Russia prepares ‘air combat’ as Ukraine’s ground war continues | War news of Russia and Ukraine

Russia may be planning to launch heavy air strikes on Ukraine to break the stalemate on the battlefield as NATO intelligence shows Moscow is massing fighter jets and helicopters near the border.

The deployment of the aircraft would mean it is critical to get air defense systems into Ukraine as quickly as possible as Russia steps up its offensive with the anniversary of the invasion looming, NATO officials said on Tuesday.

US Defense Chief Lloyd Austin, speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels where officials met, noted that Ukraine’s air defenses at the moment “are not enough and we will continue to push until we get more because that threat is out there.”

“We know that Russia has significant aircraft … and a lot of capabilities,” Auston said. “We want to make sure they have the ability to protect themselves in the event that Russia decides to bring its air force into the fray.”

NATO intelligence reports say Russia is “massing fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft near the border with Ukraine,” the Financial Times quoted two military officials as saying.

“The Russian ground forces are pretty depleted so that’s the best indication that they’re going to turn this into a dogfight,” one told the Times. “If the Ukrainians want to survive, they need to have as much air defense capability and as much ammunition as possible… as much as possible.”

Asked if Ukraine’s allies had discussed sending fighter jets to help the country in its war effort, Austin said: “I don’t have anything to announce today.”

“Key moment”

Western defense leaders met to discuss new weapons for Kiev and maintaining existing stockpiles – including artillery shells whose production can hardly keep up with the war.

Ukraine renewed its appeal for fighter jets to help thwart Moscow’s invasion as senior defense officials said the war with Russia was approaching a critical stage.

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, when asked what kind of military assistance his country is now seeking, showed journalists a picture of a fighter plane.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pushed hard for fighter jets last week when he visited London, Paris and Brussels on his second trip abroad since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022. His request came days after Western allies promised Kiev to provide battle tanks.

The possibility of sending fighter jets to Ukraine was still under discussion. The United States has said no to sending fighter jets to Ukraine, but the United Kingdom is evaluating the possibility, and on Tuesday Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said securing the planes “must be part of the consideration.”

Ollongren said that Kiev has requested American-made F-16 planes from the Netherlands.

“We have to discuss this with our partners, also with the United States, and we have to think about the feasibility,” she said. “It’s something that will take time and is best done behind closed doors.”

Slovakia has said it is willing to discuss sending Soviet MIG-29 jets to help compensate for losses to the Ukrainian air force.

But German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the procurement of munitions and air defense systems was “much more important at the moment than the fighter jets debate”.

Pistorius told reporters that pilots are being trained for the new aircraft and that “just training to fly them takes several months, let alone teaching the skills required to deploy the weapons systems”.


Offensives and counterattacks

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said NATO had continued to express its hostility towards Russia and was getting more involved in the war in Ukraine.

“NATO is an organization that is hostile towards us and proves that hostility every day,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “She is trying to do everything possible to show her involvement in the conflict over Ukraine as clearly as possible.”

Moscow has said that arms deliveries to Ukraine by NATO countries are prolonging the conflict and increasing the possibility of further escalation.

On the battlefield, the fighting continued to rage. Russian forces have been applying pressure in eastern Ukraine while strengthening their defense lines in the south. The war has been largely static during the winter months, although both sides are expected to step up their attacks when the weather improves.

Austin said he expects Ukraine to launch an offensive against Russia in the coming months.

“Ukraine wants to create momentum… We expect to see them launch an offensive sometime in the spring,” he told reporters.

Russia is introducing a number of new soldiers to the battlefield, but many are poorly trained and equipped, Auston added.

“Ukraine is in urgent need of assistance at this crucial moment in the course of the war. The Kremlin is still betting that it can wait for us, but a year later we are as united as ever,” he said.

A top US general, Mark Milley, slammed the leadership in Moscow, saying it had already “lost”.

“Russia is now a global pariah and the world continues to be inspired by Ukrainian courage and resilience. In short, Russia lost. They lost strategically, operationally and tactically,” Milley said.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *