“Airspace over Ukraine still being contested …”

Ukraine Air Force SU-27

“The airspace over Ukraine is still being contested as Ukrainian forces continue to fight back against the Russian invasion, according to a senior U.S. defense official on Sunday. 

“That means that the Ukrainians are still using both aircraft, and their own air and missile defense systems, which we believe are still intact and still viable,” said the official in an off-camera press briefing released by the Department of Defense. “Though they have been, as I said yesterday, there’s been some degradation by the Russians.”

Roughly two-thirds of Russian forces located along the border have now been committed inside Ukraine, an increase from 24 hours earlier when about half of those forces were committed inside the country, the official said. “

“The Russian momentum during the invasion has slowed, and there was no indication that the Russian military has taken control of any major cities in Ukraine, despite that being their goal, the official said. 

Russia is continuing to advance in three major “axes” of Ukraine since beginning an invasion early Thursday. 

But the Russian forces continue to face stiff resistance from Ukraine, along with fuel and logistics shortages in their advance on Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city located near the border with Russia in the east. “

Comment: The question arose here of whether or not there would be a Ukrainian Air Force that foreign volunteers could reinforce. Here’s the answer to that question. pl



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72 Responses to “Airspace over Ukraine still being contested …”

  1. Fred says:

    So more analysis from unnamed officials in off camera interviews? How long did they expect it to take the Russian aerospace forces to destroy Ukraine’s air force and defense systems given the assets deployed?

    • Pat Lang says:


      They probably thought it would be over in a day or so. First you attack the air defense radars. Then you crater the runways. Then you attack the aircraft trapped on those airfields with cratered runways. By any rational analysis there should no longer be a Ukrainian Air Force, but there is.

    • TTG says:


      Taking out the Ukrainian Air Force should have been done the first night. The Russians tried. They attacked all main airbases with at least six MiG-29s destroyed on the ground at Ivano-Frankivsk Airport near the Romanian border. They just did a half assed job of it with any follow up strikes. The Ukrainians also trained in operating from roadways which is made easier since their Soviet designed aircraft are built for such austere operating conditions.

      • Polish Janitor says:

        why not using su-24s, su-34s as attack jets against land targets as they did extensively in Syria? Using modified Mig-29s seems a bit odd in such sensitive air-ground operations when you have better and more specialized jets to carry these out. Mind you, the Russians did launch accurate cruise-missile against radars and ground-based air command centers from Belarus and from inside Russia, so maybe this is the reason why.

    • Leith says:

      Russian Defense Ministry itself has only claimed downing seven Ukrainian fixed wing a/c, plus another 31 destroyed on the ground, and seven helos.

      Wikipedia says Ukrainian Air Force has 98 Sukhois and MiGs.

      Plus they have another 80 assorted reconnaissance birds, transports, trainers, and 15 rotary wing.

  2. Babeltuap says:

    They are hashing out terms right now so hopefully this ends soon but salute to all the “anti-Russian” Americans who voted to import Russian oil and stop using ours. I’m sure the money had no impact on this situation…meh.

  3. A.Pols says:

    Could it be that the Russians are just being methodical and that their primary goal is to subdue Ukraine without destroying its civil infrastructure, and that they want to isolate Ukrainian forces concentrated in the East first? Why would they want to destroy Ukraine’s power grid, water systems, etc and then be forced to eat what they kill? I suspect that Russia views the eastern half of Ukraine as a fraternal entity filled with ethnic Russians who deserve a modicum of care.
    Much of what we are seeing is often repurposed images of much older provenance, purporting to show the brave Ukies kicking clumsy Russian butts, some of it is actually imagery from Video games!
    But it’s pretty early in the game. After all, it took the Wehrmacht the better part of 2 months to take over Ukraine in 41. It’s a lot of territory and if the Russians really just want to capture the place intact they can’t just “burn all, steal all, kill all”

    • Barbara Ann says:


      The Wehrmacht were waging a war of annihilation against the Slavs for lebensraum. This is supposedly a war to liberate a brother people from a foreign controlled puppet regime. Any comparison is meaningless.

