Facing an endless barrage, Ukraine’s air defenses are withering

Facing an endless barrage, Ukraine’s air defenses are withering

The New York Times reports:

This is what a year of Russian missile strikes on Ukraine looks like. Ukrainian air defenses used to intercept most missiles, but in recent months, more and more have made it through.

The data, from a New York Times analysis of daily Ukrainian military reports, shows a major shift: Ukraine is increasingly failing to stop Russian missiles, crippling its ability to protect major infrastructure and plunging cities into darkness.
Russian air assaults have struck critical Ukrainian weapons factories and railways used to supply the front. They have also targeted Ukrainian troops on the front line.

Ukraine has been making desperate pleas for more air defenses from its Western allies, saying it is running out of critical supplies. But that is only part of the problem. Russia has also changed its tactics, firing larger barrages that overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses and faster missiles that are harder to shoot down.

Some attacks appear intended to make life difficult for civilians by striking urban centers, or damagng power plants and cutting off electricity to tens of thousands of residents, as was the case last week.

New Western aid will help. After prolonged political wrangling, the United States last month approved a $60 billion aid package, and more air-defense missiles have already been sent as part of the package.

But it could be months before enough weapons arrive to significantly bolster Ukrainian air defenses. And some problems, like Russia’s use of more advanced missiles, are likely to remain even after the aid is delivered.

The Times analyzed hundreds of statements released by the Ukrainian Air Force over the past year that detailed the number and types of missiles fired by Russia and intercepted by Ukraine over that period. While the data cannot be independently verified, experts who study the war say it is broadly reliable. [Continue reading…]

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