Ukraine builds decoy weapons out of drainpipes to divert Russia attacks

He is also building a fake D-20 howitzer gun, replete with tractor wheels to deal with the boggy front-line terrain. “It looks like a huge wagon on wheels,” he said.

Based on photos and videos of the artillery gun taken on the front lines, Mr Roman’s imitation cost about 20,000 hryvnias and took his team of 20 carpenters, architects and builders two months to complete.

After delivering the first artillery gun to the front lines a couple of weeks ago, he received messages from five other units asking for their own versions. “We are going to try to make it quicker,” he said. “We could do it in a week if needed.”

On top of weapons, Mr Roman has also begun work on a fleet of imitation Starlink satellite terminals, recreating the white dishes that Kyiv relies on for internet connection to wage its drone war against Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

He plans for the decoy terminals to be positioned in the vicinity of a real terminal in order to confuse any surveillance or potential attacks.

Dummy weapons have been deployed in the theatre of war throughout human history, from the Trojan horse to decoy tanks made out of palm-fronds at El Alamein and Churchill’s construction of a fictitious D-Day landing fleet under Operation Fortitude South.

Fake arms race

In the Ukraine war, military deception has reached new heights amid reports of inflatable tanks, wooden Himars and Ukraine draping giant pictures of blown-up hangars on sheets over their airbases to dupe passing Russian pilots into thinking they have already been destroyed.

Mr Roman has been delivering aid to soldiers on Ukraine’s front lines since 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. It was during one of these excursions last year, when he saw front-line soldiers designing their own replica weapons out of scrap material, that he decided to try it out himself.

Over the past year, Mr Roman’s designs have spawned a fake arms race of sorts, in which the better Russian forces become at spotting his replicas, the more advanced his designs have become.

“We are winning this race, he said. Because they have a lot of missiles, and they are using them,” he said. “They do not care about where to shoot them, so we are exhausting the enemy.”

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