“Knocking” Russia out of the sky is Ukraine’s goal for 2024

Ukraine said on Wednesday that it aims to control the air currently dominated by Russia by 2024, warning that defeating Moscow will take “time” and requires help from the West.

This call comes while Westerners are procrastinating over the continuation of the aid to be provided to kyiv. Ukraine fears that these hesitations could lead to a freezing of the conflict, favorable to Russia which occupies nearly 20% of Ukrainian territory.

“In 2024, the priority is to drive Russia out of the sky because whoever controls the sky will determine when and how the war ends,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba told the Davos Economic Forum.

“We defeated them in 2022 on land, we defeated them in 2023 at sea and we are focused on defeating them in the air in 2024,” he added.

Russia attacked Ukraine in February 2022, but failed to take kyiv and then was driven out of the north, northeast and part of the south of the country. In 2023, with maritime drone and missile attacks, Ukraine’s forces were able to lift the blockade of some of its Black Sea ports and partially resume its exports, particularly of grain.

Planes, missiles, drones

To gain mastery of the air, Mr. Kouleba repeated that his country was going to need the West to provide it with planes (F-16s must be delivered this year) as well as long-range missiles, projectiles that the Americans and Europeans only supplied in very small numbers, notably for fear of provoking Russia.

“This will require providing Ukraine with aircraft […]long-range missiles and drones, of which Ukraine has significantly increased its production,” claimed Mr. Kouleba during a panel discussion in Davos, Switzerland.

Also on Tuesday, in Davos, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had already called on his allies to help his country gain “air superiority” over Russia.

“Our partners know our needs and in what quantity,” he said, also highlighting first successes this week, Ukraine having shot down an A-50 spy plane (Russian equivalent of Western AWACS) and destroyed a command plane Il-22.

Ukraine is targeted almost every night by attack drones and missiles launched by Russia from the ground, sea or air.

The Ukrainian air force said it shot down 19 of the 20 attack drones launched by the Russians during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, notably against Odessa, a large port in the South where three people were injured.

On Tuesday evening, Ukrainian authorities had already reported 17 injured in Kharkiv, a large city in the North-East, after a double missile attack.

Thanks to defense systems provided by the West, Ukrainian forces manage to shoot down the majority of these devices, but the country risks running out of ammunition.

“We are fighting a very powerful enemy, a very great enemy, an enemy that never sleeps. It takes time,” noted Mr. Kouleba.

Ukraine is in critical need of foreign military aid and must increase its own arms production after two years of fighting an invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Predatory” Putin

However, Europeans and Americans are procrastinating on the continuation of their support, due to internal political dissensions.

The West has also delivered only a very limited number of long-range weapons that kyiv considers crucial to victory. French President Emmanuel Macron promised 40 more on Tuesday.

Russia, which has numerous missiles, attacks Ukraine regularly with dozens of these projectiles in a matter of minutes or hours.

Mr. Putin judged on Tuesday that the very existence of the Ukrainian state was at stake, following the failure of Kiev’s vast summer counter-offensive which did not allow the liberation of the occupied territories. by the Russian army.

“Not only has their counter-offensive failed, but the initiative is entirely in the hands of the Russian armed forces. If this continues, Ukraine’s statehood may suffer an irreparable blow,” he said.

Mr. Putin has claimed in the past that Ukraine would have been destroyed without Western support.

The Russian president further claims that NATO is waging a proxy war against Russia using Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky called the Russian president a “predator”.

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