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EDF colonel: Russia fears arrival of F-16s in Ukraine's arsenal

EDF intelligence commander, Col. Ants Kiviselg.
EDF intelligence commander, Col. Ants Kiviselg. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

In recent weeks, Russian forces have been bombing a number of Ukrainian military installations, including air bases. According to Col. Ants Kiviselg, commander of the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) intelligence center, this indicates that Russia considers the arrival of F-16 fighters in Ukraine's arsenal to be dangerous. He added that more major Russian missile attacks are expected.

Speaking at the Ministry of Defense's weekly Friday press conference, Col. Kiviselg said that Russia has been actively using long-range bombers and Kalibr missiles in recent weeks in order to strike at Ukrainian military, defense industry and infrastructure sites.

"All over the country, hits have been made on ports, electricity and railway infrastructure, military airfields, weapons and ammunition depots and military training facilities as well as defense industry enterprises engaged in the production and repair of weapons," Kiviselg said.

"The violation of the airfields indicates that the Russians consider the arrival of F-16s in Ukraine's arsenal as dangerous," Kiviselg said.

Kiviselg pointed out that one of Russia's ongoing tactics has been to try to overstretch Ukraine's air defenses.

The EDF colonel said that with a spell of cold weather ahead, more large-scale attacks can be expected from Russia in the near future, as it is currently producing more ammunition than it is using.

Kiviselg also said that if Russia is firing 10,000 rockets a day at Ukraine, Ukraine is currently responding with around 2,000 rockets a day.

Kiviselg said that the main target for Russian forces is the town of Avdiivka. Major battles continue to rage both in and around the town, though the Russians have so far failed to completely encircle it.

He went on to say that there is likely to be an attempt to seize or destroy Ukrainian supplies, which are heading in the direction of Avdiivka in order to force those defending the town to either surrender or retreat westwards, allowing the Russian forces to capture it.

"However, neither sides' movements are very fast, because in addition to the actions of the opposing side, their maneuvering has been limited by the minefields that have been established as well as the cold weather that is on the way. Snow drifts are limiting the effectiveness of drone usage, and tank units are reportedly being deployed as buried artillery. Only tracked vehicles are being used to move into positions due to the slippery conditions," Kiviselg said.

The EDF colonel added that the bridgehead of the Ukrainian Armed Forces across the Dnipro River is holding, although it remains under constant indirect fire and the target of infantry attacks from Russian forces.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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