Aerial War Over Ukraine Heats Up as Russia Pounds Cities – New York Times – 08.11.22
Ukraine, beefing up its air defenses, says Russia has bought ballistic missiles from Iran to replace the precision weapons it is firing at services vital to civilians. By Marc Santora, Shashank Bengali and Andrew E. Kramer.
KYIV, Ukraine — As Ukrainian officials celebrate the arrival of more advanced Western air-defense systems and claim growing success at shooting down Russian rockets and drones, they are warning that Moscow is buying new long-range weapons against which Kyiv’s forces have little defense — specifically, ballistic missiles from Iran.
With movement on the ground slowing, the battle in the skies above Ukraine is increasingly central to the course of the war, and both sides are looking to their allies for new weapons. In the past month, Moscow’s forces have dramatically stepped up strikes far behind the front lines on cities and vital services like power, heat and water. These are part of a lethal campaign to tear down Ukrainian daily life and morale.
Ukrainian and Western officials say Russia’s stocks of precision-guided missiles and drones have run low, prompting it to turn to Iran. A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force said on Monday that Moscow and Tehran had finalized an agreement to deliver Iranian Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar ballistic missiles to Russia, which several news organizations confirmed, citing unnamed sources.
A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, said on Tuesday, “I can’t corroborate that information,” but he called the reports worrying. He added, “When we see Iranian ballistic missiles being employed on the battlefield in Ukraine, we will do what we can to illuminate that.”
Ukrainian air defenses have been highly successful at shooting down drones and cruise missiles, though some get through and cause enormous damage, but ballistic missiles, which fly much faster, are a tougher challenge.
This week, the United States and its allies delivered to Ukraine its first two NASAMS air defense missile launchers, with more on the way, adding to Kyiv’s growing arsenal of Western and Soviet-legacy air defense systems. But the new additions are not designed to be effective against ballistic missiles.
“As of today, we can say that the recent escalation of Russian missile and drone terror has only resulted in the world responding — responding with new aid to Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his overnight address on Monday.
He and his aides signaled that their position on peace with Russia, far from softening, was harder than ever, after reports that behind the scenes, the Biden administration had urged Kyiv to be open to negotiation.
Mr. Zelensky laid out in stark terms his conditions for any talks with Russia, terms that would be seen by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as a humiliating defeat: restoration of Ukraine’s “territorial integrity,” meaning the return of Russian-occupied lands, compensation for the damage caused by Russia’s war and prosecutions for war crimes.
World leaders, he said, should “force Russia into genuine peace negotiations.”
Ukraine had “repeatedly proposed” a resumption of peace talks, Mr. Zelensky said, only to have Russia respond “with new terrorist attacks, shelling or blackmail.” No such talks have occurred in several months.
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Marc Santora and Andrew E. Kramer reported from Kyiv, Ukraine, and Shashank Bengali from London. Richard Pérez-Peña and Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting from New York, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.
Marc Santora is the International News Editor based in London, focusing on breaking news events. He was previously the Bureau Chief for East and Central Europe based in Warsaw. He has also reported extensively from Iraq and Africa. @MarcSantoraNYT
Shashank Bengali is a senior editor at The New York Times and leads the live news team in London. He joined The Times in 2021 after nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent, Washington correspondent and editor at The Los Angeles Times and McClatchy Newspapers. @SBengali
Andrew E. Kramer is a reporter covering the countries of the former Soviet Union. He was part of a team that won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting for a series on Russia’s covert projection of power. @AndrewKramerNYT
A version of this article appears in print on Nov. 9, 2022, Section A, Page 6 of the New York edition with the headline: Aerial War Over Ukraine Heats Up as Russia Hammers Cities and Vital Services. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
A Ukrainian artillery unit outside Bakhmut on Tuesday. After the Russian offensive slowed into a grinding strategy of shelling cities and towns, the Ukrainians needed more and better artillery. Now it is air defenses. Credit...Bulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images