Officials say intensified Russian airstrikes are straining Ukraine’s air defense resources


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian Air Force official said Tuesday that a recent increase in missile and drone attacks from Russia is depleting Ukraine's air defense resources, leaving the country vulnerable. 22 month war Unless it can ensure further arms supplies.

"Intensive Russian air attacks force us to use air defense means in appropriate quantities," Air Force spokesman Yuri Ihnat told national television. "That's why we need more of them, because Russia is increasing its (air) strike capabilities."

As troops from both sides fight from largely stationary positions along a roughly 1,500-kilometre (930-mile) frontline, Recent Russian attacks A large number of missiles of various types have been used in an apparent attempt to saturate air defense systems and find weaknesses in Ukraine's defenses.

huge barrage--more than 500 drones and missiles were fired According to Kiev officials, between 29 December and 2 January – Ukraine's weapons stockpile is also being used.

Ukraine uses both Soviet-era weapons and more modern weapons provided by its Western allies. Officials want to build up the country's own weapons manufacturing capabilities, and analysts say these plants are among Russia's recent targets.

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"At the moment, we are completely dependent on supplies of guided air defense missiles for both Soviet and Western systems," Ihnat said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on 7 January that "we lack one very concrete and understandable thing, that is air defense systems" to protect civilian areas and military bases.

"We lack (air defense systems) both on the battlefield and in our cities," he told a Swedish defense conference.

Speaking at a meeting with Russian military officials, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared that Kiev's efforts to increase its firepower "will not change the situation on the contact line and will only escalate the military conflict."

"We retain the strategic initiative along the entire line of contact," Shoigu said. “We will continue to consistently achieve the objectives of the special military operation” – the Kremlin's language for the war in Ukraine.

It was not possible to verify either side's battlefield claims.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has targeted Moscow-occupied Crimea and Russian border areas with long-range attacks.

In the latest attack, two drones fell on Tuesday into the complex of a fuel and energy facility in the Russian city of Orlov, about 250 kilometers (150 miles) from the Ukraine border, Governor Andrei Klychkov said.

Klychkov said three people were injured and a fire broke out, but was quickly extinguished.

Britain's Defense Ministry pointed to repeated indications of shortcomings in Russia's air defenses. Ukrainian Attacks on military bases in Crimea On January 4 this demonstrated "the ineffectiveness of Russian air defense in protecting key locations", it noted on Tuesday.

The Kremlin's forces show no signs of slowing down their winter campaign. in which officials were called The largest air attack of the warOn December 29, Russia launched 122 missiles and dozens of drones, killing 62 civilians across the country. On January 1, Russia launched a record 90 Martyr-type drones across Ukraine.

Analysts say Russia has expanded its production of missiles and drones and has begun using shorter-range missiles Provided by North Korea,

Ukrainian officials have requested the West for more weapons, especially air defense and artillery shells.

However, a plan by US President Joe Biden's administration to send billions of dollars in additional aid to Kiev is stuck in Congress, and Europe's pledge in March to provide 1 million artillery shells within 12 months fell short, only With 300,000 distributed so far.

US-made surface-to-air missile patriot missiles Analysts say they give Ukraine an effective shield against Russian air attacks, but the cost per missile is up to $4 million and each launcher costs about $10 million.

An American think tank said such costly support for Ukraine is "essential".

The Institute for the Study of War said, "Continued and increased Western provision of air defense systems and missiles to Ukraine is critical as Russian forces continue to experiment with new methods to penetrate Ukrainian air defenses."

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