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Russia’s efforts to knock out Ukraine’s much-improved air defense systems aren’t working, UK intel says

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An explosion of a missile is seen in the sky over Ukraine’s capital Kyiv city during a Russian missile strike on May 18, 2023.A missile is seen exploding in the sky over Ukraine’s capital Kyiv during a Russian air strike on May 18, 2023.


  • Russia’s efforts to target Ukraine’s air defenses have had “little success,” the UK MOD said.
  • It previously said Russia was prioritizing these targets after Ukraine succeeded in downing its missiles.
  • Ukraine shot down several Kinzhal missiles this month, which Russia had bragged were unstoppable.

Russia is targeting Ukraine’s improved air defense systems as part of its attack on the country, but its efforts are having little effect, according to UK intelligence.

The UK Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update on Wednesday that Russia “has had little success in its likely aims of neutralizing Ukraine’s improved air defenses and destroying Ukrainian counter-attack forces.”

The MOD said earlier this month that a new priority for Russia was targeting air defenses, after it was embarrassed by Ukraine shooting down several Kinzhal missiles that it had previously bragged were unstoppable.

Ukraine achieved the first ever shoot-down of Russia’s advanced Kinzhal missile earlier this month, and then shot down several more in the following days, according to Ukrainian officials and Western allies.

In response, Russia’s defence ministry said that one of its missiles had destroyed a US-made Patriot air defense system in Kyiv, but Ukraine refuted the claim, and US officials said that while the Patriot appeared to be damaged, it was still functional.

US officials said the system was repaired in the same week.

In its latest update, the UK MOD described a slew of recent aerial attacks on Ukraine.

“During May 2023, Russia has launched 20 nights of one-way-attack uncrewed aerial vehicle and cruise missile attacks deep inside Ukraine,” it said.

Russia has recently escalated its drone and missile attacks on Ukrainian cities far from the front lines, which Ukraine says has resulted in civilian deaths.

But the UK MOD described Russia as otherwise focused on reacting to Ukraine’s moves rather than being proactive in its war.

“Since the start of May 2023, Russia has increasingly ceded the initiative in the conflict and is reacting to Ukrainian action rather than actively progressing towards its own war aims,” it said.

Both sides are now gearing up for Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive, after Russia’s own recent offensive to try to take more territory failed to achieve noticeable results.

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