Ukraine is currently fending off 87 percent of all Russian missile attacks to protect the country, civilians and critical energy infrastructure, Kiev sources told the Financial Times. But the Ukrainian defense is gradually running out of anti-missiles. That’s why Kiev is now demanding that NATO send anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine as soon as possible.
The defense rate is a testament to the effectiveness of Ukraine’s air defense systems, which, while mostly dating from the Soviet era, have recently been augmented with modern western equipment. However, Ukraine is using up its defense ammunition “at a blistering rate”, while Moscow is also running out of missile stocks.
Nevertheless, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy explains: “The absence of massive missile attacks only means that the enemy is preparing for new ones and can strike at any time.” According to estimates by the Ukrainian military intelligence service, Russia still has an arsenal of around 360 cruise missiles. This would be enough for at least five waves of attacks, said spokesman Vadim Skibizkyj.
That is why Kiev is calling on NATO to provide modern air defense systems. Because the ammunition is running out. “If hundreds of missiles are fired at us, we knock down 70 to 80 percent. Do they go out or not? Of course they do,” said Yuriy Ignat, the chief spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force.
On October 10, the Russian army launched massive airstrikes on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure on an almost weekly basis. On that day, Ukraine was only able to fend off 54 percent of the rocket and drone attacks, says Kiev. This led to extensive damage to the power grid. On November 23, the Ukrainian army was able to repel around 76 percent of all Russian air attacks. In last week’s attacks, Ukrainian forces have already intercepted 87 percent of Russian missiles. Kiev’s improved anti-aircraft capability is a clear sign of the contribution Western military technology is making to the defense.
The British “Royal United Services Institute” also warned in its latest report that the West must “overcome its complacency” in order to recognize the need to increase Ukraine’s air defense capacities. It goes on to say, “If Ukraine’s surface-to-air systems run out of ammunition, it could open the sky for Russian heavy bombers operating at medium and high altitudes, with devastating consequences.”
Speed is now required, agrees Oleksiy Melnyk, a former lieutenant colonel in the Ukrainian Air Force and now co-director of the Razumkov Center think tank in Kiev. Ukraine’s air defenses have made great strides since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression. Still, he appeals: “Trying to predict that one day Russia will run out of missiles is probably not a good strategy.”