Leaked U.S. Intelligence documents suggest Ukraine's military could be facing a major problem: they’re running perilously low on the air defense missiles they use to protect against Russian attacks. These Soviet-era systems have also deterred Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, from using his fighter jets and bombers to attack military and civilian targets. Analysts say that, if Ukraine's primary air defense system is rendered helpless, the war could take a major turn.
Scripps News spoke with Yuriy Ignat, the spokesman of the Air Forces of Ukraine.
Question: According to the leaked U.S. intelligence documents, Ukraine's air defenses would crumble within weeks. Do you agree with that assessment?
Col. Ignat: I cannot answer this question directly because information about the type of missiles and their number is classified. Since the first days of the war, we have been using a very large number of rockets. The enemy is trying, in particular, to deplete our reserves by launching many of these Iranian drones. It is difficult to replenish the ammunition because all this equipment was produced in the Soviet Union, in Russia. Today, Russia is the manufacturer of these missiles. Old Soviet equipment breaks down — not only the ammunition of the missiles you asked about can run out, but the systems themselves can stop working. Spare parts are also running out. There is nowhere to get them. They are made only in Russia. It’s important to understand that there is no other way out than to switch to Western-style air defense systems. This is the only way. Well, another way out is fighter jets — F16 jets.
Question: These intelligence leaks, how damaging are they to Ukraine’s military?
Col. Ignat: First, it has not yet been proven that this is real information. Any information leak is dangerous. The enemy is constantly trying to get this kind of information. Information today is very costly and the price we pay is with our lives.
SEE MORE: US searches for intelligence leaker
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