How a Russian barrage evaded Ukraine’s defenses to wreak deadly chaos

How a Russian barrage evaded Ukraine’s defenses to wreak deadly chaos

The New York Times reports:

For months, Ukraine’s use of powerful Western-supplied air-defense systems to repel Russian missile attacks has provided its citizens with some reassurance that a protective shield was effectively in place over big cities such as the capital, Kyiv.

On Friday, that shield partly cracked.

In one of the biggest air assaults of the war, Russia launched so many missiles that the Ukrainian defenses seem to have been overloaded. Faced with a complex barrage of different airborne weapons, the Ukrainian Air Force said it had shot down only 87 of the 122 missiles fired by Moscow, about 70 percent of the total, with all hypersonic missiles and many ballistic missiles evading interception.

Serhii Kuzan, chairman of the research group Ukrainian Center for Security and Cooperation, was blunt. “It overwhelmed Ukrainian air defenses,” he said.

To be sure, air defenses are imperfect and the magnitude of the barrage played an important part in the number of missiles to slip through. But the bombardment also showed how Russia has learned the best ways to evade Ukraine’s air defenses and hit the country hard, military experts and Ukrainian officials said.

For months, Russia had stockpiled vast quantities of high-precision missiles and launched wave after wave of drones, in what appeared to be a campaign to probe Ukrainian defenses.

The attack on Friday “was very cleverly constructed,” Mr. Kuzan said. “Russia attacked with drones and ballistic and hypersonic missiles, combining them in different waves and launching them from different locations.” [Continue reading…]

The Associated Press reports:

Shelling in the center of the Russian border city of Belgorod Saturday killed 21 people, including three children, local officials reported.

A further 110 people were wounded in the strike, said regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, making it one of the deadliest attacks on Russian soil since the start of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine 22 months ago.

Russian authorities accused Kyiv of carrying out the attack, which took place the day after an 18-hour aerial bombardment across Ukraine killed at least 41 civilians.

Images of Belgorod on social media showed burning cars and plumes of black smoke rising among damaged buildings as air raid sirens sounded. One strike hit close to a public ice rink in the very heart of the city, which lies 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of the Ukrainian border and 415 miles (670 kilometers) south of Moscow. While previous attacks have hit the city, they have rarely taken place in daylight and have claimed fewer lives. [Continue reading…]

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