Ukraine forces have astonished observers with, among many other actions defending their homeland, their innovative and deft deployment of UAVs as reconnaissance and combat craft. But those aerial assets don’t always complete their missions as planned, as witnessed by a new video capturing a Russian soldier pitching drone-dropped grenades away before they can explode.
The footage was uploaded Sunday by UK daily The Independent. The video focuses on someone identified as a Russian soldier lying on his side in a shallow trench, where he repeatedly snatches up bombs dropped from a drone deployed by Ukraine defenders – chucking them away with an annoyed attitude before they can detonate. The second of those explodes off-screen a split second after it is tossed off.
Presumably the munitions either contained a timer rather than impact detonator, or were partially defective.
Either way, in addition to providing a reminder that not even masterful Ukraine deployment of drones to fend off Russian invaders can succeed every time, the video offers what seems to be an astonishing demonstration of the human toll the war is inflicting on invading forces, too.
Though it’s possible the soldier might have been lying in the shallow trench for protection against bullets fired, the Russian targeted appears to be trying to sleep – or at least rest – and sufficiently exhausted that a drone-jettisoned grenade landing literally on top of him elicits nothing more than a quick movement to get rid of it before it kills him. The gesture suggests more annoyance than panic – a bit like someone dealing with a persistent mosquito making sleep impossible.
Even after the Ukraine drone drops the first bomb without killing him, the Russian soldier merely clambers several meters away and lies down again – where the video shows a second grenade landing right in the crook between his chest and bent legs. Again, he fishes the munition out and pitches it away, with smoke from the explosion immediately wafting over him.
In spite of the obvious intention of the Ukraine drone pilots to complete their mission as planned, the Russian remains lying in the same fetal position as a third, visibly different kind of bomb lands a few meters away and detonates on impact. That neither injures the apparently exhausted fighter, nor fails to goad him into moving farther off for cover.
If authentic – something that should never be assumed amid the sophisticated communications and propaganda battle waging as part of the Russia-Ukraine war – the new drone video offers a surreal, even piteous reminder of the brutal effects Moscow’s increasingly faltering invasion is inflicting on Ukraine’s people, and its own soldiers as well.
For now, it’s impossible to determine if the video is genuine or staged. Text burned into the top of the frame at one point indicates it comes from Reuters, and was shot by Ukraine Armed Forces. A scan of several Twitter accounts containing news from the conflict, including Armed Forces of Ukraine Military Army News, did not appear to have the video.