Western weapons delay sparks concerns over shortage of Ukrainian air defense missiles, leading to increased Russian air attacks – ISW
Delays in security assistance from Western allies are raising alarms about a potential shortage of Ukrainian air defense missiles. This likely explains the recent surge in Russian air attacks
This is according to a report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
A report by the ISW highlights that funding and arms delivery delays from Western nations may result in a significant shortfall of Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles. This situation could embolden the Russian military to launch more aggressive air attacks on Ukrainian forces and cities on the front line.
Ukrainian officials have issued warnings of a "critical shortage" of air defense missiles as the delays in Western aid persist, forcing Ukraine to deplete its existing resources.
Analysts point out that Russian forces are consistently applying pressure on Ukraine's limited air defense system in rear areas, deploying Russian missiles, drones, and weapons from Iran and North Korea. This strategy aims to compel Ukrainian forces to exhaust their air defense missiles and relocate defense systems away from the front line.
The ISW report notes a slight reduction in Russia's air support for ground operations across the theater due to events in December 2023, including the downing of Russian fighter jets in the Kherson region and the destruction of the A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft on January 14.
However, the report suggests that the recent escalation of Russian airstrikes has likely intensified pressure on the Ukrainian air defense system, compelling Ukraine to reposition defense assets that previously deterred Russian tactical aircraft along the front and in the Russian rear.
In January 2024, Russian aviation intensified operations to support offensive actions, particularly near Avdiivka, indicating that the "limited Ukrainian air defense missile stocks may be giving Russian aviation more opportunities to attack."
ISW analysts express concern that a critical shortage of Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles could enable Russian forces to deploy aircraft closer to the current contact line in Ukraine and beyond, particularly manned aircraft with heavier payloads.
"The Russian military has yet to conduct consistent large-scale aviation operations supporting Russian ground offensives in Ukraine, and the intensification of Russian aviation operations at scale would represent a significant threat to Ukraine," warns the ISW report.
- The United States contends that, without new supplies, Ukraine's stockpile of air defense missiles is projected to last only until March.