Over the past few weeks, the Russian military has launched waves of missile and drone attacks against Ukraine.
However, the Ukrainian air defenses have repelled most of the attacks, highlighting how powerless Moscow now is in the war.
Russian Suicide Drones versus Ukrainian Air Defenses
In May, the Russian forces launched more than 300 Iranian-made Shahed-136 suicide drones and 185 ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure.
The Ukrainian air defenses were able to spot, track, and intercept the vast majority of incoming Russian munitions.
The Kremlin’s strategy has been to launch cheap suicide drones against the Ukrainian air defenses in an attempt to force the Ukrainians to shoot them down with expensive air defense missiles.
By doing that, the Russian military is looking to deplete the Ukrainian stocks and thus weaken the country’s air defense umbrella. The United States and NATO have been leading the effort to arm Ukraine with advanced air defense systems, including the MIM-104 Patriot and IRIS-T weapon systems. However, stocks are limited, and the West can only resupply Ukraine at a certain pace. And yet, the Ukrainians have been using older and cheaper air defense systems to intercept the incoming munitions.
“Russia is unlikely to have been notably successful: Ukraine has neutralised at least 90% of the incoming OWA-UAVs [one way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles] mostly using its older and cheaper air defence weapons and with electronic jamming,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
“Russia has also likely been attempting to locate and strike Ukrainian forces well behind the front line. However, Russia remains very ineffective at hitting such dynamic targets at range because of its poor targeting processes,” the British Military Intelligence added.
The Kremlin continues to prioritize a long-range fires campaign against Ukraine because it understands that it can achieve only so much on the ground, where its forces have failed to achieve anything significant since the start of the war. However, Russian missiles and drones are just a deadly nuisance to Ukraine at this point. Yes, innocent civilians are getting killed and maimed, while others lose their homes. But on the strategic level, Russian strikes have no effect on the outcome of the war other than keeping the West united in its support of Ukraine.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claims that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 210,350 Russian troops, destroyed 313 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 298 attack and transport helicopters, 3,848 tanks, 3,567 artillery pieces, 7,523 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 584 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 6,312 vehicles and fuel tanks, 349 anti-aircraft batteries, 3,189 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 484 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,136 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.