Air defense systems near Kiev allegedly detected and shot down as many as six air balloons believed to have been used by Russia, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military claimed during a televised appearance on Wednesday.
According to Yuri Ignat, the balloons, which were detected flying above the Ukrainian capital, may have been equipped with reconnaissance equipment meant to identify and exhaust Kiev’s air defense systems.
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Kiev city officials also announced on their Telegram channel that the balloons, which appear to have been propelled by the wind, may have been carrying corner reflectors and other intelligence equipment. They noted that a final determination of the intended use of these devices would be made after a study of the remains of the downed objects.
While Moscow has yet to comment on the incident, Ignat told a Ukrainian TV channel that the balloons may be a new tactic deployed by Russia to preserve its stocks of reconnaissance drones.
“Reconnaissance drones like the Orlan-10 are now being used more sparingly, and so they thought ‘Why don’t we use these balloons?’ So now they are using them,” the official said.
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Earlier on Wednesday, air raid sirens were triggered throughout the Kiev region after unidentified flying objects were detected above the city. Shortly after the alert, explosions could be heard across the capital. City officials later stated that air defense systems detected several targets in the air and shot them down.