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Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Russia has launched extensive missile and drone strikes on major Ukrainian cities, with experts suggesting the primary objective is to exhaust both the population and air defense systems. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported nearly 300 missiles and over 200 explosive drones used in attacks between December 29 and January 2, resulting in approximately 50 casualties.

Despite Russia claiming to target military installations, Kyiv contends that civilian infrastructure and residential areas have been affected in this winter campaign. Analysts, such as Mick Ryan from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, note that these attacks aim to test the limits of Ukraine’s air defense system, including recently augmented defenses like the US Patriot and Franco-Italian SAMP/T MAMBA.

The strategic approach involves a battle of attrition, where Russia seeks to deplete Ukraine’s interceptor capabilities before exhausting its own arsenal of missiles and drones. The attacks also underscore Russia’s increased arms production compared to the challenges faced by Western powers in supplying adequate anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.

Recent strikes are believed to have targeted Ukraine’s defense industry, with the goal of hindering domestic production. Ukrainian experts emphasize a shift toward greater self-sufficiency in weapons production, citing increased output in ammunition, drones, armored vehicles, and navigation systems.

The multifaceted attacks, involving a mix of modern and older missile models, hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, and drones, not only target Ukraine’s anti-air defenses but also aim to wear down morale among civilians. Analysts suggest that President Vladimir Putin’s strategy is to convey resilience and inflict suffering to pressure both Ukrainians and the international community.

The bombings also carry a retaliatory tone, exemplified by Ukraine’s strike on the Russian city of Belgorod. Experts argue that Putin aims to discourage Ukrainian attacks by demonstrating potential consequences.

Ukraine’s call for additional support from Western allies includes requests for air defense systems, combat drones, and long-range missiles. The delayed delivery of promised F-16 fighter planes adds urgency to Kyiv’s plea for enhanced air defense capabilities.

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