Ukraine Still Using Decoys to Make Russia Waste Their Munitions — and it’s still hilarious

Wes O'Donnell
5 min readSep 18

The Russians may have invented “maskirovka,” but the Ukrainians are fast learners.

Vitaly V. Kuzmin CC BY-SA 4.0

In the military, маскировка (something masked) has a broad meaning including strategic, operational, physical, and tactical deception.

In the U.S., we call it CC&D (camouflage, concealment, and deception), or more recently D&D (denial and deception).

It could be as simple as guys in ski masks and uniforms with no insignia, or as complicated as hidden weapons transfers and hiding WMDs from UN weapons inspectors.

Indeed, the simplest form of maskirovka originated in Ukraine: The balaclava, commonly known as the ski mask, was named for a Ukrainian town of that name during a Crimean War battle there in 1854. British troops wore the headgear to keep warm.

Today, the balaclava has spread beyond Eastern Europe to police, SWAT, special forces, and terrorist organizations around the world as a means to conceal one’s identity.

But now, Ukraine is using another inexpensive deception tactic that is forcing Russia to expend its limited supply of precision munitions.

Russia’s supply of precision cruise missiles and drones, like the Lancet kamikaze drone, are dwindling — and with sanctions finally beginning to bite Russia’s ability to manufacture high-tech components, every wasted missile is another step closer to victory for Ukraine.

Inflatech, a Czech company owned by a Russian businessman, produces inflatable decoys for Ukraine at a rate of 35 to 40 per month.

These decoys can resemble anything from a German-donated Iris-T SLM air defense system to an M1A1 Abrams tank.

They even make inflatable jet fighters and decoy versions of the U.S.-made HIMARS rocket system.

In fact, Russia has periodically reported that it has destroyed large numbers of Ukrainian armored vehicles and weapon systems…

Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security Wonk for War is Boring, GEN, OneZero, Soldier of Fortune | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Founder of Warrior Lodge