The UK estimates that Ukrainian attacks in Crimea will distract the Russian air force

British military intelligence estimates that Ukrainian attacks against Russian positions in Crimea will eventually lead to the “dispersion” of the Russian air forces deployed there, which are already “degraded.” In its latest assessment published on Saturday, the British Ministry of Defense pointed to the recent Ukrainian attack on May 14 that destroyed two MiG-31 fighter jets, a Russian SA-21 missile battery and a Grave Stone radar at Belbek airfield. This is the fourth attack in the past 30 days to cause losses to the Russian air defense in Crimea after those carried out at the Ai-Petri anti-radar facility on May 12, and Monday at the Dzhankoy airfield in Crimea. April 16 and 29. The Ministry of Defense highlights that “the cumulative effect of these attacks has caused a general deterioration of Russia's ability to defend the airspace around Crimea; at the same time it demonstrates Ukraine's ability to influence Russian air defense operations.” Therefore, London considers it “very likely that this will result in Russia having to distribute its air assets to ensure survival or risk losing more aircraft, while at the same time being forced to transfer air defense assets from other locations.” Thus, the reduction in coverage of A-50U reconnaissance aircraft and the dispersal of Crimean airfields “will likely lead to increased flight hours and combat patrol sorties to fill coverage gaps, which will lead to greater problems in maintaining their fleets.”

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Sacha Woodward

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