ICDS chief: It is a miracle Russia has not achieved air superiority

Indrek Kannik.
Indrek Kannik. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Seeing as Russia's air force is many times the size of Ukraine's, it is a miracle it has not achieved air superiority in the Ukraine war, Indrek Kannik, director of the International Center for Defense and Security, told ERR.

Kannik said that Ukraine needs air superiority to be able to fight in accordance with NATO standards, while the balance of power between Russia and Ukraine is far from even in this area.

"It is a miracle that Russia has not had total air superiority from the first days of the war. It was suggested toward the start of the war that Ukraine had around 70 more or less airworthy battle aircraft, while Russia had at least ten times that number. This figure remains more or less the same for Ukraine, also because it has received allied support, while Russia's has definitely fallen, even though it maintains a clear advantage. Still, the situation is one where neither side's aircraft readily dare approach the front. Ukraine's air defenses have been strong enough to keep Russians from flying near the front line or indeed across it," Kannik said.

"I believe it to be among the more miraculous aspects of this war," he added.

The ICDS chief said that Ukraine's attacks on Crimea of the past few weeks have been remarkable.

"Hitting the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, knocking out a Russian submarine and landing craft near there a few days before. These are remarkable events. There have been attacks on airfields and other smaller sites in Crimea," he said.

Kannik suggested that while Ukraine is expecting new and better weapons from the West, the U.S. administration is trying to avoid an escalation.

"The Americans have rather felt that baby steps are needed. Otherwise, there might be an escalation, the Russians might resort to nuclear weapons. At least that is how the administration has justified it for itself and allies. You can either buy this reasoning or not. I am rather skeptical of this approach. I rather think that the Russians are more likely to comply and behave themselves if they are showed overwhelming force. Everything that falls short of that rather works to escalate matters and give them courage," Kannik said.

"But Joe Biden and his advisers have decided differently and we need to accept it because America is our most important ally and it is nearly impossible to stage military operations without their support, including military support."


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Editor: Merili Nael, Marcus Turovski

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