According to many international analysts, the attacks were not accidental: the aim was to defeat Ukraine's limited anti-missile defenses, CNN reported. And there are results. Out of 51 missiles launched by Russia on January 8, only 18 were shot down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems. According to Oleksiy Melnyk, associate director of international security programs at the Razumkov think tank in Kyiv, the latest series of Russian attacks were actually “very well planned”.
An unequaled weapon
To achieve their targets, Russian soldiers use various techniques, such as painting the drones black to camouflage them or using jet drones that are faster and harder to shoot down. In the face of these sophisticated and destructive weapons, Ukrainian forces are struggling. On their side of the border, equipment is thin. “They once flew in a single track, but now they zigzag”, worried Sergeant Major Vitaly Yasinsky, commander of the Ukrainian Presidential Brigade, speaking to CNN. “A drone can fly, then circle, hang, descend all the way, then rise for about half a kilometer, then fly sharply downward. They are now highly maneuverable and must be discovered and destroyed.“
To counter this new threat, Yasinsky uses small mobile units installed in a network of advanced Western missile defense systems. But the anti-aircraft missiles deployed by Western countries are sometimes very old and limit Ukrainians' abilities to protect critical infrastructure and civilians. Therefore, to limit the impact of Russian strikes, Ukraine would need to target Russian infrastructure on the other side of the border, an attack that was badly received by Russia. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced this Thursday that Moscow would seek nuclear power if Ukraine continues to attack its territory.
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Change of goals
According to Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, the Russian airstrikes added a “genocide element” compared to last winter's offensives. According to the adviser, Russia is now targeting civilians in strikes against major cities, a charge Moscow has repeatedly denied. But statistically, we can actually see an increase in civilian casualties in Russian attacks. In particular, 33 people were killed in Kyiv on December 29 during strikes that destroyed 100 houses and 45 buildings, Volodymyr Zelensky reported.
“The most painful thing is that they affect civilians, homes, kindergartens”, lamented a soldier from an air defense unit outside Kyiv to CNN. “It is incompatible with the customs of war and incompatible with human morality. It is immoral.”
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