News | International
20 Jun 2024 18:18
NZCity News
NZCity CalculatorReturn to NZCity

  • Start Page
  • Personalise
  • Sport
  • Weather
  • Finance
  • Shopping
  • Jobs
  • Horoscopes
  • Lotto Results
  • Photo Gallery
  • Site Gallery
  • TVNow
  • Dating
  • SearchNZ
  • NZSearch
  • Crime.co.nz
  • RugbyLeague
  • Make Home
  • About NZCity
  • Contact NZCity
  • Your Privacy
  • Advertising
  • Login
  • Join for Free

  •   Home > News > International

    Russia is gaining ground in Kharkiv with daily 'glide bomb' attacks and there's not much Ukraine can do about it

    Russia's big, cheap, retrofitted Soviet-era bombs have become one of its most effective weapons in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Locals who have seen their devastating effects view them as a "super weapon".


    Launched from the sanctuary of its own airspace, Russia has been using 1.5-tonne "glide bombs" to help gain ground and wreak havoc on Ukraine's second-largest city.

    And there's little Ukraine can do right now to stop them.

    Russia's big, cheap, retrofitted Soviet-era bombs have become one of its most effective weapons in the full-scale invasion.

    They contributed to the fall of the strategic city of Avdiivka in February, and are now being used daily in devastating assaults in Kharkiv.

    Local police in the region have referred to them as a "super weapon", saying they've wiped out entire streets in one fell swoop.

    Two were used in an attack on a crowded DIY hardware store in Kharkiv City over the weekend, which killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens more, according to Ukrainian authorities.

    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says they are now the main tool of Russian warfare.

    Moscow's renewed attacks in Ukraine's north-east come as Kyiv still reels from stalled Western aid.

    And Mr Zelenskyy has warned the situation is about to get worse.

    On Sunday he said Moscow's forces were massing for a new ground offensive in the region, urging the West to speed up support.

    But even with the right weapons, Ukraine faces US restrictions to defend against the cross-border attacks.

    Analysts say the war has reached an inflection point, and whether Ukraine wins or loses could be decided in the next few months.

    What are glide bombs?

    Glide bombs generally start out as old-fashioned "dumb bombs", which are fitted with wing kits and satellite navigation guidance systems to give them "smart" precision.

    Russia has been digging into its old Soviet stockpiles to give its heavy, iron FAB-500 and FAB-1500 bombs a new life.

    Rather than being dropped from overhead, their pop-out wings allow them to glide 50 to 70 kilometres through the air at high speeds to reach a target.

    And they come with explosives of up to 500 kilograms, which leave craters about 20m wide and 6m deep.

    Malcolm Davis, a senior defence analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says Russia is using these weapons for two main purposes.

    "To terrorise the civilian population by hitting civilian targets — hospitals, schools, that sort of thing," he told the ABC.

    "And secondly, they're using these to support manoeuvres by ground forces."

    While their range is nothing compared to cruise missiles, glide bombs are significantly cheaper.

    They can reportedly be fitted out for as little as $US20,000 ($30,000).

    Mr Zelenskyy said more than 3,200 guided bombs were used against Ukrainian targets in April alone, calling them Russia's "main instrument" in its attacks.

    Authorities in Kharkiv told Al Jazeera over the weekend that the bombs were being flown towards the city every 10 to 20 minutes.

    Why can't Ukraine stop them?

    Glide bombs aren't particularly sophisticated, nor are they new.

    Marcus Hellyer from Strategic Analysis Australia says they are a standard weapon that even Australia has in its supplies.

    Ukraine has more accurate versions from its Western allies, including the US Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and new long-range GLSDB bombs.

    But the ground-launched GLSDB glide bombs are reportedly being taken out by Russian electronic jamming.

    What has been making Russia's glide bombs particularly effective are positioning and policy.

    The city of Kharkiv lies 40km from the border, so glide bombs can be used without Russian aircraft leaving their airspace.

    "The Russians have lots of planes so they can sit outside the Ukrainian air defence network and simply glide bombs in," Dr Hellyer said.

    Not only are they being launched outside the range of most Ukrainian air defence systems, there's another major problem: The US has imposed constraints on Ukraine using its weapons inside Russia.

    "Ukraine is sort of fighting with one hand tied behind their back," Dr Hellyer said.

