Will Ukraine Be Able To Keep Its Ground In The Air War?

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  • The worst days of the war in Syria came years into the conflict, and sadly people were just paying less attention.
  • What would be a tolerable and sustainable loss to control Ukraine’s skies is also an unknown.
  • The other unknown when it comes to how long this war will last is how long Ukraine’s allies can realistically keep providing weapons that the Ukrainian forces are trained to use.

The fact that Russia has yet to acquire air superiority is perhaps the biggest surprise that President Vladimir Putin has faced since his invasion of Ukraine last month as reported by CNN.

Control of skies

On paper, Russia’s military prowess implies that along with quick ground victories, the Russian air force should have been able swiftly to take control of the skies.

Russia’s overall defence budget of $45.8 billion is almost 10 times that of its neighbour.

“As far as I understand, they were able to save a large part of their air force by moving planes from airfields before the Russians destroyed them, based on intelligence ahead of attacks,” says Gen. Riho Terras, a former commander of the Estonian Defense Forces.

Those reinforcements include S-300 anti-aircraft systems, Stingers and Javelin missiles that have been used by Ukraine so far.

“The S-300s are the high-altitude — sort of like our Patriot battery of missiles — anti-aircraft system.”

The fact that they are in-country and more are coming is going to be very effective.

High risk to Russia

It remains the case that Russia’s military is much larger, that NATO is unwilling to get directly involved or set up a no-fly zone and that, the longer the war drags on, the more Ukraine will rely on its allies to provide lethal weapons.

“Is he willing to emulate Aleppo and commit atrocities so visible to the rest of the world?

This conflict is only three weeks old,” she says.

If Putin were willing to go to the extremes seen in Syria, Antrobus points out, it would come with a much higher risk to Russia, “because of the anti-aircraft weaponry Ukraine has and is being supplied with.”

“There has been little evidence shown that the Russian air force is capable of the large-scale complex air operations that this task would require.”

No-fly zone plea

The other unknown when it comes to how long this war will last is how long Ukraine’s allies can realistically keep providing weapons that the Ukrainian forces are trained to use.

Many of the weapons sent, including the S-300s that McCaul told CNN had arrived in Ukraine as of Wednesday, are from the Soviet era and it’s unknown how readily they can be resupplied.

Slovakia has preliminarily agreed to send more supplies into the country.

NATO has made clear many times that it will not provide a no-fly zone above Ukraine because it doesn’t want to get dragged into a NATO-Russia war.

This is where the optimism of those who have watched Ukraine defend itself hits a major road bump.

The extent to which Ukraine can credibly defend its skies will rely on how far the Western alliance is willing to go.

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Source: CNN

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