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War: Dreaded Glide Bombs: Ukrainian Defenders Under Pressure

War: Dreaded Glide Bombs: Ukrainian Defenders Under Pressure

Ukraine’s military prospects continue to deteriorate. There is a lack of resources and soldiers – as well as air defense systems – to defend against new Russian tactics.

Scarce resources in defending against Russian air attacks are becoming an Achilles heel for Ukraine in its continued defense of the country. The Russian Air Force paves the way for the troops on the ground with so-called glide bombs – modified explosive devices that can find their target over long distances when dropped from aircraft.

The government in Kiev is calling on Western allies for help. Germany, which has been leading a so-called air defense capability coalition with France since February, will send a third Patriot air defense system and is seeking more support from allies with an initiative.

This is aimed at “activating and motivating” a larger number of states to deliver something at short notice, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense in Berlin. The Ukrainian partners reported a change in the threat situation.

“Russia is increasingly using industrially produced glide bombs that can be launched from a long distance from the Ukrainian border. And the defensive response is shifting accordingly,” he said. And: “That means Ukraine needs even more long-range weapons systems.”

Armed forces are under pressure at the front

After the abandonment of the industrial city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region in mid-February, the Ukrainian military leadership announced the establishment of a new defense line further west. The Russian advance was to be stopped about six to eight kilometers from Avdiivka along the villages of Berdychi, Semenivka, Orlivka and Tonenke. By mid-April there will be no more talk of this. Almost every day, Ukrainian military observers record small Russian gains in territory, not only west of Avdiivka.

Russian troops are advancing on several sectors of the front in the Donetsk region. Russian military observers put the territorial gains at more than 200 square kilometers since the end of February. In addition to the section west of Avdiivka, the fight for the small town of Chassiv Yar, west of Bakhmut, which was conquered by Russia in 2023, is considered a new focus of the fighting. The first Russian units are said to have already fought their way to the edge of the easternmost part of the city.

Within the coming weeks, it is expected that the Russian army will attempt to encircle the city in a pincer movement modeled on Bakhmut and Avdiivka. In further steps, Russian soldiers could possibly take a route to the large cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.

Lack of ammunition and air defense has consequences

The increasing lack of ammunition on the Ukrainian side is seen as the main reason for the slow but steady Russian advance. President Volodymyr Zelenskyj recently said in an interview with the US broadcaster PBS that the Ukrainians can only counter ten Russian grenades with one of their own. Military officials describe the situation as less dramatic. They’re talking more about a ratio of one to three to one to six.

But the Ukrainian side has not yet found a way to combat the feared Russian glide bombs, despite announcing the shooting down of Russian aircraft. From a distance of 60 kilometers from the front line, newer models reportedly even 90 kilometers away, winged bombs are dropped by Russian fighter planes far from Ukrainian air defenses and glide to their target.

According to Ukrainian counts, over 100 bombs of this type weighing 250, 500 or more kilograms are said to fall on Ukrainian positions every day with devastating effects. Despite the reports not being very precise, the detonations incapacitate soldiers in a larger area. Dismantled fortifications are completely destroyed.

Air defense systems are needed for infrastructure

An antidote would be more Patriot anti-aircraft systems, which could use their range to keep Russian aircraft at bay. But Kiev urgently needs the three existing systems in order to protect its own arms production and infrastructure from Russian missile attacks.

Due to the small number of long-range anti-aircraft systems that can also shoot down ballistic missiles, Russian missile strikes in the Ukrainian hinterland are repeatedly successful. Since mid-March, several thermal power plants and at least one hydroelectric power plant have been at least severely damaged. There are already warnings of major power cuts for the summer.

In addition to Russia’s superiority in weapons technology, a shortage of soldiers on the Ukrainian side is also becoming increasingly noticeable. According to reports, the actual strength of Ukrainian brigades is increasingly diverging from their target strength. Due to heavy losses, a large part of the teams are said to only have a good half of them. The military and observers expect greater setbacks for the Ukrainian defenders for the rest of the year. There is already talk of a retreat to the Dnipro River.

At the request of the government, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council in Kiev on Friday. It will be about addressing Ukraine’s urgent need for more air defense systems and artillery shells, said Stoltenberg. Ukrainian President Zelensky and the defense ministers of the member states were also scheduled to take part in the meeting.

Source: Stern

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