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A Ukrainian captain says his unit shot down every drone it met despite having 'antiquated' guns

Thibault Spirlet   

A Ukrainian captain says his unit shot down every drone it met despite having 'antiquated' guns
  • A Ukrainian platoon has shot down all of the drones it's encountered, its captain told The Guardian.
  • Oleksandr Zhygun said his soldiers are using "antiquated" guns to do it, per the outlet.

A Ukrainian captain operating near Kyiv said his platoon has shot down every Russian drone it has encountered, despite having what he describes as "antiquated" guns.

"We are using antiquated guns because we don't have new ones," Oleksandr Zhygun, a platoon captain in Ukraine's 241st Brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces, told The Guardian.

Zhygun's Kalashnikov assault rifle was made in 1989, he said, the same year the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Yehven Dolin, a soldier in the brigade, uses a World War I-designed M2 Browning machine gun mounted on the back of a pickup truck, per the outlet.

"It might be old, but it works," Dolin said of his gun, adding that it doesn't make sense to deploy a $4 million US-provided Patriot missile to target a $20,000 drone.

Ukrainian troops have resorted to using old weapons, including World War I-era machine guns, antiaircraft guns from the 1940s, and Cold War-era rocket launchers, to try to stop Russian drones and make up for the lack of Western-provided missiles and ammunition.

But in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian troops are struggling against Russia's night-vision drones, a Ukrainian soldier told the Kyiv Post last month.

The task of protecting Kyiv's skies has also become more difficult with Russia painting its drones black, making them harder to detect, Zhygun told The Guardian.

Ukraine is waiting on significant resources from the US after Republicans in Congress agreed to a $61 billion military aid package.

In the meantime, Russia is exploiting Ukraine's weakened air defense systems before supplies make it to the front lines, according to an assessment from The Institute for the Study of War.

The effect has been felt on the battlefield, with Ukrainian soldiers struggling to hold the line and suffering heavy losses on key battlefronts in Ukraine's east, forcing them to pull out of the strategic city of Avdiivka.

Asked whether Ukraine could still win the war, Zhygun told The Guardian it was a "difficult" question and that they needed more air defense systems.

"For now, we have to ration our bullets. A lot depends on our Western partners," he said.

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