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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Can Russia Hit Ukraine With Enough Missiles to Win the War?

Tu-22 carrying KH-22 missile.

On day 230 of the war in Ukraine, the Kremlin is still trying to deal with the humiliating incident that partially destroyed the Kerch Bridge that links Crimea and Russia.

A Day Full of Missiles Hitting Ukraine

On Monday, the Russian military launched nearly 200 ballistic and cruise missiles against over 20 Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv, the second-largest city, Kharkiv, and the third-largest city and biggest port, Odesa. The Russian salvo continued on Tuesday, too, though at a much lighter level.

But the Ukrainian military is becoming better at locking on and shooting down Russian missiles. At the start of the war, the Ukrainian forces could down perhaps one in ten missiles, but now they can take out more than 50 percent of what the Russian forces launch.

The tremendous improvement in the shooting down of Russian ballistic and cruise missiles is a result of the weapon systems and electronic warfare sensors that Ukraine has received from the West.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine 

Meanwhile, the Russian forces continue to suffer a steady stream of casualties in Ukraine. Although the entire numbers that the Ukrainians are claiming haven’t been verified independently yet, open-source investigators have corroborated a large portion of the Ukrainian claims.

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 63,110 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 268 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 235 attack and transport helicopters, 2,504 tanks, 1,496 artillery pieces, 5,162 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 353 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,916 vehicles and fuel tanks, 181 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,114 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 136 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 295 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Change of Command 

The repeated failures of the Russian military in Ukraine have brought several changes of command up and down the military chain of command.

The latest took place on October 8 when the Russian Ministry of Defense appointed General Sergei Surovikin as the overall commander of the special military operation in Ukraine.

For the better part of the first months of the war, the Russian forces lacked a centralized command and instead relied on three different regional commands that had little communication among them—a further testament to how unprepared the Russian military was for the war.

Surovikin was promoted from his position as commander of the Russian military’s southern grouping forces responsible for Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

TOS-1A Ukraine

TOS-1A fighting in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

“Surovikin’ s appointment likely reflects an effort by the Russian national security community to improve the delivery of the operation. However, he will likely have to contest with an increasingly factional Russian MOD which is poorly resourced to achieve the political objectives it has been set in Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.