Technology is changing how wars are fought, from drones to satellites, weapons systems to artificial intelligence.
Do you know that The Ukrainian conflict began in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine? Since then, fighting between Ukraine and Russia has killed thousands of civilians and displaced nearly two million people.
There are several ways that technology is being used in the Ukrainian war. In this article, we will explore how Russia and Ukraine are using technology on the battlefield against each other.
How Russia is using technology in the war against Ukraine
Russia is waging a hybrid war against Ukraine, deploying special forces, cyberattacks, propaganda campaigns, and even drones to destabilize the government. But it's also employing cutting-edge technologies like AI and machine learning to help achieve those goals. Here are some examples:
The Kremlin has been flying surveillance drones over Ukrainian territory since 2014. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), known as Zoopteriks, are used to gather intelligence about targets and relay information to ground commanders. They can fly up to 30 hours per charge and carry cameras and sensors.
Cyber-attacks launched by Russia have increased dramatically in recent months. According to data collected by cybersecurity firm Group-IB, in October 2018 alone, there were 2,500 incidents targeting Ukraine. Most of the attacks originated in Russia, though some came from China and Iran.
Russian state media outlets RT, Pravda and Sputnik News have become increasingly popular among Ukrainians and others looking for news outside of traditional sources. Both sites push pro-Kremlin narratives and often report stories without verification.
A recent report from the New York Times claims that Russia is using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to spread propaganda about the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
The paper says that Russia is trying to influence public opinion in Western countries by spreading fake news and false information. They are doing it by creating accounts on popular social networks and posting pro-Russian messages.
In recent months, Russia has used social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to spread pro-Russian messages and disinformation about Ukraine. And according to reports, Russia is now turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help automate the process.
The BBC recently reported that Russia uses AI to target Ukrainian soldiers with fake news. In one example, the BBC found that bots had posted hundreds of times over three days, claiming that Ukrainian forces had shot down a civilian airliner.
This automated activity could make it difficult for human moderators to spot and block suspicious posts. So far, there are no viable signs that Russia has developed AI capable of writing original content itself. Instead, it seems to be relying on third parties to do the work.
How Ukraine is using technology in the war against Russia
In recent months, Ukraine has used drones, robots, and even artificial intelligence to help win battles; it has even gotten tremendous support from the US in technology and funds. Here are some examples of how technology is being used in conflict.
The Ukrainian army uses drones to gather information about the enemy. They use thermal imaging cameras to detect heat signatures, and infrared cameras to see movement. These images are sent to soldiers on the ground via radio link.
Recently, there have been series of attacks on a Russian military base near Saky, on an airbase near Sevastopol, and Russian ships of the Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol harbor.
According to a military expert, there is a likelihood that Ukraine used kamikaze drones sometime in august this year, in the recent attacks on Russia's bases near Crimea. Although Thousands of drones are being used in the conflict by both Russia and Ukraine to bomb their targets or to directly fire onto them.
Some of the drones being used by both sides are purpose-built military drones. However, Ukraine recently seems to be turning more towards using small, off-the-shelf (commercial) drones. Ukraine's primary military drone is the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2. The Bayraktar TB2 is about the size of a small plane, has cameras on board, and can be armed with laser-guided bombs.
Ukraine has enjoyed foreign support, such as The US supplying Ukraine with over 700 Switchblade "kamikaze" military drones. While Elon Musk's SpaceX provides internet connectivity through its Starlink satellite system to Kyiv. This creates a very secure link between commercial drones and operators.
Ukraine is using a robot called "Zapad" developed since 2017 to carry out tasks such as clearing mines, detecting explosives and destroying bunkers. Apart from Zapad Ukraine uses unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) called GNOM, which are remotely operated by radio control, but some use a fiber optic connection instead of radio waves. Eduard Trotskon, co-founder and CEO of Temerland, the Ukraine company which makes this robot says that the UGV rigid, resistant fiber-optic cables provide a broadband link that is impervious to radio countermeasures.
Tactical robots have long become touted to reduce casualties and keep troops out of harm's reach, while allowing them to maintain contact with the enemy. GNOM may help Ukraine avoid risking its own lives by giving it a closer look at Russia's military positions without putting their own men in danger.
Artificial Intelligence is being used to identify targets for artillery strikes. A "Ternopil " system uses neural networks to analyse satellite imagery and produce maps showing where there are likely to be people.
Another example of artificial intelligence (AI) is when companies use AI tools for speech recognition, transcription, and translation services. These tools could help analyse intercepted Russian communications.
Unsurprisingly, some people are concerned about using artificial-intelligent software for surveillance purposes. But when Reuters reported that the facial recognition company Clearview AI had supplied its technology to Ukrainian authorities, critics of the company were quick to point out that oppressive regimes could use it to target political opponents.
Nowadays, facial recognition technology is widely used not just for security purposes but also for commercial ones. It's the first time we're witnessing its use in a major conventional war.
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict is one of the first wars where more advanced technology is playing an important role. It’s sad for technology to be used for warfare, but hopefully it will help to protect civilians.