From Jamie Peipon: There has been a great deal of activity today that has, in turn, launched a great deal of speculation. First, as it often does on Mondays, russia launched a huge salvo of missiles into Ukraine. Air raid sirens were going off across the whole country. At least 70 missiles of different varieties were fired into Ukraine, but 60 or so of them were brought down by Ukrainian anti-air defenses. In the picture, you can see the dramatic moment that a russian missile was shot down by a Ukrainian self-propelled anti-aircraft Gepard. It is impossible to calculate how many lives that projectile would have taken, or how many homes would be without power, water, and heat if what you are seeing as a fireball had reached its target.
Early this morning, explosions were seen and heard at two russian airfields. Those airfields are about 700 km (over 400 miles) away from Ukraine. They are two of the homebases for russia’s fleet of strategic bombers which are often launching attacks on Ukraine. Interestingly, unlike the aftermath of what seem to be other successful long-range attacks, both Ukrainian and russian sources are giving Ukraine credit for the attack. We still don’t know what exactly it was that was able to reach these bases. Of course, russia is downplaying their success, saying that there are only 2 or 3 bombers that were damaged. However, due to sanctions, russia will not be able to quickly restore these planes. Based on the pictures I’ve seen, the damage to the planes cannot possible just be “buffed out.”
These attacks, however, will have an even more profound effect on the war than the loss of those planes. There are lots of questions that come up. How on earth did something make it through russia’s purported air defenses? According to their doctrine, there should be at least three rings of air defense protecting the country in addition to the kind of special defenses that would be protecting valuable air assets at an airfield. I’ve written previously about how russia has been firing many of their s300 anti-air rockets into Ukraine targeting things on the ground. Now, they’ll have to choose either to leave things deeper in the country exposed, to move some of their anti-air missiles away from the front lines, or to reposition their planes to bases even further from the front lines. A combination of those things is also possible. It is always interesting to see how these types of situations cause the reshaping of the battlefield.
Ukraine’s air defenses are not just intercepting missiles. A crew in eastern Ukraine brought down yet another Ka-52 helicopter yesterday. According to russian sources, the crew on board had been one of the most experienced in russia and each of its members had apparently earned major military accolades. The numbers of helicopters lost is significant, but it takes much longer to replace a good crew. As always, people are the difference makers and russia is losing significant numbers every day.
“Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.