Russia has scaled back its air strikes on Ukraine's front lines following the downing of several Russian planes by Ukrainian forces, as reported by the U.S. think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
This change in tactics comes after Ukrainian forces claimed to have shot down three Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers on December 21 and 22, followed by two more Russian warplanes on Christmas Eve.
The Ukrainian General Staff also reported the destruction of a Russian Su-30 and an Su-34 aircraft on Christmas Day.
Ukrainian Air Defense Capabilities
The decreased use of glide bombs by Russian forces suggests a growing concern about Ukrainian air defense capabilities. Glide bombs, which can be released up to 45 miles away from targets, reduce exposure to anti-aircraft fire.
However, recent losses indicate that Ukraine's air defense systems are effectively challenging Russian air superiority.
Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets noted that Russian forces are limiting their use of manned aviation near Russian-occupied Crimea, particularly in the northwestern Black Sea region.
Impact on the War Dynamics
This development marks a significant shift in the dynamics of the nearly two-year war since Russia's invasion in February 2022.
The Ukrainian Air Force's success in downing Russian aircraft has not only demonstrated their growing defensive capabilities but also potentially altered Russia's approach to aerial warfare in the region.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stated that Russia has lost 329 aircraft since the start of the war, highlighting the effectiveness of Ukraine's air defense strategy.
The ISW report also mentioned that Russian forces carried out drone and missile strikes against Ukraine on December 23 and 24, indicating a continued reliance on these tactics. However, the Ukrainian military's ability to shoot down a significant number of Shahed drones launched from Krasnodar Krai suggests a robust defense against these threats.