Ukrainian soldier says Russia has an edge in the air and its powerful bombs are among the 'biggest fears' for front-line forces

  • Ukraine is making slow and steady territorial gains in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

  • But a communications specialist in Kyiv's military says there are significant challenges, such as Russia's edge in the air.

  • Moscow's guided bombs are among the 'biggest fears' for front-line forces, the soldier said.

As Ukraine advances through offensive operations in the south, its front-line soldiers continue to face dangers from the air, with guided bombs being among their "biggest fears."

A communications specialist in Kyiv's military named Oleksandr Solonko detailed the ongoing fight in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region in a recent X thread. He highlighted the threat posed by Moscow's powerful guided bombs, the challenges of battling through Russia's layered defenses and fortifications — including minefields, trenches, tunnels, and anti-tank obstacles — and the role that aerial reconnaissance, coupled with ranged fires, plays in hindering movement.

Any soldier can be spotted by the enemy from far away, no matter what unit they serve in or the topographical features of the battlefield, Solonko wrote, adding that personnel and equipment can be targeted and fired upon from a distance. Attempting to execute a mission under complete concealment is "mostly impossible," he said, according to a translation of his remarks by another service member.

Solonko also noted "the enemy's advantage in the air," which he said has been a critical factor in Ukraine's armored vehicle losses.

Much of the airspace above the battlefield remains contested after 18 months of full-scale war, but early in the counteroffensive, Russian attack helicopter crews found they could strike from beyond the reach of Ukraine's short-range air defenses. Ukrainian forces have since gotten better about eliminating these threats, but others remain, such as Russian aircraft that can release guided bombs at a distance.

"KAB's are one of the biggest fears," Solonko said, referring to Russia's arsenal of guided bombs. "The russians use them extensively. I can't speak to their accuracy, but the weaponry is powerful." The Ukrainian military has been raising concerns about these kinds of weapons for months, identifying them as serious threats to Ukrainian operations. Some of these bombs can be over 3,000 pounds.

"They attempt to target logistics and command centers, just as we do," he continued, adding that they also fire on roads and forward defenses in settlements.

"The aerial reconnaissance linked system Orlan-Zala-Supercam is effective and causing issues," Solonko said, referring to several different types of Russian drones. "They identify targets and launch [Lancets], releasing them in swarms along with KAB's. They attempt to break through and hunt down vehicles."

Servicemen of the 128th Separate Brigade of Territorial Defence Forces polish first aid skills as they practise storming enemy positions during a tactical drill in the Zaporizhzhia direction, southeastern Ukraine.
Servicemen of the 128th Separate Brigade of Territorial Defence Forces polish first aid skills as they practise storming enemy positions during a tactical drill in the Zaporizhzhia direction, southeastern Ukraine.Photo by Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images

"The recaptured positions are even more calibrated," he added before highlighting the destruction on the front lines. "Bombs are not spared. No lack of mines either. The tree line where one of the crews was operating was simply leveled. Only a palisade remained, and a well-made trench ceased to be usable."

Solonko's commentary came just after Ukrainian forces raised the country's flag in Robotyne, a small village in the Zaporizhzhia region. Kyiv's defense ministry officially confirmed Robotyne's liberation on Monday and published a video of soldiers from the 47th Mechanized Brigade detailing the operation to capture the village.

In the video, a soldier described the covert nighttime mission to raise the Ukrainian flag in Robotyne. He said Kyiv's troops approached and cleared a building. They had limited visibility, though, and weren't sure if they would encounter any traps, so they placed the flag on the first floor. When the sun came up, they realized they could reach the roof so they changed plans and placed the flag up there.

"Thank you to all your brothers-in-arms," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Sunday address to the nation. "And to all our other warriors of different ranks, from different units, who are doing everything possible to ensure that our flag is in all its rightful places, throughout the territory of our state!"

Although Robotyne is quite small, its capture marks a bright moment for Ukraine as it continues to make slow and steady progress amid what has been a grueling and bloody counteroffensive. Clearing Russia's complex and well-established defensive lines has proven to be a painstaking task for Kyiv's troops, preventing them from recapturing territory at a quicker pace.

"For those who are 'overly smart' and believe that the Ukrainian Armed Forces took an incredibly long time to drive the Russians out of the village of Robotyne, they must have missed the defense system that needed to be overcome in order to push the russians away from the Mariupol highway and gradually approach the village, encircle it, and finally seize control," Solonko said. "Truly, a monumental task has been accomplished."

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