Russia says it destroys Ukraine air defences donated by a European country
Russia claimed Monday that it destroyed several Ukrainian air-defence systems in what appeared to be a renewed push to gain air superiority and take out weapons Kyiv has described as crucial ahead of an expected broad new offensive in the east.
In one strike, Moscow said it hit four S-300 launchers near the central city of Dnipro that had been provided by a European country it did not name. Slovakia gave Ukraine just such a system last week but denied it had been destroyed. Russia previously reported two strikes on similar systems in other places.
Moscow’s initial invasion stalled on several fronts as it met with stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces, who prevented the Russians from taking the capital and other cities. The failure to win full control of Ukraine’s skies has hampered Moscow’s ability to provide air cover for troops on the ground, limiting their advances and likely exposing them to greater losses.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for more Western aid, saying his forces need heavier firepower to resist the coming onslaught and push Russian forces back. Echoing his remarks in an AP interview, Zelenskyy said Sunday that the coming week could be crucial and that Western support — or the lack thereof — may prove decisive.
“To be honest, whether we will be able to (survive) depends on this,” Zelenskyy said in a “60 Minutes” interview. “Unfortunately, I don’t have the confidence that we will be receiving everything we need.” In a video address to South Korean lawmakers on Monday, he specifically requested equipment that can shoot down Russian missiles.
But those armaments could increasingly come under attack as Russia looks to shift the balance in the 6-week-old war.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the military used cruise missiles to destroy the four launchers Sunday on the southern outskirts of Dnipro. He said the military also hit such systems in the Mykolaiv and Kharkiv regions.
The Russian claims could not be independently verified.
The Pentagon said it had seen no evidence to support Russia’s claims. A senior U.S. defense official said Russia did conduct an airstrike Sunday on the airport in Dnipro, destroying some equipment, but the official said the U.S. has seen no indication that an air-defense system was knocked out.
Lubica Janikova, spokeswoman for Slovakia’s prime minister, denied Monday that the S-300 system it sent Ukraine had been destroyed. She said any other claim is not true.
Ukraine has specifically asked for more S-300s in recent months, though it already had a number of the Soviet-built systems and other long-range air-defense systems. It also has received batches of portable, shoulder-fired Western anti-aircraft weapons like Stingers, which are efficient against low-flying aircraft.