      The only way I can make any sort of sense of the half-assed and genuinely bizarre Russian tactics is with a huge disconnect between planning assumptions and the reality on the ground. It seems the planners assumed a swift collapse of a poorly motivated Ukrainian army followed by Russian liberators being showered with flowers by a grateful populace. How do you adapt a war strategy that requires you to make every effort to spare the lives of the folk you are sent to liberate, when it becomes clear you are being met as an occupier?

      • Peter Hug says:

        It’s always nice to hope that you will be met with open arms and flowers – but anyone who builds a battle plan predicated on that as a baseline assumption is a total idiot.

        I don’t think the Russians are idiots – I think that this may actually be uncovering real limitations in Russian capabilities, in personnel, equipment, and logistics.

  4. Leith says:

    Is there any truth to the RUMINT on twitter that a Russian military comm satellite, Meridian4, has been silenced?

    It is 11 years old so possibly a failure and not an attack. And there are other birds in that Meridian constellation. If those go out it would suggest deliberate interference.

    • Barbara Ann says:


      It is worth pointing out that your first source is a “Bellingcat exec director”. That said, it is clear the ‘liberation’ of Ukraine is going very badly. Another example; here is the reaction the liberators received at Berdyansk city hall. I’ve verified the location myself on Google maps. This place is on the Sea of Azoz, a few miles west of Mariupol. If they get this reaction here and shot up in Kharkiv it is only going to get much worse.


      I am now firmly in the Putin has lost it camp. Delusions of greater Russia have caused him to bet the farm and he and Russia are going to lose everything. It is a tragedy of epic proportions.

      I stand by my non intervention stance at this point. It is quite clear Russia cannot possibly prosecute this war of ‘liberation’ under these circumstances and the last thing we must do it increase the pressure on a delusional man with his finger on the nuclear button. The Russian leadership and Russian people need to deal with the problem and the quicker the better.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        Barbara Ann,
        It is, of course, very difficult to know what is really happening – or even why. It looks to me, for whatever that’s worth, that Putin had hoped to do invasion lite; which would have looked like – meaning better “optics” – a war of liberation. It didn’t go as well as hoped for. Now (within the last 24 hours) he’s switched to plan B, which isn’t so lite and which he may be hoping will inspire Zelensky to agree to acceptable terms, or will simply result in military victory; which would be expanding Russian borders to include the Donbas and a buffer North of Crimea.

        Not seeing evidence that Putin has lost his mind, but I have always respected your opinions. Maybe you could elaborate when the time is right.

        • Barbara Ann says:


          I don’t think he has lost his mind. My best guess is that unlike with Syria, for example, Putin has let an emotional response to the “genocide” of fellow Slavs overcome his evidently very capable powers of rational thought and trademark caution. There is some speculation that Scholz’ mockery of the Donbas “genocide” accusations on the 19th was the trigger that set events in motion.

          As I said in an earlier comment, the provocateurs who have goaded Putin into waging this unwinnable war have done their homework and pressed all the right buttons. In his speeches Putin has said he considers it intolerable that Ukrainians are being taught to hate Russians, WWII history is being re-written and genuine Nazis of that era venerated (albeit by a small minority).

          “The past is never dead. It’s not even past” – William Faulkner

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Barbara Ann,
            OK. I agree with your interpretation. At the risk of being labeled a defeatist Russian abettor, I think UKR has no air and just a few desperate drones that can harass at best. Putin’s forces are about to envelop the Donbas in a classic pincer movement while keeping the UK reserves fixed in and around Kiev and threatening Z himself there. At that point, Z must beg for peace. Putin might let him have it if UKR goes neutral and the Donbas becomes part of Russia or its own little country, like Belarus. Mission accomplished.

            It will be over before the Flying Tigers and covert weapons shipments get there, let alone have any impact.

            What the US media, their talking heads and pols think they’re doing by denying all of that reality escapes me entirely. It’s like they’re psychotic, believing if they repeat enough lies and keep everyone’s head in the sand, that maybe their private reality will manifest. Putin looks sane, romantic and dutiful. Our people look nuts and like they’re losing it more every day.

