ISW: Russia shows signs of local air superiority over Ukraine for first time

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Russia had “temporarily established limited and localized air superiority” during the final days of its activity in Abdiivka before the Ukrainian withdrawal.

This will probably be the first time this has happened in the war Ukrainea conflict characterized by Reciprocal air denialwhere lower flank air forces were able to operate out of terrain supported by ground troops.

The success of Ukraine’s relatively cheap and plentiful Stinger surface-to-air missiles and other ground-based air defense vehicles has so far been credited with preventing Russia from fully utilizing its air assets to conduct long-range strikes. So far, they have been limited to operating in a close air support role, remaining in territory where Russian ground forces can deter potential threats to high-cost air assets.

The ISW References that on February 17, 2024, Russian forces fired 60 KAB glide bombs at Ukrainian positions in Avdiivka in one day, citing a representative of a Ukrainian brigade operation near the site, and added that a Ukrainian soldier in the area said Russian forces had fired up to 500 skid bombs in recent days.

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From GlobalData

Russia’s effective deployment of glide bombs is widely recognized by Russian sources as a key factor in the breach of Ukrainian defenses at Avdiivka. In addition, some Russian military bloggers have claimed that Russia has achieved air superiority in the region.

Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, Commander of the Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces, reported that on February 14, the Russian military conducted 73 airstrikes along the Tavriisk front, from Avdiivka in western Zaporizhia Oblast, marking an unprecedented level of airstrikes. This increase in activity is part of an intensified tactical maneuver in Avdiivka by Russian forces.

ISW added that the lack of effective air defense systems, the depletion of air defense missile stocks and continued Russian missile and drone attacks on civilian areas in the rear are likely to force Ukraine to decide which frontline areas to protect with air defenses .

The US think tank, which has been downgraded for its continued daily reporting on the Ukraine war through open intelligence, went on to say that periodic instances of temporary, localized and limited air superiority by Russia could enable aggressive Russian advances along the front line and that a more widespread and sustained air superiority would allow them to conduct regular, large-scale air operations and to bomb heavily Ukrainian cities behind the front lines, causing serious damage.

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