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Weakness of Ukrainian air defense system allows Russian army to advance quickly on front

Weakness of Ukrainian air defense system allows Russian army to advance quickly on front Ukraine critically lacks air defense systems on the front line (photo: Getty Images)

Ukrainian air defense in the front-line areas is not strong enough to block the work of Russian aviation. This leads to significant losses among Ukrainian military personnel and allows the aggressor to quickly capture new territories with air support, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The report cites videos from Russian military bloggers demonstrating how Russian Su-25 and Su-34 aircraft strike positions of the Ukrainian defense forces at low altitudes near the town of Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region. According to the bloggers, Russian aviation has allowed the occupiers to advance relatively quickly in this area since the end of March.

ISW experts note that the ability of Russian aircraft to operate more than 100 kilometers deep into Ukrainian airspace near the front line without significant losses indicates that Ukrainian air defense in this area is currently insufficient to restrain or prevent the operation of Russian aircraft.

"The Ukrainian capability to conduct long-range strikes to down Russian strategic aircraft conducting combat operations may temporarily constrain Russian aviation operations as the previous downing of tactical aircraft has achieved. This Ukrainian strike capability, however, is unable to compensate for Ukraine’s critical air defense shortages across the theater," the report says.

ISW points out that Ukrainian forces still have to prioritize and allocate their limited air defense assets to certain areas of the theater of operations over others. This leads to significant costs, allowing Russian aviation to sustain more consistent and rapid successes on the ground, particularly in the area of Chasiv Yar.

Strengthening Ukraine's air defense forces

Over the past few weeks, the Kremlin has significantly intensified its air attacks on cities and critical infrastructure in Ukraine. The aggressor is conducting massive attacks on targets with ballistic missiles, which can only be intercepted by two air defense systems in the world - the American Patriot missile system and the French-Italian SAMP/T system.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that to fully close Ukraine's skies from Russian drones and missiles, 25 Patriot systems are needed.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Ukraine may receive six additional Patriot systems from partners.

The Pentagon is already preparing for military supplies to Ukraine, and new air defense systems, as well as artillery, may be transferred to Kyiv soon.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that it is impossible to build an Israeli-style air defense system in Ukraine.

On Friday, April 19, the Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine shot down a Russian Tu-22M3 bomber-carrier. The operation was prepared for a week, and the aircraft was hit by a modernized Soviet S-200 air defense missile system.