Russia launched several waves of missile and drone strikes on Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities on Wednesday. The strikes killed five people and wounded more than 30, with extensive damage to buildings and energy infrastructure, leading to electricity outages across parts of Ukraine’s capital.
“Another massive attack against our state. Six regions were struck by the enemy. All our services are now working to cope with the consequences of this terror,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.
Ukrainian air defenses shot down 44 missiles and drones out of the 64 launched by Russia, the country’s armed forces reported.
Lack of US aid puts Ukraine’s air defenses at risk
Since 2022, Ukraine has succeeded in building up patchwork air defenses, made up of cutting-edge U.S. Patriot batteries, Soviet-era systems, and the so-called FrankenSAM, an improvised air-defense system that has been jury-rigged out of retired weapons. Donations of weapons from countries — as well as Ukraine’s extensive pre-war stock — has boosted its missile defenses to an estimated 564 land-based systems, The Wall Street Journal reported. By comparison, the rest of Europe has roughly 1,600 of those combined.
But U.S. officials have warned that Washington will soon be unable to keep Ukraine’s air defenses supplied with Patriot interceptor missiles, which can cost as much as $4 million a piece. The Patriot batteries are Ukraine’s most advanced air defense system, and the only one capable of intercepting Russia’s ballistic missiles. Although U.S. aid faces an uncertain future in Congress, NATO announced last month that it would help a group of European countries purchase Patriot missiles for Ukraine.
Ukraine starts to target Russian energy infrastructure
This winter, Ukraine began targeting Russia’s energy sector, launching strikes on oil and gas processing facilities in an effort to disrupt operations and hurt oil exports. “Ukrainian commanders believe their new long-range drone strike campaign can eventually create major disruption to the Russian economy,” Mykola Bielieskov of the National Institute for Strategic Studies in Kyiv wrote. The strikes may also force Russia to choose between placing air defense systems at the front line, or closer to key infrastructure, Bielieskov added.
Lack of US aid is helping Russia’s chances to seize a Ukrainian town
On the frontlines, Russia has made steady progress around the town of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region. Taking the city would be Russia’s first significant battlefield success since capturing Bakhmut in May 2023. Moscow has lost hundreds of vehicles and a significant number of troops in the battle for Avdiivka, but Russian troops have started to enter the city after months of grinding combat. The situation has become “critical,” one Ukrainian official said. Russia’s progress is “the direct result of acute ammunition shortage — caused by the U.S. Congress withholding further military aid to Ukraine,” The Wall Street Journal’s chief foreign affairs correspondent Yaroslav Trofimov wrote on X.