Ukraine Air Defenses: What Do They Need? How Far Do They Go? How Russian Air Defense Systems are Deployed in a Blitz?
Ukrainian air defense battalions have become innovative: One video from Monday, referenced by Zelensky, showed a soldier using a shoulder-held missile to bring down a Russian projectile, purportedly a cruise missile.
Until more arrive, there is the risk – all too familiar to the government and people of Ukraine – that the Russian mix of missiles will wreak much greater havoc among the civilian population, especially if the Russians persist with the tactic of using swarms of missiles, inundating air defenses.
The great unknown is just how far such a blitz is depleting Russian inventories – and whether increasingly they will resort to stocks of older, less accurate but equally powerful missiles.
The inventory was dispatched this week. The Soviet Union used to be known as an anti-ship weapon but recently it’s been using older and less precise missiles. They are designed to take out aircraft carriers. A KH-22 was responsible for the dozens of casualties at a shopping mall in Kremenchuk in June.
The Russians have adapted the S-300 as an offensive missile, with some effect. They are extremely fast, and their speed makes it hard to intercept them. But they are hardly accurate.
More than 4 million people were without electricity because of attacks onUkraine’s infrastructure, and the Ukrainian President accused Russia of energy terrorism.
He said that this was the first time in the war that Russia has targeted energy infrastructure.
The senior Defense Department official said that work was continuing on Improving Ukrainian air defenses, including finding Soviet-era capabilities to make sure countries were ready and could donate them.
It’s also uneconomical to waste advanced systems on taking out cheap drones. But there may be other answers for the hundreds of attack drones Russia is now deploying. Zelensky said that Russia ordered 2,400 Shahed-136 drones from Iran.
They are hunted. Whether it’s airborne or not. The air force and army pilots are some of the most vulnerable victims of Russia’s missiles. They are on the Kremlin’s list.
Ukraine’s wish-list – circulated at Wednesday’s meeting – included missiles for their existing systems and a “transition to Western-origin layered air defense system” as well as “early warning capabilities.”
Speaking after the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting, he said such a system would not “control all the airspace over Ukraine, but they are designed to control priority targets that Ukraine needs to protect. What you’re looking at really is short-range low-altitude systems and then medium-range medium altitude and then long-range and high altitude systems, and it’s a mix of all of these.”
Western systems are beginning to trickle in. The first unit of the NASAM is expected soon, along with the arrival of the first IRIS-T from Germany, which the Ukrainian Minister said had started a new era of air defense.
These are not off the shelf. The IRIS-T had to be made in Ukraine. Western governments have limited inventories of such systems. The country is being attacked by missiles from three directions.
SpaceX and the Pentagon: Dealing with Ukraine’s Air Defense Systems, a Report on Musk, Olha, and Vasiliii Zaluzhnyi
Ukraine’s senior military commander, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, tweeted Tuesday his thanks to Poland as “brothers in arms” for training an air defense battalion that had destroyed nine of 11 Shaheeds.
He said Poland had given Ukraine “systems” to help destroy the drones. Reports last month said that the Polish government had bought Israeli equipment and was transferring it to Ukraine, despite Israel not selling advanced defensive technology to Kyiv.
From the first month of Russia’s full-scale invasion, SpaceX’s Starlink service helped keep Ukraine online, even as the country’s communication infrastructure was being knocked offline. Olha is a deputy PM of Ukraine and said that Starlink has been the signal of life for the country. “Our government has been able to be operational because I had Starlink over my head.”
However, SpaceX and the Pentagon had continued discussions about a possible deal for military units, according to people familiar with the conversations. Shotwell said at least some of the conversations had ended.
“SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely and send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100X greater than typical households. One post on Musk’s verified account said this was unreasonable.
Two sources briefed on the discussions between SpaceX and the Pentagon told CNN that as of Friday, before Musk’s apparent about face, the Pentagon had in fact agreed to the request from SpaceX to pay for ongoing service for Ukraine’s government and the new request from Ukraine’s commanding general.
Last October, Musk angered Ukrainians, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, for proposing a peace plan on Twitter that argued Ukraine just give up efforts to reclaim Crimea and cede control of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
One Ukrainian official, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, appeared to extend an olive branch in a tweet posted Friday, writing, “Let’s be honest. elonmusk helped us survive the most critical moments of war.
Musk sometimes goes on odd hobbies, like saying that one of his companies has begun selling its own line of fragrances. It is not clear if the future plans for service in Ukraine have been established by the company.
The status of the Starlink project and the proposal for joint cooperation for Ukraine and the Kremlin – a critical review by the U.S
The issue of funding for Starlink has been discussed in meetings and is being considered by the senior U.S. officials. There have been no decisions.
Musk said that the funding request the company had made to the Pentagon to start picking up the bill for satellite internet services for Ukraine has been withdrawn.
