- Ukraine says it shot down all of the drones launched by Russia on December 31 and January 1.
- A Ukrainian air force spokesperson said Russia launched 84 Iranian-made suicide drones during that time.
- “Such results have never been achieved before,” Yuriy Ignat said on Tuesday of Ukraine’s air defense successes.
Ukraine says its air defenses managed to knock out all of the suicide drones that Russian forces fired into the country during the New Year holiday period. A senior military official called this defense an unprecedented success.
A spokesperson for the Ukrainian air force said on Tuesday that Russia launched 84 Iranian-made suicide drones on December 31 and January 1, and all of them were downed by Ukrainian air defense forces.
“100% were shot down by air defense forces. Such results have never been achieved before,” Yuriy Ignat told Ukrainian TV, according to state news agency Ukrinform. He said that over the last four months, Kyiv has shot down 500 drones launched by Russia.
Ignat’s remarks provided a more precise figure than that offered by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said on Monday that Ukraine had shot down “more than eighty” Iranian drones since the beginning of 2023.
“This number may increase in the near future. Because these weeks the nights can be quite restless,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address. He added that Ukraine has information that Russia plans a “prolonged attack” using Iranian-made Shahed-136 suicide drones, which have become a weapon of choice for Russian President Vladimir Putin for months as his military suffered battlefield setbacks and his stockpile of precision-guided munitions dwindles.
“Its bet may be on exhaustion. On exhaustion of our people, our air defense, our energy sector,” Zelenskyy said. “But we must ensure — and we will do everything for this — that this goal of terrorists fails like all the others.”
Ukraine’s strategic communications center said the country used US-provided National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems to down the drones in Russia’s recent barrage, which came as Ukraine rang in the new year and occurred just days after the 10-month anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion.
These ground-based air defense systems arrived in the country in early November, and are the same systems that have been used to shield Washington, DC for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, over the last two decades.
As Ukraine continues to face regular Russian missile and drone attacks, Western partners have been increasingly moving to provide more capable air defenses to shield not only Ukrainian civilian but also the critical infrastructure Russia has repeatedly targeted.
“The highly successful use of these weapons shows that our soldiers learn fast, and their work is effective. Western weapons in Ukraine are already helping to prevent death and destruction. The more modern weapons, the lower the risk to human life becomes,” Ukraine’s strategic communications center said on Sunday.
It added that over 30 of the suicide drones launched by Russia were shot down over Kyiv. One drone that was found in the city after the wave of the attacks had “Happy New Year” written in Russian on it and featured a drawing of a gift.
Russia’s New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day drone barrage came just days after Moscow fired over 120 missiles across Ukraine in what was the biggest wave of attacks that the country had seen in months.