May 23, 2024

KYIV, Ukraine — The success of Israel and its allies in largely thwarting a massive Iranian missile and drone attack shows what Ukraine could achieve against Russian aerial barrages if it had more support from its partners, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday.

A recent Russian aerial campaign targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and other targets has wrought extensive damage, and Ukrainian officials have pleaded with the country’s Western allies to provide more air defense systems as the war stretches into its third year.

Israel’s defense system, with assistance from the U.S. and Britain — countries that are also supporting Ukraine’s war effort — is credited with preventing serious damage or casualties in Sunday’s attack by Iran using more than 300 drones and missiles.

Kuleba, speaking to reporters in Kyiv, urged Ukraine’s allies to “give us what we need and we will do the rest of the job.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made the same point late Sunday, referring to the Iranian attack. “The whole world sees what real defense is. It sees that it is feasible,” he wrote on Telegram.

Russia last week fired nearly 130 exploding drones, more than 80 Russian missiles and nearly 700 guided aerial bombs at Ukraine, Zelenskyy said Sunday on the social platform X. He has pleaded with allies to send more Patriot systems.

However, the Institute for the Study of War noted there are key differences between the challenges faced by Israel and by Ukraine.

“Russian forces launch drones and missiles from throughout occupied Ukraine and in close proximity to Ukraine from within Russia, affording Ukrainian air defenders a fraction of the time that Israel and its allies leveraged to successfully blunt the mass Iranian missile and drone strike,” the Washington think tank said in an assessment late Sunday.

The scale and improved accuracy of recent Russian attacks have unnerved Ukraine’s defenders. They say Kremlin forces now have better intelligence and fresh tactics in their campaign to destroy Ukraine’s power grid and crush its economy. Moscow has also apparently learned how to exploit gaps in air defenses across the huge country.

That development has added to Ukraine’s problems, as the Kremlin’s forces seize the battlefield advantage. At the same time, Ukraine is struggling with shortages of ammunition and troops. Ukraine’s military chief on Saturday warned that the battlefield situation in the industrial east has recently significantly worsened.

A crucial hurdle to receiving more air defense supplies is the hold-up in Washington of House approval for a U.S. aid package that includes roughly $60 billion for Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to move the package forward this week.

“The exhaustion of U.S.-provided air defenses resulting from delays in the resumption of U.S. military assistance to Ukraine combined with improvements in Russian strike tactics have led to increasing effectiveness of the Russian strike campaign in Ukraine,” the Institute for the Study of War said.

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