The letter that was sent to the Pentagon on September 8 stated that the company had paid for 70% of the internet service in Ukranian, but that only 15% of the terminals had been funded. The rest was paid for by governments like the US, UK and Poland as well as private initiatives.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said Saturday that “Ukraine’s internet connectivity is too important to be left in the hands of one private individual.”
Among his many moves, a recent proposal for peace for Ukraine stood out. Musk asked his 100 million followers to vote on a plan that looked like it was drafted in the Kremlin, complete with distorted history of Crimea – the Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in 2014.
On Monday he continued to push his proposal, saying: “If Russia is faced with the choice of losing Crimea or using battlefield nukes, they will choose the latter.”
Is Musk the master of the world? An analysis of Musk’s views on Putin from his time in Russia as a KGB agent
Editor’s Note: Frida Ghitis, (@fridaghitis) a former CNN producer and correspondent, is a world affairs columnist. She writes for The Washington Post, CNN, and World Politics Review. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. CNN has more opinions on it.
Musk’s restless mind could use a moment to focus on what it is that he believes. He doesn’t seem sure if he wants to be one of the good guys. Maybe that’s what happens when you’re the mighty ruler of your business empire and seem to think that makes you one of the masters of the universe.
Even though he has made a lot of money, nothing in his accomplishments suggests that he has anything to do with the world’s most dangerous conflicts. But that hasn’t stopped him. Musk has been expounding on the Russia-Ukraine war and on Taiwan’s tensions with Beijing with the self-confidence of someone who knows what he’s talking about.
People who need a lot of attention are vulnerable. Musk, who is the world’s richest person, is being manipulated by a master.
It suggested that Ukraine (and one assumes the world) accept Russian sovereignty over Crimea, that another referendum be held in Russia-annexed Ukrainian lands, this time under UN supervision (and despite Russian military occupation!), among other ideas.
There was at least one twist to the veryscrutinized tweet. Ian Bremmer, a political scientist from the Eurasia Group, said that Musk told him he had talked to Putin.
But the most telling analysis of the relationship between Musk and Putin – those two paragons of excessive self-confidence – came from Fiona Hill, once the top Russia hand in the US National Security Council.
She believes that Putin is good for the egos of big men, so they can play a role. But in reality, they’re just direct transmitters of messages from Vladimir Putin.”
Putin is trained in how to read and manipulate people from his time as a KGB agent. Some images of Putin plying his craft with world leaders – for instance, bringing his black Labrador to a meeting with the reportedly fearful of dogs then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in 2016 – are indelible.
What It Takes for Musk: A Trip to Beijing and Loses the Happiness of a For-Profit Business: The Case of the Doge Coin
What’s in it for Musk? The man who put thousands of people in electric cars, who turned space flight into a for-profit business is trying out a different car. This is an ego trip.
In an interview with the Financial Times, he unveiled his proposal for resolving hostilities between Beijing and Taipei. Musk suggested creating “a special administrative zone for Taiwan,” musing that “they could have an arrangement that’s more lenient than Hong Kong.” China, you’ll remember, promised “one country, two systems” for Hong Kong, until it broke its word and crushed Hong Kong’s freedom.
As Russia did, China heaped praise on the billionaire and gave him a shout out. Taiwan sells many products, but its freedom and democracy are not for sale, according to the envoy in Washington.
Musk’s impulsiveness and U-turns are familiar. Just as he decided to buy Twitter, then changed his mind, and then changed it again, he swerved on Starlink.
A CNN report triggered a backlash. Two days later, Musk backtracked, with the dismissive attitude of someone who makes decisions on the fly. “What the hell…we’ll just keep funding it for free,” he tweeted.
Musk posed as a humanitarian and said, “even so, we should still do good deeds.”
He likes to think big and even though he seems to be a mischievous teenager, he likes to take himself seriously. Some of his business ideas and their execution deserve the highest praise.
But he also likes to taunt, occasionally with disastrous consequences. He is being sued for promoting the all but worthless doge coin as part of a pyramid scheme. (Musk says he still supports it.) The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating him over Twitter, and previously sanctioned him over other market-manipulating tweets. Musk and the SEC settled on fraud charges, agreeing on penalties.
He claimed he wanted to buy Twitter and put former President Donald Trump back on the platform because he’s a “free speech absolutist.” He doesn’t have a serious understanding of the issues that have to be dealt with by a major platform when it comes to free speech in social media.
What the Starlink Outages Mean for the Defense and Space Sector in Ukraine and their Implications for the War on the Security of the State of Ukraine
Since then, Starlink has evolved into a vital tool for the Ukrainian military to coordinate across thousands of kilometers of combat theater. In a recent interview, Michael Kofman admitted that he was a little naive about the Russian military early on in the war, but now thinks it has grown considerably.
