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3 More Accidental Suicide Bombings in Russia Will Bring the Total to 103 This Year

Introduction

Russia has recently witnessed a troubling increase in accidental self-bombings by its own military forces. These incidents have become alarmingly frequent, raising questions about the competence and safety protocols within the Russian military. The latest three accidental bombings bring the total to 103 for this year, reflecting a disturbing pattern that has both domestic and international implications.

The Belgorod Incident

One of the most notable incidents occurred in Belgorod, a city near the Ukrainian border. On April 20, 2023, a Russian Su-34 fighter jet inadvertently dropped a bomb in the city center. The explosion created a massive crater, damaged residential buildings, and injured several civilians. The Russian Ministry of Defense attributed the incident to an “abnormal descent of aviation ammunition,” a euphemism for a significant error in handling and deploying military ordnance​ (POLITICO)​​ (Kyiv Post)​.

GLONASS Guidance Errors

The Belgorod incident is part of a broader series of mistakes involving Russian military aircraft. Many of these incidents have been linked to guidance system errors, particularly involving the GLONASS satellite navigation system. For instance, in another case, an Su-34 fighter jet dropped glide bombs on an apartment complex due to a GLONASS error, which the Russian Ministry of Defense initially blamed on a Ukrainian Tochka-U missile​ (Global Defense Corp)​. These technical failures highlight potential vulnerabilities in Russia’s military technology and operational protocols.

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The Impact on Local Populations

The repeated self-bombings have had a severe impact on local populations in affected areas. In Belgorod, the April 20 explosion injured two women and caused extensive property damage, including to residential buildings and infrastructure. The local governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported that the blast sent a shockwave through the city, damaging multiple apartments and cars and downing power lines​ (Kyiv Post)​. Residents of the damaged buildings had to be temporarily relocated to hotels, reflecting the disruption and fear these incidents cause among civilians.

The Broader Pattern of Self-Bombings

The Belgorod incident is not an isolated case. There have been numerous other instances of Russian forces accidentally bombing their own territory or occupied regions in Ukraine. In March and April alone, at least 21 bombs were mistakenly dropped by Russian planes on Russian or occupied Ukrainian territories​ (POLITICO)​. These incidents underscore a broader pattern of operational mishaps within the Russian military.

Reasons Behind the Accidental Bombings

There are several speculated reasons for these frequent accidents. One major factor is the intense and chaotic nature of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Russian forces often operate under high pressure and in complex environments, increasing the likelihood of mistakes. Additionally, there may be systemic issues within the Russian military, such as inadequate training, poor maintenance of equipment, and flawed communication and command structures​ (POLITICO)​​ (Kyiv Post)​.

Response from the Russian Government

The Russian government’s response to these incidents has been varied. Official statements often downplay the severity of the mistakes, using vague terminology like “abnormal descent of aviation ammunition” to describe what are essentially catastrophic errors​ (Kyiv Post)​. However, these incidents have not gone unnoticed by the public and independent media, which have been vocal in criticizing the military’s operational competence.

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International Reactions

Internationally, these incidents have further tarnished the reputation of the Russian military. While Ukraine has not officially commented on every incident, the recurring nature of these mistakes has been noted by military analysts and observers. Some have suggested that these self-inflicted wounds reflect deeper issues within the Russian military apparatus, which could have broader implications for the ongoing conflict and regional stability​ (Kyiv Post)​​ (Global Defense Corp)​.

Conclusion

The accidental self-bombings by Russian military forces are a disturbing trend that highlights significant issues within Russia’s military operations and technology. With 103 such incidents reported this year, the pattern of mistakes not only endangers Russian civilians and soldiers but also undermines the credibility and effectiveness of Russia’s military efforts in Ukraine. Addressing these issues will require substantial reforms and improvements in training, equipment maintenance, and operational protocols within the Russian military.

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