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Russia is ready to risk more aircraft losses for successes in eastern Ukraine - ISW

ISW believes that Russia is ready to risk aviation losses in Ukraine

The occupying Russian forces appear to be willing to risk further losses of tactical aviation for the sake of success in eastern Ukraine. Their main target is probably the frontline along the Avdiivka-Donetsk sector.

This fact was pointed out by analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). They praised the "stubbornness" of Russian pilots in their intention to use guided bombs after Ukrainian defenders had already shot down more than a dozen enemy aircraft since mid-February.

The day before, the Ukrainian Air Force reported the destruction of another Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber, which had been conducting strikes at Ukrainian positions in the east on the morning of March 1.

The commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, later stated that Ukrainian forces attempted to shoot down two more Su-34s and one Su-35 of the occupiers but only one Su-34 was destroyed.

In particular, since February 17, Ukrainian defenders have already shot down 15 Russian aircraft in the east (at the Avdiivka and Mariupol directions, over the Sea of Azov).

Russia is ready to risk more aircraft losses for successes in eastern Ukraine - ISW

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Colonel Yurii Ihnat also said that Russia has stopped using A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft over the Azov Sea for the past six days after losing an upgraded A-50U on February 23. According to him, the absence of the radar aircraft forces Russia's Su-34 and Su-35 to fly closer to targets to launch strikes.

Analysts reminded that previous losses of Russian aviation prompted the Russian Armed Forces to temporarily reduce its activity along the entire front line. However, the level of aircraft losses, which has increased in recent weeks, has not yet forced the aggressor to significantly reduce the activity of tactical aviation.

Russia is ready to risk more aircraft losses for successes in eastern Ukraine - ISW

ISW states that Russian forces temporarily established a limited and localized air superiority in the last days of the Avdiivka capture. They are now likely trying to regain it in order to continue to support their tactical offensive in the Avdiivka sector, and have decided that continuing these attacks with air support outweighs the risk of losing more aircraft.

"The loss of 15 aircraft and possibly several highly skilled pilots in about two weeks may not be significant for the Russian military, given that Russia probably has about 300 different Sukhoi design bureau fighters," ISW emphasized.

The spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, Yurii Ihnat, explained that the units received additional tools that allowed them to shoot down Russian aircraft more often. The loss of aviation has become a serious psychological blow to Russian military pilots.

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