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Russia says destroyed Ukraine Airbases, Air Defences: Reports

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A Russian Su-34 conducting an airstrike.

RUSSIA, UKRAINE: Russia’s Defence Ministry said Thursday it had neutralised Ukrainian military airbases and its air defence systems, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military offensive against his country’s neighbour.

“Military infrastructure at Ukrainian army air bases has been rendered out of action,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement carried by news agencies, which added that Kyiv’s air defence systems were “eliminated”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military operation in Ukraine on Thursday with explosions heard across the country and its foreign minister warning a “full-scale invasion” was underway.

Explosions were heard in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and several other cities, according to Agency reports. Ukrainian border guards reported being under attack along the Russian and Belarusian frontiers.

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Facebook post that Russia was attacking his country’s “military infrastructure”, but urged citizens not to panic and vowed victory. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military claimed on Thursday to have downed five Russian planes and a helicopter in the east of the country near a rebel-held enclave.

“According to the Joint Forces Command on Thursday, in the area of the Joint Forces operation, five planes and a helicopter of the aggressors were shot down,” the army general staff said. Ukraine’s Armed Forces are heavily outnumbered and outgunned by Russia’s, but as Russia begins what may be a large-scale invasion, military experts say they would be capable of mounting significant resistance and inflicting heavy casualties.

Ukraine’s army is also better trained and equipped than in 2014, when Russia captured the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine without a fight, and is widely seen as highly motivated to defend the country’s heartland. In terms of manpower and weapons, the arithmetic looks grim for Ukraine.

Russia’s Army has about 280,000 personnel and its combined armed forces total about 900,000, while its 2,840 battle tanks outnumber Ukraine’s by more than three to one, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Ukraine’s Prime Minister said a decree recently signed by Zelenskiy – on priority measures to strengthen the state’s defence capabilities, increase the attractiveness of military service and the gradual transition to a professional army – would eventually bring Ukraine’s armed forces to 361,000 personnel.

Military analysts say Ukraine’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile defences are weak, leaving it highly vulnerable to Russian strikes on its critical infrastructure.

Beyond the regular army, Ukraine has volunteer territorial defence units and around 900,000 reservists. Most adult males have at least basic military training, so Russia could find itself facing stubborn and protracted resistance if it tried to capture and hold onto territory. – NDTV

Friday, February 25, 2022 – 01:00

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