Ukrainian air defense intercepts a Shahed drone mid-air in Kyiv on May 30, 2023.

Russia is exploiting shortages in Ukraine’s air defenses with airstrikes, the White House said.It’s forcing Ukraine to use what it has left, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said.The Russians “know they are not being replaced right now,” he said.

Russia is exploiting shortages in Ukraine’s air defenses to launch drones and missiles, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

And he said it could be part of a tactic to use up the air defenses that Ukraine has left.

“That’s why they keep flying drones and missiles — to force the Ukrainians to use air defense capabilities that they know are not being replaced right now,” Kirby said.

Ukraine has been struggling to intercept Russian airstrikes amid a lack of air defense capabilities.

While Ukraine’s allies have given it advanced weaponry, including Patriot missile systems, further aid is now being held up.

House Speaker Mike Johnson refused to bring up aid to Ukraine on the House floor on Tuesday, after months of negotiations to tie money for Ukraine and Israel to tighter enforcement measures on the US-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, after months of internal fighting, the EU agreed last week on a $54 billion support package for Ukraine, but the funds only cover pensions, state salaries, and payments to those displaced by the war.

At the same time, Russia has been launching new airstrikes — with varying degrees of success.

On Wednesday, Russia launched its second-largest combined drone and missile strike of the year, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said.

The strike involved 20 Shahed drones, more than three dozen cruise and ballistic missiles, and five S-300 surface-to-air missiles, it said, citing figures from the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

Ukrainian air defenses intercepted 44 of 64 targets, per the report.

The ISW, among others, has warned of the threat of dwindling Western aid to Ukraine.

In November it said Western-provided air-defense systems had thus far kept Ukraine’s skies safe, and that a lack of them would “almost certainly” prompt Russia to begin air raids with “catastrophic” consequences.

The shortage of air defenses is causing Ukrainian commanders to make “tough” decisions all along the front, Kirby said, per a transcript of the White House press briefing.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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