are really sophisticated drones.”

However, without any changes, the Gray Eagle, which can carry four Hellfire missiles and fly at an altitude of 25,000 feet for almost 30 hours, is unlikely to be on the next list of military aid to Ukraine.

“There remains real interest in providing this particular system as long as we can make the necessary changes and in a way that will continue to be useful to Ukraine on the battlefield,” the US official said.

Discussions about the Gray Eagle are ongoing, and Ukraine is not being excluded or officially denied, U.S. and Ukrainian officials said. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon rejected Ukraine’s request.

Ukraine “presses”

“We are pushing, we are not giving up,” the Ukrainian representative said. “It’s a matter of survival [para a Ucrânia]”.

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Pentagon spokesman Colonel Roger Cabinines declined to comment specifically on Gray Eagle, saying only that the Department of Defense continues to coordinate with Ukraine on security assistance.

The White House declined to comment and General Atomics did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the lethality of the missiles it carries, the Gray Eagle will give Ukrainian forces more ability to gather intelligence, conduct reconnaissance from a greater distance, expand support for artillery targets on the ground, and counter Russian drones.

Throughout the war, the US was slow and reluctant to provide Ukraine with more advanced and longer-range weapons, such as missiles, that would allow Ukraine to attack Russian territory and, as such, could potentially be viewed by Moscow as a significant escalation of the conflict. conflict.

In the case of the Gray Eagle, the US spokesman said the concern was not so much the escalation of the conflict as technological security, namely the possibility that expensive drones could crash in Ukraine and be recovered by the Russians.

“These are very expensive systems and there are fears that they could be shot down,” the same spokesman said, declining to say which parts of the drone would be more dangerous if they fell into Russian hands.

This is a scenario in which the US has experience. After Iranian drones were shot down in Ukraine, the US was able to study the wreckage, according to The Washington Post.

The US representative declined to elaborate on Gray Eagle’s more sensitive technologies, but said it would not be considered an escalation as similar capabilities are provided.

The technology in question is likely to focus on imaging and intelligence-gathering capabilities and sensors, according to Jones of the Center for International Strategic Studies, suggesting that US fears have more to do with the escalating conflict with Russia.

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“This allows you to fly much farther from the front line,” he said. “I don’t think they would risk using them up close and they wouldn’t need to use them up close as they can fire from a distance and collect data from a distance.”

US modified weapons systems before

This is not the first time that changes have been made to the American delivery systems to Ukraine. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that classified components had been removed from Stinger anti-aircraft missiles by loosening only a few bolts. This was enough for the US to send them.

As with the Gray Eagle, the US has also turned down requests for ATAMCS long-range missiles with a range of about 300 kilometers. Ukraine is so eager to get them that it has offered the US a remarkable level of transparency by sharing its goals, sources told CNN.

“We need ATACMS,” repeated the Ukrainian representative when asked what else besides the Gray Eagle was at the top of the wish list.

The $400 million package for Ukraine, announced in early November, included a new commitment to supply more than 1,000 Phoenix Ghost drones. Unlike the Gray Eagles, these are smaller disposable suicide drones.

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in late March, the Biden administration has backed Ukraine with increasingly sophisticated weapons. To promote, trying not to cross the line, which, in their opinion, Russia would consider excessive.

Last week, President Joe Biden confirmed his team’s concerns, telling reporters at a press conference, “I don’t intend to [a Ucrânia] start bombing Russian territory.”

Biden highlighted the fact that while the US has provided Ukraine with high-performance HIMARS mobile missile systems, it has not provided the long-range munitions that accompany those systems, including ATACMS.

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No NATO country has sent fighter jets to Ukraine, perhaps the most debated issue of what weapons should be provided to Ukraine.

The planes are still under consideration, according to three people familiar with the matter. Whether you mean US military aircraft or Soviet-made fighter jets like the MiG-29 is a key part of the conversation. The US could ask a country like Poland to provide Ukraine with MiG-29s and Poland with American fighter jets.

Sending U.S. warplanes directly to Ukraine doesn’t make much sense, a congressional official said, because there is little air combat, Ukrainian pilots aren’t trained to operate the planes, and the planes require serious maintenance.

Then there is the question of how this will affect the calculations of Russian President Vladimir Putin, given the fear that he might use nuclear weapons.

Are we adding measures that Putin can tolerate to a bucket that could overflow at any moment? asked another person familiar with the discussions. “What level is this bucket now? And how much do we propose to add? These are things that US intelligence and defense officials are always trying to understand.”

Ukrainian authorities are becoming increasingly frustrated with general escalation fears, pointing out that they may have used HIMARS — the most advanced U.S. system in Ukraine to date — to infiltrate Russian territory, but have not done so.

“Honestly, this is all nonsense. What is the ascent? the Ukrainian representative asked. “That they dropped a nuclear bomb? Or what are we afraid of? I do not understand.”

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.



Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia



A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization



“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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