The Czech Republic's upgraded Soviet 2K12M2 Kub-M2 air defence vehicles - nicknamed the "Three Fingers of Death" - are now active on the ground in Ukraine, complementing a small number of Ukrainian Kubs already in service.
Czech President Petr Pavel had stated in the recent past that he would transfer two Kub-M2 batteries to Ukraine, implying a total of six to eight launcher vehicles and two SURN 1S91 radar vehicles, as well as a "relatively large number" of 3M9 ramjet anti-aircraft missiles. It is now clear that at least some of these systems have arrived.
After 18 months of merciless warfare, Ukraine needs more air defense missiles in general, as it depletes its stockpile of old Soviet-era missiles, fending off the Russian offensive on both fronts: constant attacks by cruise missiles and Iranian-origin kamikaze drones striking civilians in Ukrainian cities, while attack helicopters and fighter-bombers flying low carry out surging attacks on Ukrainian troops on the front line.
In service since 1967, the Kub (codenamed SA-6 Gainful by NATO) is undeniably dated, with each battery able to engage only one target at a time. But it is mobile - capable of tracking behind front-line troops and deploying in five minutes - and could help Ukraine fill a short- to medium-range air defence gap, dealing with low-flying drones, cruise missiles, helicopters and fighter-bombers.
In addition, the donated Kubs-M2s are a unique Czech modernization in the mid-2000s, including an updated body/frame, followed by installation of modern wiring, power supply, and interoperable NATO communications systems.
The SURN vehicle's vacuum tube-era radar and control systems were digitized, improving engagement resistance and identification of friend or foe (IFF) through signal processing, while new displays and more heavily automated control systems allow for a smaller crew with reduced workload.
The upgrade also extended vehicle and missile life, improved reliability and reduced maintenance costs through the use of digital self-diagnostic tools.
Despite Kub's theoretical mobile front-line capabilities, many observers assume that the dated weapons are primarily attractive for providing additional shots to defend against low-flying Shahed aircraft and Kalibr and Kh-101 subsonic cruise missiles.
However, the donation of Kubs from the Czech Republic highlights the interestingly curious possibility of upgrading Ukraine's Kubs to launch Western missiles.
This is because in 2011, the Czech company Retia presented a prototype "Kub-CZ" with an upgraded radar capable of launching Italian-made ASPIDE radar-guided missiles.
How easy such a modification would be is not clear, but Ukraine has already found the means to mount RIM-7 missiles on its Buk medium-range systems.
Time will tell whether the Ukrainian military will find it worthwhile to devote resources to upgrading its modest but growing Kub arsenal to launch Western missiles just as it is preparing its newer Buk launchers to do so.
With the motto "we work quietly, we are invisible," Ukrainian snipers are focused on taking out high Russian targets and frustrating troops.
While Ukrainian troops struggle to advance through Russia's minefields , an elite group of snipers is focused on taking out strategic high-profile Russian military targets.
The sniper team calls itself "Devils and Angels", according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.A critical part of their role is to remove high-level Russian commanders and other high-profile targets, with the ultimate goal of sowing shock, chaos and disorganization in the enemy ranks.
Ukraine's snipers typically don't use ghillie overalls for camouflage, which Western snipers often use to help them blend into the environment, because they are too heavy to walk on battlefields, says one of them, Ryan Pickrell . "Snipers, however, prefer Western rifles," he says.
Night vision technology also helps Ukrainian snipers identify and hit their targets, and an unverified video from June appears to show them holding off a Russian attack by aiming at thermal images of moving targets.
Also in June, a Ukrainian sniper killed Vladimir Antonov , a member of the "Wagner Group" and one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most notorious mercenary fighters.