But now, with outages plaguing the system and SpaceX’s terminally online CEO, Elon Musk, suggesting that his support for Ukraine’s position has waned, it might be time to Elon-proof this vital tool against Twitter-driven whims—and to think seriously about bringing more of the defense and space industries back into the direct purview of government. Such vital infrastructure needs to be nationalized rather than used as a PR football for attention-hungry CEOs.
Understanding what’s happened over the past few weeks requires a bit of a detailed timeline—though it’s worth noting that the dates on which events were reported are not necessarily when they happened.
Reports said that the Starlink signals were not available past the front line as Ukrainian troops tried to advance, which would be an impediment to their attempts to liberate territory from the Russians. Those reports of the outages fueled accusations that Musk was kowtowing to Russia.
Anticipation is mounting for a possible battle for Kherson, a Russian-occupied city in southern Ukraine. Kremlin-installed officials have been evacuating civilians in preparation for a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.
And Ukraine will be watching America’s midterm election results this week, especially after some Republicans warned that the party could limit funding for Ukraine if it wins control of the House of Representatives, as forecast.
NPR’s State of Ukraine: The U.N. Security Assistance Plan for Ukraine During the November 2 U.S.-Russia Abrelation
On Tuesday the Turkish President will have a meeting with the Prime Minister of Sweden. Erdogan insists Sweden must meet certain conditions before it can join NATO.
On Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly will discuss a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency and Ukrainians are expected to be on the agenda.
On November 2, Russia rejoined a U.N.-brokered deal to safely export grain and other agricultural goods from Ukraine. The deal was suspended a few days prior after Moscow claimed that Ukraine launched a drone attack on its ships.
$400 million in security aid was announced on Nov. 4, which also included 45 refurbished T72 tanks, 1,100 Phoenix Ghost drones and other vehicles.
You can read past recaps here. You can find more of NPR’s coverage here. Listen to NPR’s State of Ukraine for updates throughout the day.
Nonetheless, he said, the strikes, using Iranian drones, had left many in the dark. The Odesa region is very difficult, according to Mr. Zelensky, who stated that only the most critical infrastructure remained operational. Although repair crews were not stopping, it would take days to restore power to civilians.
In his nightly address on Saturday, Mr. Zelensky said Ukraine had shot down 10 of the 15 drones that Russian forces used. It was not immediately possible to verify his tally.
The repeated assaults on the plants and equipment that Ukrainians rely on for heat and light have drawn condemnation from world leaders, and thrust Ukraine into a grim cycle in which crews hurry to restore power only to have it knocked out again.
Mr. Zelensky said in his remarks Saturday night that there are still power cuts in several parts of the country. Some are what he classified as “emergency” outages resulting from attacks. Others are what he termed the “stabilization” of the power grid.
The power system is not a normal state, so he urged people to reduce their power use to help the grid.
“It must be understood: Even if there are no heavy missile strikes, this does not mean that there are no problems,” he continued. In different regions of the country, there is shelling and missile attacks almost every day. Energy facilities are hit almost every day.”
The latest on Ukraine a week before Christmas: look ahead at Russian oil revenue measures and Russia’s war-dec 12 after Belgium Griner’s release
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has threatened to ban the Russian Orthodox Church inUkraine if his church is found to be linked to Moscow, and many are waiting to see if he follows through.
French President Emmanuel Macron hosts European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store for a working dinner Monday in Paris.
In France, on Tuesday, there will be a conference in support of Ukrainians with a video address by the president of that country.
After nearly 10 months in Russian custody, US basketball starBrittney Griner was free on December 8. Her release came in exchange for the U.S. handing over convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. In the US, Griner is back with her husband. Bout returned to Russia, and is said to be part of an ultranationalist party.
The measures targeting Russian oil revenue went into effect on December 5. They include a price cap and a European Union embargo on most Russian oil imports and a Russian oil price cap.
The Russian Front in the Zaporizhzhia Region: Using Starlink with UAVs as a Counterattack on Russian Truncation Forces
Ukraine hit targets in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, including a church reported to be used as a Russian military base. Officials said Ukrainian forces used long-range artillery to reach targets in the city in southeastern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region.
Russian forces began their next major offensive in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, attacking Ukrainian defensive lines and making marginal advances, according to the Institute for the Study of War. The Atlantic Council’s analysts said that the Russian forces were pushing to encircle Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine.
President Zelenskyy had a phone call with President Biden on Dec. 11, as well as the leaders of France and Turkey, in an apparent stepping up of diplomacy over the 9 1/2-month-long Russian invasion.
The president of the company says that it has taken steps to stop the Ukrainians from using the Starlink technology with their drones in their fight against Russia.
There are things we can do to make it harder for them to do that, according to Gwynne Shotwell. “There are things that we can do, and have done.”
