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UK intelligence: Russia likely restarted intense missile strikes to degrade Ukraine's air defense
Russia has restarted its intense waves of long-range missile strikes deep inside Ukraine, targeting cities such as Kyiv, likely to degrade the Ukrainian air defense, the U.K. Defense Ministry said on May 21.
Since early May, Russian forces have once again ramped up their missile and drone attacks against Ukrainian cities far from the battlefield. Kyiv, which had enjoyed 51 days without air attacks till late April, was targeted for the 11th time this month on May 20. But the Ukrainian air defense, bolstered by Western air defense systems, has so far protected the city from significant damage.
In its May 21 intelligence bulletin, the U.K. Defense Ministry said that Russia is "innovating on earlier waves of deep strikes" by more frequently using surveillance drones, such as Russian-produced SuperCam UAVs, which are relatively cheap but have "sufficient range to fly over the cruise missiles’ targets."
"Russia has highly likely adopted this tactic in an attempt to obtain more timely battle damage assessment and improve its targeting cycle," the U.K. Defense Ministry said.
"The Russian military’s slow and inefficient targeting process has been a major weakness in its performance in Ukraine," it added. "However, slow surveillance UAVs are highly vulnerable to Ukrainian air defenses."
Meanwhile, Ukraine has shown an exceptional air defense capability in May, downing Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time.
One of the two Patriot systems suffered minor damage during the May 16 attack, but the Pentagon said Ukraine has already been repaired and is "fully back online and operational" by May 18.