Ukraine Air Defense failure: 33 Russian Missiles Pierce Through, Sparking Deadly Attack

Ukraine Air Defense failure: 33 Russian Missiles Pierce Through, Sparking Deadly Attack

In a recent statement, Ukraine’s Air Force revealed a concerning shortfall in their air defense capabilities, noting that of the 51 missiles launched by Russia overnight, only 18 were successfully intercepted. The Ukrainian military labeled this missile attack as “massive,” resulting in at least four casualties. The low success rate was attributed to Russia targeting unprotected regions across Ukraine, according to Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat.

General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s armed forces commander, highlighted that the eastern and southern regions, along with critical infrastructure, bore the brunt of the attack. Notably, Kyiv was spared as it benefits from protection, including at least one U.S.-supplied Patriot missile defense system.

Ukraine Air Defense failure
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, emergency workers help a wounded man after a residential houses were badly damaged in a Russian missile attack, near Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, Jan. 8, 2024.
Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP

The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed the use of “high-precision” weapons, including hypersonic ballistic missiles, targeting Ukrainian arms production facilities. Despite concerns about the depletion of Ukraine’s air defense missile stocks, officials have not disclosed specific details. Ukrainian military spokesperson Ignat hinted at other factors influencing the low success rate.

This missile onslaught comes at a critical time when U.S. military aid for Ukraine is dwindling. Ongoing negotiations for an additional $60 billion in funding face obstacles related to disagreements on new controls for the U.S. border. House Speaker Mike Johnson emphasized that Ukraine aid hinges on changes to border security laws, creating uncertainty about additional support.

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Prominent Ukrainian Parliament member Oleksandra Ustinova warned in December that ammunition stocks were running critically low, forcing a shift to a more defensive strategy if U.S. military support wanes. This shortage has prompted a halt to all offensive operations by Ukraine’s army.

The success rate of 35% in this recent Russian missile barrage is significantly lower than in previous attacks. Last year, Ukraine’s air force claimed near-perfect shoot-down rates, with percentages reaching 71% and 72% in December 2023 and early January 2024, respectively.

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Amid concerns of ongoing missile and drone strikes, exacerbated by harsh winter conditions, U.S. and Ukrainian officials suspect the involvement of North Korean missiles during recent Russian attacks. Additionally, warnings about Iran potentially supplying Russia with short-range ballistic missiles raise further apprehensions.

The war’s toll on Ukraine’s energy grid, coupled with the potential for widespread power shortages this winter if airspace protection is inadequate, adds another layer of concern. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba acknowledged in November that the country was bracing for what could be the “worst winter ever.”

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