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Illia Ponomarenko

Former Defense reporter

Illia Ponomarenko was a defense and security reporter at the Kyiv Independent in 2021-2023. He has reported about the war in eastern Ukraine since the conflict’s earliest days. He covers national security issues, as well as military technologies, production, and defense reforms in Ukraine. Besides, he gets deployed to the war zone of Donbas with Ukrainian combat formations. He has also had deployments to Palestine and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an embedded reporter with UN peacekeeping forces. Illia won the Alfred Friendly Press Partners fellowship and was selected to work as USA Today's guest reporter at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Articles

How Russia's humiliating defeat in Kherson came to be

How Russia's humiliating defeat in Kherson came to be

by Illia Ponomarenko

The Russian defeat in Kherson Oblast was almost inevitable — but it happened sooner than many expected. The Nov. 9 announcement on Russia’s “uneasy decision” to leave Kherson, voiced by General Sergei Surovikin, has drawn the line under a months-long Ukrainian effort to undermine the Russian presence on Dnipro’s

Amid Russian missile terror, NATO pledges more Ukraine aid

Amid Russian missile terror, NATO pledges more Ukraine aid

by Illia Ponomarenko

BRUSSELS — As Russia unfolds a massive bombing campaign against Ukraine’s vital public infrastructure, Kyiv’s international backers say they work to accelerate defense assistance — and provide Kyiv with air defense. Following a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said members of the

How likely is Putin to nuke Ukraine?

How likely is Putin to nuke Ukraine?

by Illia Ponomarenko

When Russia’s Vladimir Putin is in trouble, he threatens to start a global nuclear holocaust. The Russian president has a long history of nuclear brinksmanship, always implicit in his rhetoric yet never manifesting in reality. And now, as his war of conquest in Ukraine is failing, Putin is again

How many tanks does Russia really have?

How many tanks does Russia really have?

by Illia Ponomarenko

Join our community Support Ukraine's independent journalism in its darkest hour Support us Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is already going down in history as the biggest tank slaughter Europe has seen since World War II. The Kremlin’s reckless and unsuccessful blitzkrieg on Kyiv resulted in the loss

6 months of war: How Russia got derailed in Ukraine

6 months of war: How Russia got derailed in Ukraine

by Illia Ponomarenko

Shock and awe roared over Kyiv Oblast in the early hours of Feb. 24, 2022. Dozens of Russian Ka-52 and Mi-8 helicopters rushed south at low altitude over the Dnipro River, carrying 200-300 elite stormtroopers with the 11th Guards Air Assault Brigade. Some of the helicopters were downed and fell

Why Ukraine struggles to combat Russia’s artillery superiority

Why Ukraine struggles to combat Russia’s artillery superiority

by Illia Ponomarenko

Russian heavy artillery — the Kremlin’s deadliest weapon against Ukraine — is still a superior force that has no mercy. Almost six months into the full-scale invasion, Russian advances remain generally stalled. But despite much effort with Western-provided advanced weaponry, Russia's artillery force is still inflicting heavy losses on Ukraine and

Why is Russia so vulnerable to HIMARS in Ukraine?

Why is Russia so vulnerable to HIMARS in Ukraine?

by Illia Ponomarenko

It’s been nearly a month since U.S.-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, had their long-awaited debut in Ukraine, but their combat record is already extensive. Using all the heavy and long-range weaponry available to it, including HIMARS, Ukraine began a campaign that has destroyed dozens

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