Ukraine called for more air-defense systems from the West to defend itself against Russian missile-and-drone attacks that have targeted its energy infrastructure in recent weeks, a senior Ukrainian official said Wednesday.
the chief of Ukraine’s presidential staff, said he requested additional air defenses in calls with the U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and senior French and British officials.
Air defense is becoming a critical new front in the war after Russia launched a series of aerial attacks that have wreaked havoc on Ukraine’s electrical infrastructure in a campaign designed to leave residents in the cold and dark as winter approaches, according to Ukrainian officials.
Ukraine’s air defenses, including a patchwork of Soviet-era systems, achieved surprising success against Russian warplanes and helicopters in the early days after Russia invaded in February, denying the Russian military control of the skies.
But in recent weeks, Russia has launched waves of missiles and Iranian-made drones that pose a new challenge for Ukrainian air defenses. Low- and slow-flying drones pose a technical challenge for a previous generation of air defenses designed to shoot down jet fighters and helicopters, military analysts say. Russian forces have also used barrages of dozens of missiles and drones to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses.
Those recent attacks have reached deep into western and central Ukraine, disrupting the relative calm that prevailed after Ukraine forced Russian forces to withdraw from areas near the capital, Kyiv, in April. The attacks have knocked out the water and electricity to broad sections of Ukraine, raising anxieties among Ukrainians and heightening concerns in Europe about another possible wave of refugees leaving the country.
“We need air defense systems as soon as possible,” Mr. Yermak said in a social-media post.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said in its morning update on Wednesday that Russia launched five rocket attacks and up to 30 airstrikes at more than 40 settlements across the country, including in the Kharkiv, Dnipro and Kherson regions of eastern Ukraine.
“Violating the norms of International Humanitarian Law, the laws and customs of war, [Russia] continues to strike critical infrastructure and the homes of the civilian population,” the general staff said.
Separately, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday that a Russian missile strike on a gas station in Dnipro killed two people, including a pregnant woman. Four others were wounded in the attack, the regional governor said in a social-media post that included images that appeared to show the charred remains of a gas station and a hatchback car.
Russia’s attacks on areas far from the front lines in eastern Ukraine come as the Kremlin’s forces are losing ground to a Ukrainian offensive that has reclaimed a swath of territory previously occupied by the Russian military.
Ukrainian forces are on the offensive in northeastern and southeastern Ukraine, where they have rolled back Russian advances in recent weeks. Russian forces have continued to go on the offensive in two other areas, around the towns of Avdiivka and Bakhmut, though with little success.
“The enemy is shelling the positions of our troops along the contact line, carrying out fortification equipment of positions in certain directions and conducting aerial reconnaissance,” the Ukrainian general staff said.
On Tuesday, the chief executive officer of
Raytheon Technologies Corp.
said the weapons maker had delivered mobile air-defense systems known as Nasams, which are capable of shooting down drones, missiles, and airplanes. CEO
said in an interview with CNBC television that the two systems were being installed imminently.
The short- and medium-range Nasams could become part of a layered approach to air defense that Ukraine needs to defend itself against the complex threat of Russian drones, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and jet fighters, Western officials say.
The Pentagon has said the U.S. is sending two Nasams to Ukraine within the next two months. Another six Nasams systems have been earmarked for Ukraine, but Pentagon and industry officials said it could take around 18 months or more to finish and deliver them.
Earlier in October, Germany delivered the first of four Iris-T medium range missile systems.
Write to Jared Malsin at [email protected]
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