Russia struggling to counter air attacks deep inside its own territory, says MoD

Russia struggling to counter air attacks deep inside its own territory, says MoD

Russia is struggling to counter air attacks taking place deep inside its own border, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Thursday, following the second assault on a major air base in three weeks.

In its latest analysis iof the Ukraine war, the MoD said it was “increasingly clear” that Moscow was struggling to contain Ukrainian air attacks despite it giving “high priority” to maintaining its ground based air defences.

Russia said on Monday that it had shot down a Ukrainian drone close to its Engels air base, where long-range strategic bombers that may have been used to target Ukrainian cities and infrastructure are based.

Ukraine has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack on the base in Saratov, which lies around 450 miles southeast of Moscow.

The MoD said: “Russia has long given a very high priority to maintaining advanced ground based air defences, but it is increasingly clear that it is struggling to counter air threats deep inside Russia.

A surveillance camera shows vehicles illuminated by flash of light from explosion in still image taken from a video released on December 26, 2022, in Engels (via REUTERS)
A surveillance camera shows vehicles illuminated by flash of light from explosion in still image taken from a video released on December 26, 2022, in Engels (via REUTERS)

“One challenge for Russia is probably the exceptional demand on its fleet of modern, medium-range air defence systems, such as SA-22 Pantsir, which would typically be expected to take a major role in countering UAVs. As well as providing point defence for strategic sites such as Engels, these systems are currently required in large number to protect field headquarters near the front line in Ukraine.”

It comes as Moscow fired more than 120 missiles into Ukraine on Thursday morning, targeting the capital Kyiv and other cities in a large-scale aerial bombardment.

Vladimir Putin has stepped up attacks on civilian areas as his invasion falters, targeting the country’s power, medical and other infrastructure.

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Ukraine's Air Force said the attacks had involved sea and air-based cruise missiles fired “from different directions” and followed an overnight assault by kamikaze drones.

The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, said 16 missiles were shot down over the capital.

He warned there could be power outages in the capital and urged citizens to stockpile water and charge their electronic devices.

Power cuts were also announced in the Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

Rescuers work at a site of a residential house damaged during a Russian missile strike in Kyiv on Thursday (REUTERS)
Rescuers work at a site of a residential house damaged during a Russian missile strike in Kyiv on Thursday (REUTERS)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video address, urged Ukrainians to hug loved ones, tell friends they appreciate them, support colleagues, thank their parents and rejoice with their children more often.

"We have not lost our humanity, although we have endured terrible months," he said. “And we will not lose it, although there is a difficult year ahead.”

Moscow has rejected a Ukrainian peace plan, insisting that Kyiv must accept Russia’s annexation of four regions.