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Podolyak: Ukraine needs more air defenses to protect its cities

by Martin Fornusek July 27, 2023 11:08 PM 2 min read
A soldier faces the launcher of a Patriot air defense system during the air defense exercise "Resilient Guard 2020" on Oct. 14, 2020, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. (Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Ukraine needs more air defense systems from its partners to protect its major cities against Russian missile threats, Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine's Presidential Office, told the Guardian in an interview on July 27.

Podolyak said that the recent strikes on Odesa illustrate Russian tactics to attack Ukraine's cities by overwhelming their air defenses.

"Russia's tactics are clear: they use massive drone attacks to overload our anti-aircraft systems and then in parallel, they have a window of opportunity to use ballistic missiles to target infrastructure," the presidential advisor told the Guardian in Kyiv.

While Ukraine's capital is better-protected thanks to a complex air defense system using Western weaponry, Odesa is more vulnerable, the newspaper commented.

Ukrainian defenses need additional modern air-defense systems like Patriots to defend against air-launched ballistic Kh-47 Kinzhal missiles or Onyx cruise missiles, Podolyak said.

Russia used Onyx anti-ship missiles repeatedly in the past days to target cities in southern Ukraine.

“We don’t have enough modern anti-aircraft systems like Patriot, that are able to hit the latest generation Russian missiles like Oniks and Kinzhal – the deficit of these systems means we can’t cover all the parts of the country," Podolyak said.

At least 10 to 12 batteries are needed to protect the whole country, he said. According to the official, an increased supply of air defense capabilities makes sense both morally and economically for Ukraine's partners, as reconstruction after the destruction wrought by Russian missiles will be more expensive.

Russia launched a series of attacks against Ukraine's south in the past few days, primarily targeting ports, agricultural infrastructure, and grain stockpiles. President Volodymyr Zelensky said on July 19 that the country needs additional SAMP/T or Patriot air defense systems to protect its skies.

On July 26, the president revealed that the military received air defense reinforcements without specifying their type or origin.

Ukraine currently operates two Patriot systems, one provided by the U.S. and another by Germany. Berlin pledged further two Patriot launchers during the NATO summit in Vilnius earlier in July.

On June 19, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that a SAMP/T air defense system, previously pledged by France and Italy, is deployed and operational in Ukraine.

UNESCO mission to visit Odesa, assess damage from Russian attacks
A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) mission will visit Odesa in the coming days to make a preliminary assessment of the damage caused by Russian attacks, Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture announced on July 24.
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