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Russia's New Tactics in Ukraine War: How NATO's Air Defense Systems Are Responding

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Russia's evolving tactics in the Ukraine war, including low-altitude missile attacks, present new challenges for Ukraine's air defense. NATO allies respond with additional air defense systems to bolster Ukraine's defenses.

Russia's Evolving Strategy in Ukraine War

Russia's tactics in the Ukraine war are constantly evolving, with recent attacks on Kiev indicating a new approach. On July 8, a Ukrainian children's hospital was among the targets hit by Russian forces. According to Yurii Ihnat, a former spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, the focus is on reconnaissance and the efficiency of missiles and drones. The rockets in these attacks flew at particularly low altitudes, sometimes only 50 meters above the ground, making them difficult to intercept. Only about three-quarters of the rockets were intercepted, posing a significant challenge for Ukraine's air defense.

The Role of Air Defense Systems

The UN has stated it is 'very likely' that the Ochmatdyt children's hospital was hit by a Russian CH-101 cruise missile. This missile, with stealth technology, is challenging to detect and allows for low-altitude contour flight. The Ukrainian air defense has had relatively good interception rates for CH-101 missiles in the past, but the new strategy of minimizing detection and increasing low-altitude flights presents new challenges. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for additional air defense resources, a plea that was echoed at the recent NATO summit.

During the NATO summit in Washington, allies committed to providing Ukraine with five new air defense batteries. US President Joe Biden announced that the first F-16 fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands would be operational this summer. These jets, along with additional Patriot batteries and other defense systems, aim to bolster Ukraine's defensive capabilities. Despite these efforts, the intensity and tactical flexibility of Russian attacks continue to strain Ukraine's defensive shield.

Russia's strategy of using various types of missiles and drones complicates the timely detection and destruction of these threats. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has detailed the importance of anti-aircraft defense systems, including the newly promised Patriot batteries, SAMP-T systems, and other tactical air defense systems from NATO allies. These systems are crucial for protecting Ukrainian cities, civilians, and critical infrastructure.

The recent attacks underscore the need for robust air defense systems. The Russian attack on the Ochmatdyt pediatric hospital highlighted the effectiveness of cruise missiles like the CH-101, which can be launched from areas out of range of Ukrainian artillery. Despite the challenges, Ukraine's air defense systems, including those newly promised by NATO allies, are essential for mitigating the impact of these attacks and enhancing the sense of protection among the civilian population.

  • US President Joe Biden emphasized the importance of NATO's support for Ukraine, announcing a new American Patriot system as part of a broader effort to protect Ukraine from Russian air attacks. Germany, Romania, and the Netherlands have also pledged to provide Ukraine with additional Patriot systems and other air defense resources.
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged leaders to continue supporting Ukraine, stating that the outcome of the conflict will shape global security for decades. The NATO summit in Washington highlighted the alliance's resolve to support Ukraine and strengthen its connection to NATO, with new aid packages being announced to bolster Ukraine's defensive capabilities.
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