          • Pat Lang says:


            Yes. You are a defeatist Russia appeaser. Happy?

          • Cerena says:

            What would be a tolerable “small minority” for the US if the Canadian descendants of Nazi collaborators began venerating Nazis and holding Nazi parades in Ottawa and Toronto? – 70 thousand, 50 thousand? How would you feel this disgrace while attending the Arlington Memorial and seeing the graves of those fallen in WWII?

            Mr. Zelensky’s National Guard includes a self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. How would you feel about the Ukrainian government if your grandfather gave his life in a fight with Nazism? The logo of the Azov Battalion is a variant of the swastika.
            By the way, Facebook has welcomed the praise of the Neo-Nazi Azov battalion.

          • Pat Lang says:

            Are you a Russian?

      • Polish Janitor says:

        In your opinion, would it make any sense to assume that maybe Putin has managed to secure an ‘esoteric’ form of victory in all of this by now not in the military/conventional sense of the word, but in terms of forcing EU (and possibly the West in the larger sense) to do away with the ‘woke’ ideology that has been emanating from many European social democratic states (Finland, Sweden for instance) and allocating money/resources to defense and security domains from now on. For example we are seeing that Finland and Sweden- among the hotbeds of woke ideology- are putting security first and foremost and likely applying for full-scale NATO membership. Same process in Germany with the %100 increase in their upcoming defense budget announced by the chancellor. Switzerland too. As with Putin’s nuclear threat yesterday, again I think it also creates a sense of urgency in the EU to act fast and act now to sideline ‘decorative matters’ and concentrate more on real issues such as energy supply, defense, collective security, unity, etc. I think the EU leaders have seized the opportunity to carry out this paradigmatic shift in their nations while the fire is still hot in Ukraine. We know that oil and gas is still flowing to the EU, Russia Visa-ban has not still been flouted yet and Josep Borell just announced that Ukraine’s NATO membership is not under consideration currently which is a polite way to say NO to Zelensky. This theory explains this brand new shift from the EU to pay foremost attention to defense and security which has caught the surprise of many even the U.S as I watched Condi Rice yesterday expressing her surprise enthusiastically. The spheres that would take hits (i.e. de-funded) will be the ‘democracy-promotion’ and certain civil society sectors that are closely related to the woke ideology. I think in Putin’s mind-from a civilizational/cultural standpoint- the Ukraine invasion has a lot of ideological ‘baggage’, one being the danger that democracy promotion anywhere anytime (now in the form of nihilistic woke ideology) especially its transmission to adjacent countries poses to Putin’s Russia. Two, Putin’s numerous mention of the term ‘-de-Nazification’ of Ukraine could mean his opposition to the idea of democracy promotion which I think fits into the larger reasoning behind the invasion of Ukraine.

        • Barbara Ann says:


          “De-Nazification” is just the shorthand for what is in reality a civilizational rescue mission. The problem is, it appears many Ukrainians do not want to be rescued and thus the mission must fail.

          Karlin was right about the invasion, but he is dead wrong about there being no prospect of an insurgency. This will be far worse than Afghanistan, as the inevitable retreat will be an admission that 1) Ukrainians are lost forever to Holy Russia and 2) the ‘Nazis’ have won.

          Any fleeting esoteric victories over nihilistic woke ideology in the West will be irrelevant when Russia is defeated and the government collapses. The color revolutionists will finally have their way and that same nihilistic woke ideology, along with neoliberalism, will soon be destroying Russian culture too. I pray I am wrong, but existential wars have a binary outcome.

  5. TTG says:

    The Ukrainian Air Force retains major military-civil airports in the western half of the country. This includes maintenance and repair facilities for MIG-29 and SU-27 aircraft as well as the main Bayraktar TB2 drone base. There are quite a few videos of the ongoing Bayraktar strikes including at least three separate strikes on Buk systems.

