The Russian military flew balloons over Ukraine in an apparent attempt to distract Ukrainian missile systems, according to the BBC.
A few of the balloons, which utilized wind power, were shot down as they flew over Kyiv, the BBC reported. The balloons triggered air raid sirens in Kyiv on Wednesday, according to ABC News Australia, and preceded a Russian missile attack Thursday.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat claimed the purpose of the balloons was “to detect and exhaust our air defense forces,” according to the BBC. The balloons, allegedly designed to be detected by radar systems, could potentially confuse the Ukrainian military into firing costly surface-to-air (SAM) missiles in order to take them down, the outlet reported.
Ihnat said the Ukrainian military identified the balloons and utilized bullets instead of missiles to take down at least two, the BBC reported.
Balloon with reflectors downed today around Kyiv. Six of them were detected earlier. pic.twitter.com/V8qyeQObGS
— Maria Avdeeva (@maria_avdv) February 15, 2023
The Russian balloons utilized reflectors to attract air defense systems, the Ukrainian military told the BBC. Wasted Ukrainian missiles could largely clear the way for later airstrikes by Russian aircraft, cruise missiles and drones, according to the outlet.
Russia may have made use of the balloons as a means of preserving its drone supply, ABC News Australia reported, citing Ihnat. (RELATED: Russian Journalist Sentenced To Six Years After Social Media Post On Ukraine Theater Attack)
The U.S. military has shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon and the three unidentified flying objects throughout February. The Chinese balloon passed over Montana, a state where intercontinental ballistic missiles are kept, and caused United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a planned trip to China.