Why Did Russia Send Balloons Over Ukraine? – After the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon, as well as three other unidentified flying objects in the days that followed, the Kyiv city-military administration revealed how Russia sent its own balloon over Kyiv.
According to Kyiv officials, “around six enemy air targets” were seen flying over the city on Wednesday, setting off alarms.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Thursday that Russia also fired 36 cruise missiles at Ukraine on Thursday after six radar-reflecting Russian balloons were seen flying over the capital city.
According to the Ukrainian military, most of the balloons were shot down and those that were recovered appeared to have been propelled by the wind. Images shared on social media show how the balloon has a basic design, with a cross-shaped body made of radar-reflecting materials. The cross was hanging from a regular balloon.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said that the balloons were also capable of carrying reconnaissance equipment.
Why Were The Balloons Sent?
Yurii Ihnat speculated that the balloons were deliberately sent to Ukraine to “detect and exhaust our air defense forces.”
The balloons, in that case, not only serve the purpose of forcing Ukraine to deploy rockets to take out the balloons, but may also provide Russia with valuable real-time information from the battlefield.
The decision to send the balloons now may also have been deliberate. Assuming that the unidentified flying objects shot down by the United States military were not also sent by Russia, the decision to send them to Kyiv now – and to send more than one – may have been specifically made with a view to spooking the Kyiv government and Ukrainian military.
Ihnat also warned, however, that it would be foolish to draw parallels between the Chinese balloon in the United States and those seen in Kyiv this week. The Ukrainian military official said Russia is attempting to “distract” Ukraine, and that they could have even been launched from Russian or Belarusians territories.
“I wouldn’t play up this topic,” Ihnat told reporters over the phone. “These are not new. They’re your grandfather’s methods, invented during the Soviet Union.”
The theory that Russia is deliberately attempting to distract Ukraine was also supported by former Ukrainian Naval commander Andriy Ryzhenko who told Ukrainian news outlet TSN that Russian decoys are a bluff ahead of a new Russian offensive in Ukraine.
“It’s such a military ruse. The bullet simulates a large air target. When an air defense system, for example, a radar station, sees this target, he understands that this is not a rocket or an airplane. It’s a target that’s moving at low speed,” Ryzhenko said.
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Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.