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Russians use decoy missiles to deplete Ukrainian air defense

Russians use decoy missiles to deplete Ukrainian air defense Russia conducts aerial reconnaissance and attempts to deplete Ukrainian air defense (photo: Getty Images)

During the morning shelling of Kyiv on December 8, Russia used decoy missiles to confuse and exhaust Ukraine's air defense. However, the aggressor did not achieve the intended goal, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

In a recent report, the Institute notes that a Russian military blogger on December 9 reported the use of Kh-55 cruise missiles by Russian forces, which closely resemble a modernized version of the Kh-101 missile. The purpose of substituting these missiles was to deceive and exhaust the Ukrainian air defense.

"The use of decoy missiles led to the failure of Russian missiles to successfully hit any targets in Kyiv and were intercepted by air defense systems. The blogger complained that it is practically impossible for Russian forces to launch a sufficient number of Kh-55 decoy missiles to overload the Ukrainian air defense due to the limited number of Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers," the report states.

The Institute for the Study of War also reports that Russians have previously used Kh-55 missiles along with other missile variants and drones as decoy targets to overload Ukrainian air defense and provoke a shortage of high-precision missiles.

Russians intensify aerial reconnaissance

Ukrainian military observer Kostiantyn Mashovets reported on December 8 that Russian forces are conducting intensified aerial reconnaissance ahead of large-scale strikes on distant targets in eastern and southern Ukraine.

The expert noted that before the missile strikes on December 8, the Russians conducted seven reconnaissance flights, significantly more than the one or two flights in previous days. According to his assessment, the aggressor's military is likely trying to counter Ukraine's limited air defense system ahead of the anticipated large-scale winter missile campaign.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly emphasized that Ukrainian forces do not have a sufficient number of air defense systems to cover the entire territory of Ukraine as densely as Kyiv is covered.

Rocket shelling of Ukraine on December 8

On the morning of December 8, Russians used strategic bombers Tu-95MS to launch missiles against Ukraine for the first time since September 21.

A total of 19 cruise missiles, including X-101 and X-555 types, were launched from the area near the city of Engels in the Saratov region. Ukrainian air defense forces successfully intercepted and shot down 14 of these missiles.

All missiles targeting Kyiv were intercepted on their approach to the capital. However, in the Pavlograd district of the Dnipropetrovsk region, there is at least one reported fatality and several injuries due to the missile strikes.

In the West, it is speculated that the intensified Russian attacks on December 8 mark the beginning of a winter campaign of strikes by the Russian Federation.