Even before the Russian invasion in 2022, the Ukrainian military encouraged innovation and improvisation by manufacturers as well as the troops themselves. This has long been a Ukrainian custom and, in the war against the Russian invaders, these improvisations were often decisive in halting or slowing down Russian operations. All this innovation was seen in use from the very beginning of the Russian invasion. The Russians encountered novel and unexpected anti-tank weapons and tactics that halted the initial advance to take the capital Kyiv.
The Russians lost most of their most modern tanks using that initial attack and have yet to recover because it took Russia over a decade to build those tanks. Economic sanctions imposed on Russia because of their attack on Ukraine mean Russia cannot build new tanks as quickly they could before the war, and those they can build are much more expensive and less effective. That means they cannot replace current losses (which are lesser than the tank massacre they suffered in the war’s first year) and have had to pull 1960s T-62s out of storage, refurbish them and send them to war. This was more desperation than innovation.
Many Ukrainian innovations involve the use of locally developed and built UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). Before the war there was a “UAV tinkering and development” movement that became a military asset once Russia invaded. What made Ukrainian UAVs particularly effective is that there was no standardization as was the case in Russia and many other nations that are major military powers. This meant Russia had a difficult time detecting, let alone intercepting, the constantly growing multiple types of increasingly effective Ukrainian UAVs. This continues to be a major problem for the Russians, who regularly suffer surprise attacks by Ukrainian weapons, which are often UVs.
One example of why Ukrainian UAVs are so successful against the is because Ukrainian UAVs come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and electronics. There are no standard radio frequencies used by Ukrainian UAVs, which makes them difficult to jam. That’s why so many Russian electronic jammers are destroyed by Ukrainian UAVs. The multiple design features of Ukrainian UAVs makes it possible for Ukraine to attack targets deep inside Russia, although some of those attacks are carried out by Ukrainian agents inside. There were always a lot of Ukrainians living in Russia and many of them got in touch with the Ukrainian military once the war started and volunteered to help out from inside Russia. There was a similar situation with Russians living in Ukraine. Most of these Russians remained loyal to Ukraine because the Russians were not invading Ukraine in order to improve the lives of people living in Ukraine. As a result of this, there are a growing number of unexpected attacks or acts of sabotage inside Russia. Ukraine makes the most of this capability by sometimes having operatives inside Russia use commercial UAVs to carry out attacks on Russian military or government targets. This is one form of Ukrainian UAV innovation that Russia never expected to suffer from.