Russia on Monday claimed to have destroyed Ukrainian air defense systems in an apparent bid to gain air superiority and deprive Ukraine of weapons that kyiv sees as crucial to countering an impending Russian offensive from the east.
Russia’s initial offensive stalled on several fronts in the face of staunch Ukrainian resistance, which prevented the Russians from taking the capital and other cities. The lack of air superiority has prevented the Russians from sheltering their troops on the ground from the air, limiting their advance and probably making them easy targets for the Ukrainians.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Russia used cruise missiles to destroy four S-300 anti-aircraft platforms outside Dnipro. He claimed that some 25 Ukrainian servicemen were hit by Sunday’s attack.RELATED
Konashenkov said that Ukraine received the anti-aircraft systems from a European country that he did not name. Last week, Slovakia said it had given Ukraine Soviet-designed S-300 systems, but Slovakia says it has no evidence its batteries were hit.
Facing its failure to take much of Ukraine, Russia has resorted to aerial bombardment of urban centers. The war has reduced entire cities to rubble, killed thousands of people and left Russia politically and economically isolated.
Ukrainian authorities accuse Russia of committing war crimes, including the massacre of civilians outside kyiv, bombing hospitals and a missile attack that killed at least 57 people at a train station.
Now Russia is regrouping for an offensive across Donbas, a region in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian government since 2014 and have declared independent states. Both sides are preparing for what could be a devastating war of attrition.
Russia has appointed a seasoned general as commander of the war, according to US officials, although the same officials suspect that one person will not make much of a difference.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pleading with the West for more weapons, insisting that his forces need more military power to withstand an impending Russian offensive.
On Sunday Zelensky declared, as he did in a previous interview with the AP, that the coming week will be crucial.
“To be honest, our survival depends on this,” Zelensky said in an interview with the “60 Minutes” interview.
“Unfortunately, I am not totally sure that we will receive everything that we need,” he added.
Zelensky thanked US President Joe Biden and other Western leaders for their military support so far, but added that he “long ago” handed them a list of specific items Ukraine needs to defend itself.
In a video address to the South Korean parliament on Monday, Zelensky specifically called for systems capable of intercepting Russian missiles.
Such war equipment could be targeted by Russian attacks as Russia tries to turn the tide in the war.
Anna reported from Bucha and Yesica Fisch in Borodyanko, Ukraine. Associated Press correspondents around the world contributed to this report.
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