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Ukraine’s Military Says Air Defenses Destroyed 14 Russian Drones

Ukraine’s military said Monday that Russia attacked overnight using 17 drones and an unspecified number of guided missiles.

Ukraine’s air defenses shot down 14 of the Iran-made Shahed drones, as well as one missile, the military said.

The intercepts took place in several Ukrainian regions, including Khmelnytskyi, Vinnytsia, Kirovohrad, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhzhia.

The regional governor in Dnipropetrovsk reported a fire at an energy facility linked to the Russian drone attack.

There were no reports of casualties.

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital minister, told Reuters that Ukraine is planning to produce thousands of its own long-range drones this year that will be capable of conducting attacks deep within Russia.

“The category of long-range kamikaze drones is growing, with a range of 300, 500, 700, and 1,000 kilometers. Two years ago, this category did not exist … at all,” Fedorov told Reuters.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Sunday that Ukraine is working to improve its air defenses and electronic warfare systems, identifying them as key priorities for this year.

Both Russia and Ukraine have intensified their air attacks in recent months, targeting each other’s critical energy, military and transport infrastructure.

Russia Starlink worries

Russia on Monday denied that its troops were using the Starlink satellite communications system in parts of Ukraine it controls.

“This is not a certified system with us; accordingly, it cannot be officially supplied here and is not officially supplied. Accordingly, it cannot be used officially in any way,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

FILE - A Starlink satellite internet system is set up near the frontline town of Bakhmut amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, Donetsk region, Ukraine March 8, 2023.

FILE – A Starlink satellite internet system is set up near the frontline town of Bakhmut amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Donetsk region, Ukraine March 8, 2023.

The denial came a day after Ukraine’s military intelligence said it confirmed earlier reports that Russian troops were using Starlink for their communications on the battlefield. The satellite terminals had been sent to Ukraine after the Russian invasion in 2022. Since then, some of these territories in eastern Ukraine have been occupied by Russian forces.

“Cases of the Russian occupiers’ use of the given devices have been registered. It is beginning to take on a systemic nature,” the Ukrainian defence ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR) quoted spokesman Andriy Yusov as saying.

The GUR said it had intercepted an exchange between two Russian soldiers discussing setting up the terminals. It posted what it said was an audio clip of the exchange on Telegram.

Starlink said on Feb. 8 that its terminals were not active in Russia and that SpaceX had never sold or marketed the service in Russia or shipped equipment to locations in Russia.

In a statement posted on X, Starlink did not say anything about their possible use in occupied areas of Ukraine.

“If SpaceX obtains knowledge that a Starlink terminal is being used by a sanctioned or unauthorized party, we investigate the claim and take actions to deactivate the terminal if confirmed,” it said.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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