Two waves of missile strikes on Ukrainian air bases by Russia in the space of 24 hours have negated Ukraine’s alleged success in its ability to intercept them.
On the night of May 28-29, Russia claimed to have struck Ukrainian air bases in the western part of the country with air-to-air cruise missiles that destroyed planes and ammunition depots. A few hours later, on May 29, missiles targeted the capital, Kiev, in what CNN quoted Ukrainian officials as saying it was a “surprise daytime attack” that showed Russia was “changing tactics”.
Since the beginning of the month, Ukraine has reported increased launches of Russian cruise missiles, Geranium-2 suicide drones, and even Kinjal hypersonic missiles, which it claims were shot down by US-made Patriot PAC-3 SAMs.
Waves of Russian missile strikes
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD), in the first wave of strikes on Ukrainian airfields, “high-precision long-range weapons” were used against enemy targets at airfields. The raid destroyed “command centers, radar stations, as well as an aircraft and ammunition depot.”
A Reuters report stated that there was a “rare acknowledgment” (on the Ukrainian side) of damage to a military “target”. “Ukraine said that work is underway to restore the runway and that five planes have been decommissioned in the western region of Khmelnytskyi.”
A military airport was established in the area before the war. “At the moment, work is continuing to contain fires at fuel, lubricants and ammunition storage facilities,” the Khmelnytsky region governor’s office said.
Other reports from Russia, citing unnamed military officials, stated that more than one air base was bombed. There was no confirmation from Ukraine of damage to the other air bases.
A few hours later, on Monday morning, the city of Kiev was rocked by another barrage of missile strikes, with many casualties and explosions reported from the central part of the city.
Ukraine falls a lot of falls
According to CNN, Ukraine claimed to have shot down 11 Iskander ballistic missiles. It also quoted the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Gen. Valeriy Zalogny, as saying that 37 cruise missiles and dozens of Jiran 2s and an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft (UAV) were shot down.
Also in a previous missile barrage on Kiev on May 16, Ukraine claimed to have shot down all 18 of Russia’s missiles, Fox News said, making it one of the rare instances of a “perfect success rate”.
Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kiev military department, said the missiles fired from land, air and sea were “extraordinary in their density – the maximum number of offensive missiles in the shortest period of time”.
Ukrainian forces tracked six ballistic missiles launched from MiG-31Ks, nine cruise missiles launched from the Black Sea, and three other land-based missiles.
But projections don’t matter
Ukraine began reporting success against Russian aerial missiles since the beginning of this year, claiming on January 31 and February 1 that it had shot down 89 Geranium-2 suicide drones.
However, reports also indicated the futility of intercepting Russian missiles and drones because their role was to lure and deplete Ukrainian missile stocks.
CNN’s report on the two waves of missile strikes on May 29, referring to Iran’s drones (which Russia calls the Geranium-2 or Geran after manufacturing versions of its own), said the drones are achieving this goal.
She added, “The biggest goal on the part of the Russians in sending waves of ‘Shahid’ aircraft is likely to weaken the Ukrainian air defenses and force them to exhaust their already meager ammunition on the drone squadrons.”
It also said that Russia had changed its tactics by carrying out the attacks in the daytime.
This new strategy takes the opponent by surprise and, in theory, is expected to force him to make mistakes. The transmission of missile waves may also be timed during daylight hours as crews change hands.
Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, indicated that it was the Patriot missile that was behind the interception of 11 Iskander ballistic missiles.
“If the Iskander-M missiles are intercepted, conclusions can be drawn about which means specifically hit the targets — ballistic targets,” Ihnat told Ukrainian TV.
However, the Patriots are in limited number, are not manufactured in Ukraine, and come from stockpiles of the US-led NATO alliance.
The ultimate goal is to “kill” the Patriot either by direct hit, which the Kinjal hypersonic missiles attempted to do, or by exhausting it to the core.