Ukraine grows more proficient in defense against Russian drones: Live updates

Credit…Laura Boushnak for The New York Times

Ukraine shot down all of the exploding drones Russia shot in the new year, an Air Force spokesman said on Tuesday, in a gauge of the country’s growing capabilities. in countering Moscow’s attempt to disable its energy infrastructure.

“Such results have never been achieved before,” spokeswoman Yurii Ihnat said on Ukrainian television, referring to the night of December 31 and January 1.

Russia launched its latest batch of Iranian-made weapons, nicknamed “aircraft cars” because of their relative slow speed, at targets inside Ukraine on Monday. No one made it to the finish line because of anti-aircraft guns, surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets, a rare outage. Only 20 drones were shot down in Kiev.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his troops started the new year by fiercely fighting off drone attacks from above.

“It’s only been two days since the beginning of the year that the number of Iranian drones shot down over Ukraine is more than 80.” Mr. Zelensky said late Monday in his nightly address.

In October, about a month after Russia began deploying the Shahed drone, a Ukrainian adviser defense minister said that they shot down more than 70% of the drones.

As winter approaches, the ground fighting in Ukraine has turned into a war of attrition, and the focus has shifted to the air war in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and other major cities.

Russia has launched a series of drone and cruise missile attacks to cut off electricity and water supplies to civilians, leaving 25% of the country’s population without power at one point. Monday’s drone attack was the latest in a series of attacks late in the year, including one kill three civilians on New Year’s Eve.

Credit…Laura Boushnak for The New York Times

Given that Ukraine’s defensive measures are more costly than Russia’s air offensive methods, some military experts fear the growing imbalance could over time benefit Russia. In his nightly address on Monday, Mr. Zelensky said his government had intelligence indicating that Russian attacks using the Shaheds would have no end.

“We have information that Russia is planning a protracted attack on the Shaheds,” he said, according to a transcript released by his office. “Its bet could be exhaustion – the exhaustion of our people, our air defenses, our energy industry.”

With each strike, however, Ukraine’s forces are getting better at destroying drones before they hit their targets, giving Ukraine what Zelensky calls “victory victories.” small before terrorists and terrorists”.

“Every drone shot down, every missile shot down, every day power to our people and minimal blackout schedule are exactly such victories,” he said.

One reason for the success against the drone campaign could be the US decision in early November supply Ukraine with an advanced surface-to-air missile system, known as NASAMS. It includes radar, sensors, launchers and a mobile command center.

According to the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, an agency of the Ukrainian government, US missile systems played a role in Monday’s attack.

“Despite learning how to operate them a few weeks ago, our military uses them almost like artillery, reloading them as quickly as possible,” the center said on Twitter. “The very successful use of these weapons shows that our soldiers learn very quickly.”

Mick Mulroy, a former senior Pentagon official and retired CIA officer, said training has helped Ukrainian forces manage sophisticated weapons better.

On the other hand, he said, it seems give up about the idea of ​​winning the war with a traditional land war, at least for the foreseeable future.

“It seems their backup plan is just to blow the country to pieces,” he said. “You can’t win a war with air strikes.”

Victoria Kim and Matthew Mpoke Bigg contribution report.


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