Russia launched a new wave of air strikes against Ukraine this Monday (8), killing at least four people and proving the effectiveness of its new tactic of using missiles and drones.
As had already happened since the winter campaign for this type of action began, on December 29, Vladimir Putin’s forces used different types of weapons in order to saturate Ukraine’s anti-aircraft defenses, and chose to target regions devoid of systems. more advanced Westerners.
The result was seen in the accounting, usually inflated to the optimistic side, of Kiev. The Ukrainian Armed Forces said it shot down all eight launched Shahed-136 drones of Iranian origin and 18 of 24 cruise missiles of the Kh-55/101 family, which fly at subsonic speeds.
Already 4 Kinjal hypersonic missiles, 8 Kh-22, 7 S-400 systems, 2 Kh-31 and 6 Iskander ballistic missiles, all flying at speeds far above the speed of sound, passed unscathed and reached several Ukrainian regions.
The proportion of missile and drone shootdowns, 26 out of 59, is well below that usually advertised by Kiev — a study with official data from October 2022 to September 2023 showed that 82% of Russian air strikes were intercepted by Ukrainians. That data showed an increase in the use of drones throughout the year, saving missiles for the current action.
More important is the apparent success in using drones and slower missiles to jam the work of air defenses, leaving the way open for faster, more powerful and destructive weapons. The reported destruction of an American Patriot battery at the end of the year may also help explain the lower Ukrainian efficiency.
Two people were killed in the west of the country, in Khmlnitskii, one in Krivii Rih, the hometown of President Volodimir Zelenski in the center-south, and another, south of Kharkiv (northeast). “The crazy enemy attacked civilians again,” said Governor Serhii Lisak of the Krivii Rih region on Telegram. The Russians, as usual, claimed to have only targeted military targets.
All this reinforces calls for more Western anti-aircraft defenses, repeated for months by the Ukrainians. In the most recent military aid package, released on December 27, the US provided missiles for the Nasams system, but not new launchers.
Germany promised to send another Patriot battery, similar to the one that was destroyed, according to military analysts, in Kiev in December. One of the most capable weapons of its kind in the Western arsenal, it had been positioned in the capital to defend the center of power of the invaded country almost two years ago.
The problem now is the lack of resources. The White House announced that it has no more money or weapons to send to Ukraine, unless Congress unblocks the proposal to direct R$300 billion this year to Kiev.
The Republican opposition, with an eye on the presidential race, claims that the package with this aid and another for Israel does not address the migration crisis on the Mexican border, but the problem is political: there is boredom among congressmen and the population with support for Kiev in the war , especially after the failure of the counteroffensive launched by Zelenski in June.
The Europeans follow suit, with the delayed R$250 billion package for the Ukrainians held back by pressure from Hungary, a country whose government is sympathetic to Russia, and other bureaucratic obstacles.
Germany, Ukraine’s second-largest military donor after the US, is being pressured to supply Taurus long-range cruise missiles, but for now Berlin is refusing, on the grounds that they could reach Russian territory and that would constitute an escalation.
Analysts point to the debut of North Korean ballistic missiles with up to 900 km of range supplied to the Russians in the conflict, confirmed by debris found last week, as a reason to leave modesty aside.
The Kremlin, for its part, is following the new phase of the war aiming to punish Ukraine during the winter, with massive attacks like this Monday’s leading not only to deaths, but also blackouts due to the destruction of energy infrastructure.