Russia unleashed another large barrage of missiles and drones against Ukraine on Saturday, the fourth such attack since December 29, amid concerns that Moscow is trying to overwhelm Ukraine’s air defense.
The Russian assault was comprised of 40 attack weapons including cruise, aeroballistic, ballistic, aircraft, anti-aircraft guided missiles as well as strike UAVs, according to the Ukrainian Air Force.
Ukraine managed to take down eight missiles, its air force said. Additionally they stated that “over 20 launched air attack weapons did not reach their targets due to extensive electronic warfare countermeasures.”
The air raid warnings and defences were activated across the country. There were impacts in several regions, including the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine and Dnipro in the east.
In Chernihiv, missile fragments caused damage to unoccupied civilian residential buildings in the city, according to the police.
“The fragments of an enemy missile caused destruction in the private residential area of Chernihiv. Luckily, no people were injured”, the police wrote on Telegram.
The area was previously damaged which is why there were no civilian casualties, the local mayor said.
In Dnipro, there were incoming hits in the city, according to the head of Dnipropetrovsk region military administration Serhii Lysak.
“We are now establishing the extent of the damage caused by the strikes. However, people are always the priority. Luckily, everyone is safe”, Lysak wrote on Telegram.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense said the aerial barrage Saturday “achieved” its goal and struck Ukrainian military industrial complex facilities.
Saturday’s attacks are the fourth largest since Russia started large countrywide barrages on December 29.
Analysts say the recent onslaught of Russian missiles aims to overload Ukraine’s limited missile defense.
In a previous attack on January 7, Ukraine was only able to shoot down on 18 out of the 59 missiles launched.
The Russian army has also been using new tactics as part of its aerial campaign, such as painting its Iranian-made drones black, camouflaging them against the night sky.
Another tactic, one Ukrainian unit told CNN, is to move engine exhausts on some drones from the rear to the front, in an effort to confuse anti-air batteries using thermal sights.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a press conference with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday that the country is far from having comprehensive air cover.
“We lack Patriot systems, and we lack appropriate systems of different ranges. It is coming little by little. Something is on its way. We have agreed on something new. However, we still lack appropriate systems that fight against ballistic missiles especially, for instance,” Zelensky said.
Ukraine has been relying on mobile firing groups for air defenses to shoot down drones as anti-air missiles stocks run low.
“They are now the backbone unit that destroys enemy UAVs. We are counting on them so that we can save guided anti-aircraft missiles, which are quite scarce for us under such massive attacks,” Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said after a barrage of 29 Iranian Shahed UAVs were launched across the country last week.