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With mainly Western air defense systems, Ukraine is doing what it can to protect its citizens from Russian attacks from the air. But the country is big and Russia knows how to find new holes in the defense time and time again.

After almost a year and a half of war and Western military aid worth tens of billions of euros, Ukraine has the best air defense in its history. Equipped with the most modern systems, built up in different layers, against aircraft, cruise missiles, drones and ballistic missiles. And yet the country is still far from being able to protect its population from the relentless Russian airstrikes.

Just a Tuesday morning in August: Ukrainian air defenses intercepted sixteen Russian missiles in the western regions of Lviv and Volyn in the early hours of the day. The bad news for the residents of this region near the Polish border was what the Ukrainian air force failed to intercept: twelve missiles – with tragic consequences for the residents of the dozens of affected buildings.

The bloody result stands in stark contrast to the “score” that Ukrainian air defenses managed to achieve in recent months in Russian missile and drone attacks on the capital Kyiv, where, for understandable reasons, the bulk of Ukrainian air defenses are concentrated. There, the authorities now manage to take down almost all Russian projectiles that are fired at the city. This is done from aircraft in Russian airspace, from occupied Crimea or from warships on the Black Sea or even the Caspian Sea, such as the Kalibr cruise missile.

Patriot batteries.

Kyiv’s good protection is partly due to the arrival of two Patriot batteries in April of this year, from Germany and the United States. Although the Ukrainian armed forces do not make any statements about where the most advanced air defense system is located, it is believed that the Patriots are in the vicinity of Kyiv, protecting the government center and its approximately three million inhabitants. The Patriots prove to be very effective, but the system is very expensive and extremely complex, and therefore scarce. Only at the end of next year will the American manufacturer Raytheon Ukraine deliver five more Patriot systems.

Without additional protection against Russian airstrikes, other parts of the country remain extremely vulnerable, as demonstrated last month in Odesa, where attacks were carried out for days, resulting in extensive material and immaterial damage.

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