SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Russian spy balloons shot down over Kyiv, says Ukraine

Ever since a Chinese spy balloon was spotted over the US a few days back, and spy balloons have been in the headlines. The matter escalated with both US and China accusing each other of flying spy balloons over each other’s territories. While China denied that the balloon the US shot down over the Carolinas was a spy balloon, it was angry at the action. Beijing said the balloon was an unmanned weather airship and had accidentally blown off course. Now China has accused US of flying a spy balloon over the Xinjiang and Tibet regions.

Spy balloons seem to have entered the Russia-Ukraine invasion as well, with Ukraine saying that it had shot down Russian “spy balloons” over Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said that six balloons, which might have been carrying reconnaissance equipment, were spotted over the capital, and most of them were shot down. No information was shared about when were the spy balloons seen.
Air raid sirens were sounded in Kyiv today and Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat confirmed that the sirens went off in the capital due to balloons flying overhead. “According to information that is now being clarified, these were balloons that move in the air under the propulsion of wind,” the military administration wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

“The purpose of launching the balloons was possibly to detect and exhaust our air defences.”

Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said Russia might be using balloons to preserve its stocks of reconnaissance drones. “Reconnaissance drones like the Orlan-10 are now being used more sparingly (by Russia), and they thought ‘Why don’t we use these balloons?’ So they are using them,” Ihnat told Ukrainian television.

Russia launches new missile attack

Meanwhile, Russia, that is reportedly preparing for a major offensive as the anniversary of the Ukraine invasion approaches, launched fresh missiles strikes on Ukraine on Thursday. Officials in Ukraine said air defences in the south downed eight Kalibr missiles fired from a ship in the Black Sea. A total of 32 missiles were fired, the Ukrainian Air Force said in a post on Telegram. Of these, at least 16 missiles were destroyed. Some of the Kh-22 cruise missiles were able to reach their targets, “hitting critical infrastructure”, the post said.

Ukraine believes that the much-expected offensive has already started in the east. On Wednesday, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that Russian forces had fired on more than 15 towns and villages near Bakhmut and in the city. Donetsk regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko posted pictures and video of an apartment building showing rubble in the city of Pokrovsk, southwest of Bakhmut. The attack reportedly killed three people. On Monday, the Ukrainian presidential office said that the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is witnessing fierce battle.

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