Russia strikes, Ukraine repairs, survives in winter battle ( News Iowa )

KYIV, Ukraine — When Ukrainian solider Viktor Ganich was given short leave from a military unit, he went to stay in the cell of his mother and stepfather in Kyiv.

And it was done beat early in the morning a Russian drone attack on the city.

One drone crashed into the apartment where Ganich was staying. He lived. His mother and stepfather were killed.

“Really, it’s very surprising,” Ganich said. “Because on the front line, I witnessed bullets above my head, shell casings, shell casings and cement, and I survived. And when I came here to Kyiv, it’s strange, because it just feels weird.”

Russia dramatically stepped up its air campaign last month with waves of drones and missiles.

In the latest strike, Russia fired 70 cruise missiles on Wednesday. This has knocked out electricity, heating and water in many cities and affected already fragile power systems. These basic services return consistently on Thursdays and Fridays.

Ukraine said it fired 50 of its 70 missiles on Wednesday. The figure cannot be independently confirmed. But in line with other recent requests from Ukraine, he says that he usually knocks two parts to fire in three-quarters coming.

But the Russian weapons that hit the targets do heavy damage.

Ukrainian soldiers set fire to a building hit by a Russian missile in Kyiv.  Russia fired 70 missiles into Ukraine last Wednesday in an air campaign against the country's civilian infrastructure.

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

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Ukrainian soldiers set fire to a building hit by a Russian missile in Kyiv. Russia fired 70 missiles into Ukraine last Wednesday in an air campaign against the country’s civilian infrastructure.

You need more air defenses

“Ukraine does not have enough firepower to be fully protected from the sky. For this reason, we ask the whole world to help Ukraine in any way,” said Col. Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force.

Ukraine’s air defenses have limited air defenses to protect key military and government sites. However, recent Russian attacks have left Ukraine unable to protect all potential targets in the energy sector.

Ukraine says most of the country’s power plants and substations were hit and damaged when the Russian air campaign began on Oct. 10.

The rolling effect cuts power now, which usually lasts about four hours at a time. The prospect is more ominous in the darkest latitudes on the coldest days of winter.

“I think Ukraine poses a real challenge from the Russian consensus strikes campaign that targets the electricity grid,” said Michael Kofman, a Russian military expert at CNA, a research group outside Washington.

“I think it will take a toll on time. Ukraine can govern properly now, fix blackouts. I have seen most of the cities of Ukraine to save electricity. They are quite dark at night, even if they have power,” he added.

Ukrainians lined up for food near a painting by graffiti artist Banksy on the wall of a destroyed building in Horenka, Ukraine, outside the capital Kyiv.

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

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Ukrainians lined up for food near a painting by graffiti artist Banksy on the wall of a destroyed building in Horenka, Ukraine, outside the capital Kyiv.

Drones pose a new type of threat

Ukraine has been competing with Russian ballistic missiles and cruise missiles since the war began.

Now Russia is also testing large, low-flying, slow-moving drones from Iran. This still has multiple Ukrainian air defenses.

“Drones can linger, which makes them different from a weapon, and then they decide to launch a bomb and explode on impact,” said Kelly Grieco, a think tank at the Stimson Center in Washington.

He says that all these Russian weapons require different defenses.

“I don’t think it’s very likely that there are air defense systems in the world that can create the kind of impenetrable barrier that we want to be able to do now,” he said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently announced the arrival of new Western air defenses. US contributions include what is called NASAMS, which defends the White House and other government buildings in Washington.

This certainly helps Michael Kofman. But integrating weapons systems is a different matter. He noted that Ukraine currently operates 14 separate artillery systems, including several sent this year by the West.

“The problem is that if you get two air defense systems, and they have a few batteries of each, they create continuous challenges for maintenance, for operation, for training,” said Kofman.

They practice these challenges every day. At an apartment building in downtown Kyiv, a Russian missile recently crashed into the third floor, killing an elderly woman.

There was power in the neighborhood. In the darkened streets I asked young Vladimir Yanachuk if the Ukrainians were ready for this winter.

“Ukrainians are not afraid. The winter will be hard. But this winter will not only be hard for Ukrainians, but also for Russian soldiers,” he said.

As we have said, the lights suddenly burst into life in the surrounding buildings. Tonight, at least, there would be electricity and heat.

Greg Myre is NPR’s national security correspondent currently on assignment in Ukraine. follow him @gregmyre1.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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