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ISW says Ukrainian air defense depleted due to delayed US military aid

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has compared Ukraine’s depleted air defense systems with Israel’s robust air defense umbrella that successfully defended against a large-scale Iranian missile and drone attack on 13 April
Patriot ukraine air defense
Patriot SAMs in Ukraine. Photo: Oleksiy Reznikov via X
ISW says Ukrainian air defense depleted due to delayed US military aid

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) compared on 14 April the air defense capabilities and ability to repel enemy attacks of Israel and Ukraine, pointing out that Ukrainian air defense is depleted due to delays in US military aid.

“Delays in the US military assistance to Ukraine combined with improvements in Russian strike tactics have led to increasing effectiveness of the Russian strike campaign in Ukraine,” said the ISW.

ISW contrasts Ukraine’s situation with Israel’s success in defending against a large-scale Iranian missile and drone strike on 13 April.

According to the report, “Israel’s also has a robust air defense umbrella that is responsible for responding to potential attacks across shorter borders with its neighbors, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank; whereas, Ukraine has increasingly degraded air defense capabilities to employ against missile and drone strikes across a much wider frontline in Ukraine as well as its international borders with Belarus and Russia.”

“Ukraine also currently cannot conduct air-to-air interception with fixed-wing aircraft as Israel and its allies did on the night of 13 April. Ukraine’s large size compared to Israel makes it more difficult for Ukraine to emulate the density of air defense coverage that Israel enjoys, especially amid continued delays in US security assistance,” the report said.

ISW notes that Russian milbloggers responded to the 13 April Iranian strikes against Israel by suggesting that the increased threat of military escalation in the Middle East will likely draw Western, specifically the US, attention and aid away from Ukraine.”

The report cites Russian milbloggers’ claims that “if Ukraine does not receive additional Western air defense systems, Russian drones and missiles will ‘safely cruise’ in uncontested Ukrainian air space.”

ISW emphasizes that Ukraine’s capacity to defend against Russian offensives and strikes heavily relies on continued US security assistance. The longer Ukrainian forces remain under-provisioned, the more challenging it becomes to fend off Russian offensive operations. To establish an air defense system remotely comparable to the successful joint effort employed by Israel and its allies on 13 April, Ukraine requires substantial provisions of Western air defense systems and fighter jets capable of intercepting drones and missiles.

Other takeaways from the report:

  • Russia’s strike campaign against Ukraine demonstrates that even a limited number of successful ballistic or cruise missile strikes can cause significant and likely long-term damage to energy and other infrastructure, highlighting the need for an effective and well-provisioned air defense umbrella capable of a sustained high rate of interception.
  • Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi reported that the senior Russian military command aims to seize Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast by Russia’s Victory Day holiday on 9 May.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has reportedly fired the commanders of a combined arms army and motorized rifle regiment operating in southern Ukraine likely for failing to recapture areas lost during the Ukrainian summer-fall 2023 counteroffensive.
  • Ukrainian forces advanced south of Kreminna and southwest of Donetsk City and Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Chasiv Yar (west of Bakhmut) and Avdiivka

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