    The EU plan to transfer aircraft to Ukraine appears to be on track and may happen damned near immediately. It would be a significant backfill. Today’s announcement that NATO will provide geospatial intelligence to Ukraine will also help. With the public announcement of both these assistance plans means we don’t give a rat’s ass whether Putin knows about it or not. In fact, we probably want him to see it and ponder upon the meaning of it all.

    “As noted by Janes World Air Forces, the Polish Air Force fields 21 single-seat and six twin-seat MiG-29s; the Bulgarian Air Force fields 11 single-seat and three twin-seat MiG-29s; while the Slovak Air Force fields nine single-seat and two twin-seat MiG-29 aircraft (although only a small number is thought to still be in an airworthy condition). The Bulgarian Air Force also fields six single-seat and two twin-seat Su-25s.”

    • MK says:

      As noted by the saker website, “The Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman has declared that Russia has air supremacy over the entire Ukraine.

      In the meantime, the US-NATO base in Achakkov has been totally destroyed by Russian missiles.”

      Pure propaganda?

    • Peter Hug says:

      Devoting time and resources to killing Buks only makes sense if you expect to continue to be able to contest the airspace.

      • TTG says:

        Peter Hug,

        Makes perfect sense to me. The odd part is that none of the Buks hit by drones were deployed for action. Several other AD weapons were captured including a Pantsir without a fight.

        These and a great number of other tanks, APCs and other vehicles have been abandoned. Their crews just vanished, probably headed back to Russia. There’s a video of nine Russian soldiers who abandoned their vehicle near Sumy and are walking back to Russia carrying their individual kit and weapons down the road. It’s no more than a 20 mile road march. Locals watched them and asked, ”Going back? Good. Hope you didn’t leave any mines behind. Glory to Ukraine. Good.”

        The Russian Army has a serious morale and discipline problem judging by the rate of desertions apparent just in the video and photographic evidence openly available.

        • Pat Lang says:

          Soviet 40th Army in Afghanistan also had bad morale. Supply never worked well. Men were not fed adequately and were wandering around with their asses hanging out from worn out clothes. Officer/soldier relations were terrible. Sound similar?

  6. James Doleman says:

    The financial war, very good piece fron the Financial Times


  7. Lars says:

    I have just read some reports that would indicate that an effort is underway to send fighter jets and volunteer pilots from east European countries to Ukraine and it also mentions that US air crafts with volunteer pilots are in the pipeline. So that suggestion seems to be rather valid.

  8. Personanongrata says:

    “The Russian momentum during the invasion has slowed, and there was no indication that the Russian military has taken control of any major cities in Ukraine, despite that being their goal, the official said.

    How does the official know what their goal is?

    Did Putin ring the official and disclose Russia’s strategy?

  9. Yeah, Right says:

    Far be it for me to take a contrarian view, but if the Ukrainian air force is still capable of putting significant assets into the air then why haven’t they attempted to knock down a span or two on the Kerch Strait Bridge?

    I keep being told that wars are won or lost on logistics, yet there is the only supply route between Crimea and the rest of Russia and it hasn’t even had the paintwork scratched.

    “according to a senior U.S. defense official on Sunday”

    I read that and I keep hearing the voice of Mandy Rice-Davies: “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

    • Pat Lang says:

      Yeah, right
      Perhaps they have tried. Do you know that they have not?

      • Yeah, Right says:

        If they have tried then they have very definitely not succeeded.

        Which brings in question of just how “intact and viable” the Ukrainian air force actually is.

        After all, we can both agree that hitting a bridge with a laser-guided bomb is not the most difficult task ever given to a fighter-bomber pilot, correct?

        There comes a time when the pronouncements by unnamed defense officials don’t match up with what common-sense says we should be seeing.

        • Pat Lang says:

          Yeah, right
          No. We do not agree. Have you ever tried it? You actually know nothng about any of these subjects. Jus blah-blah. Do you have any military or intelligence experience?

          • Yeah, Right says:

            There is a pattern of ad-hom attacks that you make when someone doesn’t agree with you.

            Which is odd, since you warn people not to indulge in ad-hom attacks.

