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Ukrainian Armed Forces strikes on air defense systems can make occupied Crimea unusable for Russian army — ISW

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Further strikes by the Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on enemy air defense facilities in temporarily occupied Crimea may make the peninsula unsuitable for use by the Russian army as a foothold.

This was reported by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

It is noted that the constant strikes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Russian military facilities in Crimea are forcing the Russian military to deploy additional air defense assets to the peninsula to protect existing bases and logistics infrastructure.

The report recalled the words of Kirill Budanov, the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, who mentioned that as part of efforts to strengthen Russia’s air defense umbrella over Crimea, Russian troops have deployed the S-500 air defense system on the peninsula. This system is essentially a modernized version of the S-300 air defense system. Budanov characterized the system as «experimental» and added that Russian troops had not used it in combat before.

On June 12, Forbes reported that after several successful strikes by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Russian installations, the Belbek airfield in Crimea is becoming a «trap of attrition» for Russian air defense. The publication stated that during recent strikes, the Air Force destroyed elements of four or five S-400 batteries. However, it clarified that Russia has more than 50 S-400 batteries.

One of the users of the social network X (formerly Twitter), referring to satellite images, noted that Russian forces had deployed 17 barges near the bridge across the Kerch Strait, which connects occupied Crimea with the Krasnodar region.

ISW analysts are convinced that the Russians probably intend to use these barges to protect against Ukrainian naval drones striking the bridge. Earlier, the Russian military had deployed eight barges on the south side of the bridge for similar reasons.

«Ukraine’s current efforts to weaken Russia’s air defense umbrella in Crimea could lead to more Russian air defense assets being deployed to the peninsula, leaving them vulnerable to further strikes by the Ukrainian Armed Forces», – the ISW report says.

The Institute suggests that the Ukrainian Defense Forces are conducting an organized effort to degrade Russian air defense, which could allow the Ukrainian Armed Forces to use manned aircraft (particularly F-16 fighters) more effectively in the long term.

«The West has long supported Ukraine’s right to strike at Russian military targets in occupied Crimea. Ukrainian troops could, in principle, repeat their successful strikes on military targets in Russia if the West approved such strikes behind the aggressor state’s lines», – the ISW report says.

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