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Rare Ukraine drone video captures FPV strikes on Russian forces

Video footage taken during the last seconds of what were reportedly drone attacks by Ukraine special forces against Russian positions and vehicles have surfaced on social media, including an astonishing shot of a UAV flying directly into the open back doors of a Russian armored vehicle as it tries to escape.

A compilation of seven attack scenes were uploaded this week on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit on accounts of both independent security specialists and official sources like Ukraine’s National Guard North command. One describes the footage as coming from strikes staged recently in “Eastern Ukraine, (as) Ukrainian forces from the Omega Special Forces Anti-terrorism Detachment target Russian armored vehicles and positions with explosive-equipped FPV drones.”

An article in the Kyiv Post describes the Omega force as an all-volunteer unit of elite fighters with experience in Ukraine, and in some cases even Soviet commando forces, and which now largely operates behind Russian lines to collect intelligence and stage strikes – often using drones. The report says attacks in the video appear to use a mix of US Switchblade weapons, as well as Ukraine UAVs modified to pack sufficient explosive power to destroy their targets.

ReadUS drone companies offer Ukraine specialized UAVs against Russians; Washington to send Switchblades 

The understandably grainy, often jumpy video purportedly captures what Ukraine pilots saw during the last seconds of the different drone strikes on Russian bunkers, armored vehicles, and personnel carriers. According to the National Guard North, the footage was taken during fighting that raged over the last week in the eastern Avdiivka sector. 

“The enemy is trying to enter Avdiivka from the flank, but our military, with fantastic efforts, managed to hold this strategic companion on the approaches to Donetsk,” it said, adding “the enemy is advancing with mechanized units, sometimes in multiple directions, delivering massive artillery fire.”

But not only advancing, it would appear.

ReadUkraine forces strike Russian target with FPV kamikaze drone 

In one of the most dramatic sequences in the video, footage apparently taken by an FPV drone shows the craft quickly catching up to a fleeing Russian BMP infantry fighting vehicle, swooping low as it nears. Two soldiers on the roof then spot the UAV and manage to get off a couple rounds in an unsuccessful attempt to stop it. 

The last scene before the video goes black is that of the Russians rolling backwards defensively as the drone zooms right up to the space left by the BMP’s open back doors, its intended escape from Ukraine forces presumably ending there and then.

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Avatar for Bruce Crumley Bruce Crumley

Bruce Crumley is journalist and writer who has worked for Fortune, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, The Guardian, AFP, and was Paris correspondent and bureau chief for Time magazine specializing in political and terrorism reporting. He splits his time between Paris and Biarritz, and is the author of novel Maika‘i Stink Eye.