    [map]

    The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) warned that the US policy restricting weapons use in Russia was "severely compromising Ukraine's ability to defend itself".

    Since May 10, Russian forces have captured several villages near the border and entered the town of Vovchansk.

    And Moscow continues to intensify strikes across the region, including on Kharkiv City, which is home to about 1.4 million people.

    "It is not possible to defend Ukrainian territory without defeating the glide bomb threat," George Barros, the ISW's Russia and Ukraine portfolio lead, reported last week.

    "Russian aircraft can strike Kharkiv City indefinitely without ever leaving the sanctuary of Russian airspace."

    Is Ukraine losing?

    When US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Ukraine earlier this month, he admitted the country was facing a particularly "challenging time".

    Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at University College Dublin's Clinton Institute, said: "It's the most serious position Ukraine has faced since the early months of the Russian invasion in 2022."

    "But I think it needs to be put into perspective," he told ABC's The World.

    Russia has been attacking the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, after taking the city of Avdiivka earlier in the year.

    And it has taken about 1,000 square kilometres of territory in Kharkiv over the past two weeks, Professor Lucas said.

    But he added it was not a "huge amount".

    "This is a far more limited Russian advance than we saw in that opening phase of the invasion and it could change very, very soon," he said.

    Pivotal months ahead

    Dr Hellyer says it's hard to imagine a positive outcome for Ukraine unless things fundamentally change.

    "At the moment, the Ukrainians are not winning on the battlefield," he said.

    "They are sort of holding their ground on the battlefield with Western support."

    Major shifts in Ukraine's favour rely on whether the US lifts weapons constraints and how soon new aid will arrive.

    The Biden administration's $US61 billion military aid package finally passed in April after several months of delays.

    And an additional $US275 million package was announced by the US Department of Defense on Friday.

    But it did not include more air defence systems, which Mr Zelenskyy was pleading for.

    Dr Davis says although these packages are helpful, the flow of support to the battlefield remains slow.

    And they aren't expected to have a real impact until next year.

    He says it's crucial to get the promised US F-16 fighter jets in the air as soon as possible and to start hitting inside Russia.

    "In the meantime, the Russians are doing everything they can to make hay while the sun shines and make progress on the ground," he said.

    "If Ukraine wins or loses really is going to be decided [in the] next few months."

    © 2024 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

     Other International News
     20 Jun: Australia to provide $2 million in extra funding to assist with PNG's landslide recovery
     20 Jun: China removing religious and cultural references from Xinjiang place names, rights groups say
     20 Jun: Optus cyber attack could have been prevented four years prior, says telecoms watchdog
     20 Jun: Kyle Chalmers to face stiff competition at Paris Olympics as David Popovici comes close to breaking world record
     20 Jun: The West watches anxiously as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un sign new defence pact
     20 Jun: How to use menstrual cups, and the benefits of making the switch
     20 Jun: About to renew your car insurance? These tips can help you compare insurers and save
     Top Stories

    RUGBY RUGBY
    Jonny Brownlee has been left out of Great Britain's triathlon team for the Paris Olympics, marking the end of an era More...


    BUSINESS BUSINESS
    A need to start thinking ahead now New Zealand's out of a technical recession More...



     Today's News

    Politics:
    Australia to provide $2 million in extra funding to assist with PNG's landslide recovery 18:17

    International:
    China removing religious and cultural references from Xinjiang place names, rights groups say 18:17

    Entertainment:
    Halle Berry will reportedly carry the Olympic flame in France 18:16

    Cricket:
    A single-over onslaught from Phil Salt has powered England to a comfortable eight-wicket win over the West Indies to start the Super Eight stage at cricket's T20 World Cup 18:07

    Entertainment:
    Sharon Stone is looking out for Austin Butler after relating to his "journey and destiny" 17:46

    Law and Order:
    The reward for information on the missing Tom Phillips and his three children expires in five days 17:27

    Entertainment:
    Kevin Costner has not "shoved" his children into the entertainment business 17:16

    Law and Order:
    The sudden death of a West Auckland baby on Tuesday has been called a tragedy 16:57

    Entertainment:
    Chris Hemsworth thinks his career could be "killing" him after getting into acting to help his parents 16:46

    Technology:
    Optus cyber attack could have been prevented four years prior, says telecoms watchdog 16:27


     News Search






    Power Search


    © 2024 New Zealand City Ltd