​Kamikaze Drones in Belgorod and Tuapse: Analyzing Ukraine's Capabilities for Long Range Strikes and Attack Routes

Collage by Defense Express with the use of photos from open sources
Collage by Defense Express with the use of photos from open sources

Explosion in Tuapse is especially worth of attention, as there are indications of the flight route going through Adygea in the North Caucasus

Overnight February 28, two events at once took place in the russian federation, which may well be indicators of Ukrainian Armed Forces acquiring new capabilities for long-range strikes.

Three "kamikaze drones" were spotted in Belgorod, russian city roughly 30 km north east from Ukraine, and an explosion took place in Tuapse, located 430 km to south-east from the closest Ukraine-controlled territory.

Read more: ​"Drone-phobia" in russia: Fighters Chasing a Phantom UAV Over St. Petersburg While Putin's Board Going in Circles Near Moscow

Speaking of the aerial attack on Belgorod, the drones were unable to reach their target. There are no details how the drones were taken down or which type it was. Despite that, from Ukraine's perspective, the attack was still a success, since the media resonance caused by photos and video of the drone mid-flight was actively shared in the russian media. Which aligns with the views of the Ukrainian top general on how to break the strategically important principle of "remote war" that russia is waging on Ukraine.

The drones in Belgorod are easier to comprehend because the distance of 40 km from Ukraine's border is not something technically impossible for the Armed Forces of Ukraine to deal with, considering the tools available at hand. The UAVs in this case have been already seen in previous photos, and most likely they are reconnaissance drones remade to carry explosive payload.

Judging by the photos from Belgorod, the warhead consists of PE8 L23A1 plastic explosive of the UK manufacture, and the fragmentation effect is reinforced with self-made elements with bearing balls.

As for the explosion in Tuapse, the situation is more complicated and thus interesting. The explosion occurred at a big fuel depot situated close to an oil refinery. Local media said the cause was an attack of Ukrainian UAVs, while big state media only mentioned some "bangs" and a fire in some warehouse, reassuring that the "situation is under control".

If we consider the option with the drone strike, it would mean such a drone would have to cross a distance of almost 450 km in a straight line. But that would also take the vehicle to break through frontline air defenses, cross the occupied territories of Ukraine, fly near three active airbases in Yeysk, Primorsko-Akhtarsk and Krasnodar, and overcome the peaks of Caucasus Mountains.

Distance from Ukrainian positions to Tuapse
Distance from Ukrainian positions to Tuapse / Map credit: DeepStateUA

Based on the fact the city of destination is located at the Black Sea shore, we can suppose that the actual route was much longer and stretched from, let's say, somewhere near Odesa, and bypassed the Crimean Peninsula. However, then the overall flying distance would be over 800 km.

Although this assumption does not align with the fact that an unidentified flying object fell near Novyi village in Adygea.

The video above captures quite a big aerial vehicle which hints about the archaic Tu-141 "Strizh" remade into a peudo-cruise missile.

Tu-141 "Strizh" and the wreckage found at the crash site

Of course, we should not rule out that this vehicle was apart from the one or more kamikaze drones that struck the fuel depot in Tuapse. Because in that case the approximate flight route would look like this:

A possible route to Tuapse via Novyi village
A possible route to Tuapse via Novyi village / Map credit: DeepStateUA

There is also possibility that this drone was directed toward another target, but anyway, such long-range strikes using unpredictable routes have become a solid demonstration of Ukraine's growing capabilities to strike back in the "remote war".

Read more: Confirmed: Ukraine Remodelled Archaic Tu-141 "Strizh" Into Weapon to Launch Deep Rear Strikes Near Moscow