What Are the Weapon Capabilities of Ukraine and Russia?

December 13, 2022
UkraineWorld spoke to Ivan Kyrychevsky, military expert at Defense Express Media & Consulting Company.

Key points – in our brief, #UkraineWorldAnalysis:

1. On Ukrainian air defense assets and management

  • Ukrainian air defense consists of various weapons that interact as a system. The simplest anti-aircraft weapon is the DShK anti-aircraft gun, firing a 11.7 mm round, which under certain conditions can shoot down kamikaze drones. There is the Soviet-made Osa-AKM anti-aircraft missile system which reaches up to 10 km, the Strela-10 short-range surface-to-air missile system, the Soviet Shilka and Tunguska self-propelled and radar-guided anti-aircraft weapon system, the German Gepard anti-aircraft-gun tank, the British short-range Stormer HVP complexes, the British Starstreak and American Stinger man-portable air-defense systems, the Japanese Perun complex, the French-Norwegian Mistral, the American NASAMS, and the German IRIS-T.
  • The effectiveness of air defense depends on its management. The Russians are installing electronic jammers to prevent our systems from receiving instructions to fire their missiles. Nevertheless, our defenders are effective in their duties at all stages of the process. In the first months of the war, our anti-aircraft defense demonstrated 20-30% efficiency. Now it reaches 80%.
  • We need more weapons. Western countries have reduced their arsenals. At the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion, Germany had fewer armored vehicles, artillery systems and tanks than Ukraine. That is, we are asking for Leopard 2 tanks, and Germany has only 300 of them.

    We are beating Russia not with numbers, but with intelligence.

  • The Royal Institute of Strategic Studies put forth the following premises: Iranian Shahed-136 suicide drones are more accessible to the Russians than Soviet-made anti-aircraft missiles are to Ukraine. The Russians have about 500 cruise missiles with a range of over 500 km (Iskander, Kh-101, Kalibr).
  • According to the Ukrainian Air Force, an average of two anti-aircraft missiles are used to shoot down one air target. Russia`s systematic strikes on Ukrainian territory will not bring military results, but they are betting on achieving psychological results.

2. On Russo-Iranian cooperation

  • In 2015-2016, there was talk of Russia deploying bombers on Iranian territory. Russia negotiated with Iran to build a railway from St. Petersburg to the Persian Gulf. Russia was actively involved in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in order to build a Russian railway to Iran through Karabakh.
  • These two states put themselves in opposition to the West, exploiting its weaknesses. The West still thought the sanctions could be an elaborate means of paralyzing the flow of finance, while Iran responded with brute force and organized crime, operating on the logic that if engines for the Shahed-136 could not be bought openly, they could be stolen and smuggled into Iran to equip their drones. 
  • For instance, there is an American company, Vicor, which is a Pentagon contractor and which manufactures a guidance system for Tomahawks. This company supplied the Americans with military-grade electronics, and Russia with dual-use electronics, which is why we have found them installed in Kh-101 missiles.
  • Russia has been placed on the list of countries under the most severe sanctions, but no one thought that in order to maintain the sanctions regime, it would be necessary to isolate Pentagon contractors.

3. On the Ukrainian capacity to manufacture weapons

  • Unfortunately, Ukraine does not have the capacity to manufacture long-range weapons, because all our strategic enterprises have been hit multiple times by Russia. When our manufacturers are constantly bombarded, it is difficult to conduct promising anti-missile defense projects. Therefore, for the time being, we are reliant on the support of Western partners or improvisation, such as a flying projectile from a drone with a range of up to 1000 km.
Ivan Kyrychevsky, military expert at Defense Express Media & Consulting Company

This material was prepared with financial support from the International Renaissance Foundation.

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