A question of skill and mass. Reznikov assessed the Russiansʼ chances of successfully using aviation against Ukraine

Oleg Panfilovych

The accumulation of aviation near the borders with Ukraine is part of Russiaʼs preparation for a counteroffensive, and the success of its use will depend on a number of factors.

The Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told about this in an interview with Babel.

"You should not separate the threat of the Russian offensive and the use of aviation. These are two components of one. Classical military science teaches that if you plan to go on the offensive, you should do three things: force your opponent to stop and go on the defensive; begin to dominate in the air to prevent him from going on a counterattack; you have to destroy all its reserves, logistics chains, stocks — and for this you also need aviation. Therefore, when we say that the Russians are preparing for an offensive, it must also be about aviation," the minister noted.

Speaking about the Russiansʼ chances of a successful air campaign, Reznikov emphasized that it would depend on several factors, such as the skill of the pilots, the weather, the maneuverability and the technical condition of the planes. He also drew attention to the fact that the Ukrainian military managed to destroy most of the flying elite of the Russians and now they have mainly young and less experienced pilots flying.

"It also depends on the mass of their arrival, and how many days or hours we will need to launch anti-aircraft missiles. Conventionally speaking, two missiles for one target. If 20 planes — 40 missiles, 100 planes — 200. There are risks, but it should not be taken as if everything is lost. Our partners are aware of this, which is why they are taking such an active position, especially at Lloyd Austin. He is very supportive of Ukraine and tells [partners]: "Time, time and time again! Speed up the transfer of weapons, especially air defense systems," the minister stated.

  • On February 14, 2023, The Financial Times, citing representatives of Western intelligence, wrote that the Russian ground forces are exhausted, so the Russian Federation can bet on aviation.
  • On February 16, British intelligence said that it considered an extended Russian air campaign against Ukraine unlikely. The British estimated that the Russian Air Force had approximately 1 500 manned military aircraft and had lost over 130 aircraft since the start of the full-scale invasion. Of the 1 500 aircraft, not all are operational. In every army of the world, it is stipulated that 30% of the aircraft fleet are planes that undergo routine maintenance or are under repair.
  • The Russian edition "Vazhnye istorii” ["Important Stories"] with reference to a source in the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported that the Russians really decided to massively involve aviation in Ukraine.