No matter what, armed TB2s conducting strikes, a capability that Ukraine has now demonstrated, still presents an additional hurdle to separatists and their Russian partners. If Ukrainian forces now feel able to conduct these kinds of strikes more regularly, it would also raise questions about the potential for escalation in kind on the part of Russian-support forces.
The operational capability the TB2s offer could be a point of leverage for officials in Kyiv in any future negotiations with the Kremlin about a potential resolution to the conflict, as well. The drones are indicative of steps the Ukrainian government has taken in recent years to try to bolster its ability to challenge future surges in Russian aggression, both militarily and diplomatically. This includes Ukraine securing an agreement with the United States last year that finally gave it the ability to employ its Javelin anti-tank missiles against Russian-backed forces, something that had previously been prohibited under the terms of the sale of those weapons, as well as its continued interest in joining NATO. Turkey and the United States are both NATO members.
“Ukraine…has a right to decide its own future foreign policy, and we expect that they will be able to do that without any outside interference,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said during a visit to Kyiv just last week. “We will continue to do everything we can to support Ukraine’s efforts to develop the capability to defend itself.”
However the conflict in the Donbass region continues to evolve, it will be especially interesting to see what happens immediately now that the Ukrainian military has now shown that is both able and willing to employ its TB2 drones to respond to certain ceasefire violations by Russian-backed forces.
Contact the author: [email protected]