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Lack of Air Defense Systems is Allowing Russia to Make Strategic Gains


According to the Institute for the Study of War, the lack of air defense systems is allowing Russia to make small, but steady strategic gains.

Russian strikes are forcing Ukraine to make difficult decisions between providing air defense coverage areas in the rear and active areas on the frontline. Russia appears to be taking advantage of Ukraine’s lack of air defense systems in an attempt to collapse Ukraine’s energy network and constrain Ukraine’s defense capacity while Russia ground troops take advantage of their ability to use air strikes on Ukrainian frontline positions to make slow, but steady advances.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assesses that the sparse and inconsistent air defense coverage along the front has likely played a role in Russia’s intensification of guided and unguided glide bomb strikes, a tactic Russians has used in their seizure of Avdiivka in February 2024, and seem to be using currently in their offensive operation near Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Region.

Ukraine is stressing to its partners the importance of getting Patriot defense systems as quickly as possible in order to avoid the destruction of critical infrastructure.

According to Ukrinform, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba has emphasized the urgency of providing Patriots to Ukraine. This happened on the sidelines of Ukrainian-Slovak government consultations in Michalovce, Slovakia, on April 11, when asked whether he had discussed the destruction of the Trypilska power plant with his European colleagues:

“We raised this discussion… What is there to discuss? It’s simple, give us Patriots! If we had Patriots, we wouldn’t have lost all of this today,” commented Minister Kuleba.

The massive Russian attack on Ukraine on the night of 10-11 April, that targeted Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa and Lviv Regions, has resulted in the following consequences:

  • The complete destruction of Centrenergo’s (Ukrainian electric and thermal producing company) Trypilska thermal power plant in Kyiv region, which provided electricity in Kyiv, Cherkasy and Zhytomyr regions.

  • The Ukrainian energy company DTEK confirmed 2 of its thermal power stations to be damaged as a consequence of the attack.

  • One of the most difficult situations was observed in the Kharkiv Region, where close to 240,000 people were left without electricity.

  • In Lviv Region, Russia targeted gas distribution infrastructure facility in Stryiskyi district and an electrical substation in Chervonohrad.

  • An energy infrastructure facility was damaged in Zaporizhzhia Region.

In an interview with national television on April 6, President Zelenskyy stated the exact amount of Patriots needed to protect Ukraine.

I will not tell you how many Patriot systems we have. I can say that to cover Ukraine completely in the future, it is preferable to have 25 Patriot systems, with 6-8 batteries each.

President Zelenskyy

The lack of air defense systems is hindering Ukraine’s ability to protect its frontline and infrastructure. This vulnerability allows Russia to consistently launch the biggest combined attacks on the Ukrainian energy infrastructure since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

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