NATO anti-aircraft arms donations did not offset Ukraine’s losses

Last week, Slovakia became the first country to donate a sophisticated Russian-made anti-S-300 anti-aircraft system to Ukraine, as leaders in Kiev stressed the need for better anti-aircraft weapons to blunt Russia’s punitive aerial bombardment.

But the Slovak system alone is not enough to fill Ukraine’s distorted anti-aircraft network. As Kiev prepares to counter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s renewed offensive in the eastern Donbass region, Ukrainian leaders are increasingly emphasizing the need to protect their airspace and the importance of Western support.

Confirmed by Slovakia’s Ministry of Defense Newsweek It sent an S-300 system to Ukraine. The transfer was facilitated by Germany and the Netherlands, which sent US-made Patriot anti-aircraft systems to Slovakia to release the Slovakian-inherited S-300 after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

“We hope that this organization will help save as many innocent Ukrainians as possible from further aggression by Putin’s regime,” the Slovakian Defense Ministry said in a statement last week.

This file photo shows the launch of the S-300 PMU-1 anti-aircraft missile on December 13, 2013 during a Greek military exercise near Sania on the island of Crete. Slovakia was the first country to donate a state-of-the-art S-300 anti-aircraft aircraft. Organization for Ukraine.
Costas Metaxoxis / AFP via Getty Images

It is believed that there were about 100 S-300 batteries in Ukraine before the invasion, with a total of about 300 launchers. Open source statistics show that at least 21 launchers have been lost — equivalent to seven batteries. Newsweek The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine was contacted for comment.

If Ukraine’s anti-aircraft cargo is slow, it’s stable, which is of great concern to leaders in Kyiv. The fight will continue for a long time, and the missiles will be destroyed. Ukraine will eventually run less on missiles.

Russia has already said it destroyed a Slovakian S-300 in a missile strike on Dinibro. The office of Slovakian Prime Minister Edward Heger has dismissed the claim as “misinformation”.

Since the start of the invasion, Ukrainian authorities have called on Western nations to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, and NATO has repeatedly rejected the request for fear of direct confrontation with Russian forces.

NATO countries also planned to supply Russian-made warplanes to Ukraine, which provoked frustration in Kyiv. Providing long-range anti-aircraft systems will reduce the Russian threat and further increase the risk.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba traveled to Brussels on Thursday to meet with NATO foreign ministers. His weapons claims included “heavy air defense systems” such as the S-300.

Greece and Bulgaria also have S-300s that can theoretically be shipped to Ukraine. But doing so would reduce these countries’ own military readiness. Neither Athens nor Sofia have yet shown any willingness to transfer their S-300s to Ukraine.

The failure to dismantle Ukraine’s anti-aircraft systems was evident by the Russian armed forces. The Russian Air Force has been devoured by Ukraine’s air force, long- and medium-range anti-aircraft systems and aerial weapons launched from portable shoulder surfaces. Ukraine says it has shot down 154 planes and 137 helicopters since the start of the invasion on February 24.

Ukraine has received about 25,000 portable anti-aircraft weapons since the start of the invasion, Army Chief of Staff General Mark Millie said on Thursday. The Ukrainians, he said, were “extraordinarily thankful” for this support.

But these shoulder weapons do not reach high-altitude targets like the S-300 and other similar systems. They will not be able to intercept the Russian ballistic missiles that have caused so much damage to the Ukrainian military and civilian targets and infrastructure.

The best Ukraine long-range anti-aircraft umbrella will be forced to fly low Russian aircraft. This makes them more vulnerable to weapons that can be carried by Ukrainian ground forces.

Russian planes enjoy more freedom in the air than their Ukrainian counterparts. Last week, the Pentagon reported that Russian planes were flying about 250 a day. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are generally limited to five to 10 wars.

The latest Russian air operation is centered in the east and south, where Moscow’s troops are thought to be planning a major offensive in hopes of capturing Donbass.

Russian progress in the East has been limited. Its troops were more successful in the south, establishing a land corridor from the annexed Crimean peninsula to the occupied Donbass.

Former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk said that Russia had “amassed some aircraft in the area”. Newsweek Of the Eastern Front. Anti-aircraft reinforcements will “certainly” change the military balance in the East, if Ukraine can buy them in a timely manner, Zakorodnyuk said.

Said Andriy Ryzhenko, retired naval captain and former deputy commander of the Ukrainian Navy. Newsweek The Slovakian S-300 will not make a big difference. “But it helps anyway,” he said.

Raisenko said Russia’s air power was Ukraine’s biggest problem. “Only air strikes dominate them,” he explained. Referring to Ukraine’s successful counterattacks on all Russian axes of invasion, he said, “It makes up for the loss of their land.”

Russian victory in the East will turn the war in favor of Putin. The victory in the Donbass could provide an impetus for Russia to re-threaten Kiev and other coastal areas of Ukraine. Another chaotic defeat, as happened to the Russians outside Kiev, will further weaken Putin’s position and reduce his options.

Russia, Jet, Ukraine
The wreckage of a Russian Su-34 fighter jet was found in April 2022 in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. Leaders in Kiev have stressed the need for better anti-aircraft weapons to blunt Russia’s punitive airstrikes.
GeneralStaffZSU / Zenger

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