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ISW: Ukraine bypasses Russian air defenses in Russia-occupied Crimea

Ukraine’s multiple successful strikes on Russian military targets across Russian-occupied Crimea demonstrated Ukraine’s growing ability to penetrate Russian defenses. The strikes aimed to degrade the Russian military’s ability to use Crimea as a base for further offensive operations in southern Ukraine
Saky in occupied Crimea by Russian forces, southern Ukraine. Credit: DeepStateMap
ISW: Ukraine bypasses Russian air defenses in Russia-occupied Crimea

Ukrainian forces have carried out multiple strikes against Russian military infrastructure in Russian-occupied Crimea over the past week and “has successfully struck several targets throughout the peninsula,” ISW said in its daily report.

ISW reported, citing a Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger, that “Ukrainian forces are conducting strikes aimed at degrading the Russian air defense over occupied Crimea.”

The ISW did not assess the intent behind Ukraine’s campaign. However, it reported that Ukrainian strikes over the summer of 2023 “pushed Russian naval operations out of the western part of the Black Sea. This aimed to degrade the Russian military’s ability to use Crimea as a base for further offensive operations in southern Ukraine.”

On 5-6 January, Russian sources reported that Ukraine struck an administrative building at the Russian-controlled Saky airbase in Russian-occupied Crimea with up to four Storm Shadow cruise missiles. Ukraine’s Air Force Commander, Mykola Oleshchuk, confirmed strikes at Saky but did not specify the date. Commander Oleshchuk expressed gratitude towards the Ukrainian pilots for their successful operation.

The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on 6 January that the GUR, Ukrainian Air Force, and Ukrainian forces conducted “a complex special operation that struck Russian radar positions at the Saky airfield and an equipment depot near Hryshyne (60km northeast of Yevpatoria) on 4 January.”

ISW reported on 4 January, citing Ukrainian officials, that Ukrainian forces have also struck an air defense radar system and a communications center in Yevpatoria responsible for coordinating Russian air defense operations in Russian-occupied Crimea, ammunition warehouses near Pervomaiske (82km north of Simferopol), and a Russian command post near Sevastopol in strikes since 4 January.

Ukrainian forces are regularly targeting Russian military positions in Crimea, as the peninsula and other occupied territories by Russian forces have become Russian military bases used for further aggression against Ukraine.

Other takeaways from the ISW report:

  • Western provision of air defense systems and missiles to Ukraine in the near- and medium-term remain crucial for Ukraine’s development of a defense industrial base (DIB) that can sustain Ukraine’s war effort against Russia in the long-term.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces continued positional engagements along the entire contact line on 6 January.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues efforts to incentivize service with the Russian military by advertising support for housing.
  • Russian occupation authorities are struggling to provide essential services to residents of occupied areas of Ukraine.

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