, 2022-12-22 16:41:00,
- Ground forces succeed in intercepting many Russian missiles
- Fighter jets play complementary, but limited role
- Hundreds of missiles, drones have targeted Ukraine power grid
- Moscow says tactic is legitimate in its ‘special operation’
- Kyiv says it amounts to war crime, seeks more arms from West
KYIV, Dec 22 (Reuters) – As Russian cruise missiles sped towards their target this month, a Ukrainian pilot gave chase in an old Soviet MiG-29 fighter jet and locked onto two of them, but could not take the shot: they were nearing a large town and it was too risky.
He said he passed the targets on to Ukraine’s ground-based air defences which shot them down, as they have done hundreds of missiles since October, blunting the impact of a Russian air campaign that aims to destroy the country’s power grid.
“Fortunately for us, they succeeded,” the 29-year-old pilot, whose codename is Juice, told Reuters, describing the Dec. 5 incident.
Such skirmishes are common in the skies over Ukraine, and their outcomes have a direct bearing on the lives of millions of people who are left without heat, power or running water during the freezing winter if defences fail.
Ukraine calls the attacks a war crime, aimed at cowing innocent civilians. Russia says the electricity grid is a legitimate military target in its “special operation”.
The Pentagon has said Russia’s missile strikes are partly designed to exhaust Kyiv’s supplies of air defences and finally achieve dominance of the skies above the country.
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