Russian forces hit the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv with “kamikaze” drone attacks throughout the night as the city prepared to celebrate its founding anniversary on Sunday.
Russia launched 54 Iranian-made drones in kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine, but air defenses shot down 52 of the drones, according to Ukrainian officials. Two people were killed in Saturday night’s attack, with debris falling on a 41-year-old man and another person who died of unspecified causes, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a statement.
Kyiv celebrates the 1,541st anniversary of its founding on Sunday.
The assault on kyiv came in several large waves throughout the night, with air raid sirens blaring for about 5 hours.
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Ukraine has been largely successful in repelling Russian missile and drone attacks in recent weeks through the deployment of US-made Patriot missile systems. The defense system proved more than a match for Russia’s long-range attacks, with the vast majority of their explosives being brought down in midair.
The Russian military has increasingly resorted to massive Soviet-era bombs in an effort to circumvent Ukrainian air defenses. Russian bombs, resurrected from Cold War-era munitions reserves, have two major advantages over missiles in that they have no propulsion system for air defenses to follow and they remain in the air for barely a minute.
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“This is the evolution of air warfare,” Ukrainian Air Force Lt. Col. Denys Smazhnyi recently told The New York Times. “First they tried cruise missiles, and we shot them down. Then they tried drones, and we shot them down. They’re constantly looking for a way to hit us, and we’re looking for one to intercept them.”
“It’s an evolution, countermeasures, evolution, countermeasures. It’s a non-stop process, unfortunately,” he added.
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Russian forces have even gone so far as to retrofit large bombs with wings and navigation systems to extend both their range and lethality, US officials reportedly told The Times.
With no way to counter the bombs themselves, Ukrainian forces must target the planes that drop them, a tall order for a national air force with planes far older than modern Russian planes.
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The crude bombs contributed to Ukraine’s calls for the United States and other Western allies to provide F-16 fighter jets. They say the aircraft would allow them to keep their airspace clear while maintaining defense against long-range attacks.