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Czech government should persuade its allies to deliver air defence complexes to Ukraine faster

What has been happening in Ukraine in recent days?

On Saturday, 8 October, there was a powerful explosion on the Kerch Bridge, which connects mainland Russia with the Russian-occupied peninsula of Crimea. As a result of this explosion, two pylons collapsed and the railway, which at the time was carrying a freight train with fuel tanks, was damaged.

Two days later, Russia launched a massive air attack on Ukrainian regional towns. Virtually the entire territory of Ukraine was hit, from Kharkiv in the east, across the Dnieper River in the south, to Kiev or Lviv. Many critical infrastructure facilities were damaged, leaving many towns and areas without electricity and water for some time. The airstrike was repeated this morning. Zaporizhzhya and critical infrastructure in Lviv were hit. As a result of these attacks, at least 19 people were killed and over 100 were injured.

What is the strength of Ukraine’s air defence?

Although the Ukrainian armed forces have a number of air defence systems, whether S-300 or MANPADS of the Stinger type, even these cannot intercept all missiles in the event of strategic air strikes by Russia. Notwithstanding these limitations, however, the Ukrainians are very effective, having managed to shoot down more than half of the missiles during yesterday’s airstrikes.

What should the Czech government do?

The Czech Government, as the government holding the Presidency of the European Union, should make a much greater effort to persuade the allies to provide some air defence systems to Ukraine. While the expected deliveries of German IRIS-T systems and US-supplied NASAMS complexes may improve Ukraine’s position in the long run, it must be understood that the WEU needs to strengthen its air defence umbrella as soon as possible. Some EU and NATO member states have Soviet-built S-300 systems, which Ukrainian soldiers already know how to use. For this reason, every effort must be made to convince these allies.