            I’ll say it again: dropping a laser-guided bomb on a stationary object is one of the easier tasks that a fighter-bomber pilot will be ordered to carry out.

            You can disagree, and good on you for doing so.

            But you’d be wrong.

          • Pat Lang says:

            Yeah, right
            Not ad hom attack. Just commenting on your total lack of qualifications. This supposed Australian has always had an Israeli e-mail address. Hasbara? BTW. Goodby.

    • TTG says:

      Yeah, Right,

      You’re asking why a few Soviet era aircraft don’t fly over a distance guarded by the AD/A2 systems of Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet to hit a bridge undoubtedly also defended? That would be a suicide mission with a slim to none chance of success. I don’t know what kind of munitions or targeting system is available to Ukrainian aircraft, but I bet it’s not state of the art. Knocking out bridges are not that easy. Better for the Ukrainian Air Force to use the aircraft and drones available to hit more immediate and reachable targets. I’ve seen videos of the drones taking out several Buk systems and just saw a drone strike on a train of tank (fuel?) cars. That train had to be in Russia. No problem. The Ukrainians already hit a Russian airbase a few days ago destroying a few aircraft.

  10. rduke11 says:

    Russian silence is weird. There is a many soldiers on the frontline – but no press, no media, no reports. All Russian top war journalists covering Donbas, while rest of Russian forces work quietly.

  11. walrus says:

    I would have thought that if whats left of the Ukraine Airforce was a threat to the Russians at the tactical level, then the Russians would be protected by Pantsir and Tor systems.

    In my opinion the idea of some sort of “International Squadron” using “borrowed” aircraft is a romantic fiction channeling Claire Chennault because it is a recipe for increasing the intensity of the fighting without being decisive.

    Yes, I know that Soviet era jets carry their own tool kit and can be serviced, refueled and rearmed by the side of the road. We can also provide intel, etc. However, I would have thought that the supporting Western/NATO power is taking a great risk if they think that they can pussy foot around quoting international law arguing that they are not “technically” at war because the Russian reaction to that sophism might be rather violent.

    Similarly the idea of folk without something like current military training volunteering for Ukrainian ground combat is asking for trouble for the participants.

    • Pat Lang says:


      That’s me. A hopeless romantic. GBs are romantics. Do you think the Ukrainians should surrender? Maybe Churchill should have surrendered. Was your father who sailed an open boat from the occupied Philippines to Australia a hopeless romantic? Should Australia have surrendered to the Japs in WW2? The little bastards looked like winners until Guadalcanal and Savo Island.

      • Barbara Ann says:

        Hopeless romantics are a dime a dozen, hopeless and fearless romantics on the other hand..

      • walrus says:

        Dad wasn’t a romantic, very much the reverse but he knew his voyage could be done if he applied himself. He was a great admirer of the seamanship of Captain William Bligh who safely made a 3600 mile voyage to Java in a 23 foot open boat with eighteen crew a few inches freeboard and limited rations after the mutiny.

        As for the Ukrainian conflict, I have trouble reconciling the idea of a “plucky little Ukraine” facing up to the huge Russian Bear because Ukraine is not alone and I believe we have supported and encouraged their behaviour in a successful attempt to provoke the bear.

        Of course if they had been minding their own business when the Japanese attacked out of the blue as happened to America, Britain i the Pacific and Australia, of course I would support them.

        I am still a romantic but at my age my opportunities are limited by the need to keep within range of a toilet and my supply of medication.

    • TTG says:


      The Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister said several thousand of these hopeless romantics have already applied to fight for Ukraine. I saw a video of more than a dozen British and US former SF types heading to the fighting from the Polish border, hopeless romantics all of them. I remember my great grandmother reminiscing about killing the bolsheviki as she and her family fled occupied Lithuania. Another hopeless romantic. The Baltics, Poland and most of Eastern Europe is chock full of such hopeless romantics.

      • walrus says:

        TTG, my grandfather was a rich manufacturer in Hamburg until Hitler came to power. My father was chauffeur driven to school. he was lucky ro get out of Germany alive. Other relatives died in concentration camps. Did either my father or I spend our lives fulminating over the beastly Germans? No.

