Ukraine: Are arms shipments from the West making a difference?
One, from last week, shows a Russian helicopter flying low, just above the tree line – in the hope of avoiding what’s about to happen next. Tracking its path is the smoking trail of a surface-to-air missile. In a matter of seconds the missile has found its target. On impact the Russian helicopter crashes to the ground, before bursting into a fireball
Russian aircraft are being shot down by Ukrainian forces – as well as the video above, this video shows a jet hit near Kharkiv – and military analysts believe there’s evidence that recently supplied weapons by the West are already being used.
Justin Bronk, a research fellow on airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, says there’s been visual confirmation of at least 20 Russian aircraft shot down in Ukraine so far – both helicopters and jets. That’s significantly fewer than claimed by Ukraine’s ministry of defence, which says it has downed 48 Russian planes and 80 helicopters. Yet even the lower number shows Russia’s struggled to gain supremacy in the skies.
Ukraine has suffered losses too. But UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC that Russia had so far not been successful in destroying the country’s air defences and air force.
Before the war began, Ukraine’s military aircraft were outnumbered at least three-to-one by those that had been amassed on the border by Russia.
Mr Wallace said Ukraine’s ability to keep some of its air defences intact was already forcing Russian aircraft to fly at night to avoid detection.
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