Shotwell said at the space conference that it was never intended to be weaponized. Ukrainians have used it in ways that weren’t part of the agreement.
“I was the one that asked the Pentagon to fund, this was not an Elon thing,” Shotwell said on Wednesday. We stopped talking to the Pentagon about their existing capability. They are not paying.
MH17: The Airborne Attack Helicopter of a Rebellious Bose-Einstein Condensation in Ukraine
She said that they didn’t even think about it. Do you think that it could be used that way? We did not think about it. I didn’t think about it. I don’t know if we have the Starlink team. We have learned a lot of things quickly.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise Europe tour, meeting leaders in London, Paris and Brussels, and reiterating his call for allies to send fighter jets to Ukraine.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova attended President Biden’s State of the Union speech, for the second year in a row, but the war in Ukraine received far less attention in the address this time.
There’s “strong indication” Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the go-ahead to supply anti-aircraft weapons to separatists in Ukraine, according to the international team investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014.
The horizon disappears for a moment as the nose of the helicopter rears. The sound of rockets trailing brown smoke makes a faint thump. The aircraft is pushed on its side by an outside force.
Russian soldiers are torn apart and burned in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, as the ground erupts when the rockets find their target. The effect of the rockets will be passed on to the pilots later. Their task now is to stay alive.
We are surprised that we are here. The deputy commander of the Sikorsky brigade says his name and location are military secrets but that they will never stop.
Serhiy and Hennady are both middle aged pilots with more than two decades of flying behind them. They flew for the UN on many missions in the early 2000s, which included Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The experience, they say, had been invaluable. It kept their hours up and gave them experience of flying low and in difficult circumstances – like the ongoing civil war in the DRC.
The Mi-8s in this flight were conceived as transport helicopters in the 1960s, but are now mounted with rockets. Unlike modern, or even Soviet-era attack helicopters, they’ve got no armor to protect the pilots.
After taking off on his damaged blades, he was very close to the front line and couldn’t stay on the ground. He went to a back location where he could swap the damaged equipment with three other choppers.
Zelensky’s request for new military aircraft: Ukraine’s Sea King helicopter, Russia’s Intl-cmd
NATO and other allies have been begged for jets and other aircraft by President Zelensky. The response so far has been close to nil.
The United Kingdom has offered to provide Ukraine with a number of Sea King aircraft that have been retired from the military. Portugal gave six Russian-made ор-3211VS, none of which were airworthy, while the defense minister of Ukraine said his country would have to fix itself.
A young fliers who has a co-pilot who is more experienced has a total of more than 100 combat missions this year. “All we have are skillful pilots who are flying old helicopters,” he says. “If we had new machines, we would be able to fulfill tasks much better. We would support the infantry better in combat, and there would be fewer casualties. Because the system that protects the helicopter is much better in Western models of helicopters.”
When he discovered Ukrainian drones were running after him: defending the pilots against Russians with a radar system that detects them behind hills
He has a team of people who hide fuel and stuff near the front line. Support crews tuck themselves out of sight. Perimeter security exists but it’s invisible.
Many of the pilots’ friends have died in the war. Their main weapon is better motivation than their Russian enemies. They want Western aircraft in order to have their lives depend on them.
But he had to wait 24 hours to learn this from Ukrainian drone operators who’d called him in to give him the news. He was racing away when his rockets hit the ground.
The Russians can find us and hit us from a distance. Sometimes we know they are shooting at us and can land behind hills, because we have radar that can track them.
The Lives of a Single Black Hole in Ukraine: The Aftermath of the First World War and the State of the Power Grid
The pain of losing someone is raw. “In December, a very close friend of mine died,” says Serhiy. A lot of my friends have already died. It is very painful, I am very upset… I cannot move on…”
During the early days of the war, Shashenok documented her life on social media, and went to Europe to seek refuge. In October, Shashenok posted a video that said she would show her followers how people live without electricity in Ukraine. More than 3 million people watched the tour of her darkened city, all set to George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.”
Russia has worked feverishly to prevent Shashenok and other Ukrainians from broadcasting in the world since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago tomorrow. Shashenok was still streaming to the world despite the power being out. The enormous work that has gone on behind the scenes to make that possible is a story of resiliency, planning, and batteries.
“One thing that was demonstrated by the war is how important communication is for us,” Yurii Shchyhol, the head of Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection, said in a media briefing last month. “When it’s up and running, everyone thinks that everything is normal—and this is how things should be. We can’t get in contact with our relatives when communication goes quiet.
Stefanishyna: Using SpaceX to Plan for Future Future Astrophysics and the Space Telescope of the Large Hadron Collider
“Given this huge range of instability in the position of the SpaceX CEO—from the willingness and then unwillingness to continue financial support—we’re doing contingency planning for ourselves,” Stefanishyna said.