        The Bolsheviks are gone. Why spend your life seeking revenge? In my opinion, it will destroy you as surely as it destroyed Captain Ahab.

        • Pat Lang says:

          walrus This has nothing to do with Bolsheviks in Russai. The remaining group of Bolsheviki are in the US. Your father lived in Japan for a long time before in WW2 in comfortable circumstances. He was in Manila when the Jap took over and as a German national, he was unmolested by them. In fact, he was the hired driver for a Japanese officer before he set out for Australia.

        • Walker says:

          There are no Soviet Tatars with orders to rape and pillage in present operations. The ideals of heroically resisting the slavery of Communism are lacking. In fact, one must not that the Statists are in the West, not Russiya. To volunteer for the Ukraine would seem to serve the same masters that have pushed the West toward digital slavery and bondage. With this in mind I should accept the anti-Russian militias being formed and manned by so-called Patriotic volunteers are recruiting from latter day Quixotes and Ahabs as noted. To support the Azoz Battalions as freedom fighters is simplistically myopic at best. The tradition of Fillibusters is obviously still alive and still providing pawns for political masters.

  12. Suzanne says:

    Zelensky must be feeling his oats. Asking for immediate EU membership and a no-fly zone. What could go wrong?

    Finland and Sweden brushing off Russian threats. For some reason the bear doesn’t scare them any more……

    • rho says:

      The much more interesting question is: What could go right for him, or Ukraine, or anyone, if he successfully goads the USA into a direct war with Russia by imposing a no-fly-zone over Ukraine?

      That’s the most harebrained proposal since Hillary Clinton suggested the same thing for Syria. Maybe they have the same advisers.

  13. Babeltuap says:

    All these NATO countries sure do talk a lot of smack with no formidable militaries. I bet Georgia is wondering where was all this when they got invaded. They didn’t even get clutched pearls..meh.

    He doesn’t even want the country. It looks like just the shale oil in Donetsk and that canal unblocked drying out Crimea. They can either give it up or start giving up their youth to the bloodlands once again.

    • Pat Lang says:

      This is not about economics. This is about “Holy Russia.”

      • Bill Roche says:

        Did someone recently say KISS? Straight talk is best. Holy Russia requires the restoration of all the Russias. W/O that, Russia dies. Success in Ukraine will lead else where. I always thought Putin looked Finnish. I wonder if the Finns agree.

  14. JMT says:

    The Ukrainians use Russian equipment and in some cases Russian tactics. Most of Ukrainian air assets were hidden prior to the invasion. Many near primitive air fields. Combined with the mobility of S-300 and BUK systems, it’s going to take a little time to achieve total air superiority.

    The real war hasn’t started yet, all Russia has done so far is raid, probe and position. I don’t think they have any intention on taking Kiev by force, just pressure it enough to draw in defenses from other areas.

    The number one priority is to get that big chunk of Ukrainian military dug in around The Donbass kettled up. Once that happens the war will begin in earnest.

  15. BW says:

    Can anybody give an objective appraisal as to the CURRENT state of play regarding Nazi sympathisers in the Ukraine indicating, if relevant, their geographic location.

    Putin keeps mentioning the ‘Nazi’ word. I would like to understand what role it truly plays in this conflict.

    kind regards

    • Leith says:

      Brian –

      Putin keeps yelling about Banderistas. Undoubtedly referring to the Galician, Stepan Bandera, a collaborator with the Nazis. Although he did work with the Nazis, his Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) fought against both the Wehrmacht and the Soviet Army and were responsible for the mass murder of Poles and Jews. After WW2 the UPA continued a guerrilla war against the Soviets for five more years. Bandera was never a citizen of Ukraine. He was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and became a de facto Polish citizen when he was nine years old in 1918 when his home province was given to Poland (by Versailles I presume?). He was poisoned in 1959 by the KGB.


      There are surely many in the far west of Ukraine that even today consider him a martyr.

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