Ukraine shoots down up to 70 percent of air attacks

Ukraine: Russian soldiers abandon kit near Kherson

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Media outlet The New Voice of Ukraine, citing news website Army Inform, reported Major General Mykola Zhyrnov as saying the country’s air defences down between 50 percent and 70 percent of missile attacks on Ukrainian positions and civilian areas. He warned Kyiv could not make sure its air defences would be 100 percent effective due to a lack of reconnaissance, aviation and anti-aircraft missile systems.

In comments translated into English, Major General Zhyrnov is quoted as saying: “An analysis of Russian air-missile strikes shows that from 50 to 70 percent of enemy missiles are shot down by air defences – both aircraft and anti-aircraft missile units.”

On Kyiv’s missile systems not being effective against every Russian attack, he added: “Basically, these are Soviet systems, which do not have the same efficiency and reliability as the air defence equipment of NATO partner states.”

He warned that as long as Russia has missile and air weapons, there would be no way to eliminate the threat of enemy attacks from the sky.

Major General Zhyrnov said: “But it can be stated that the enemy cannot use its air strike capability with impunity, nor can they ensure the effectiveness of their missile strikes.”

His comments came ahead of Ukraine making its boldest claim yet of success on the battlefield in its week-old counter-offensive against Russian forces in the south.

After days of refusing to give details about their new offensive, Ukrainian officials posted an image online of three soldiers raising a flag over a town in Kherson, a southern region occupied by Russia since the early days of the war.

The image of the flag being fixed to a pole on a rooftop, reportedly in Vysokopyllya in the north of Kherson, was released as President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Ukrainian forces had captured two towns in the south and one in the east. He did not identify the locations.

After months of enduring punishing Russian artillery assaults in the east, Ukraine has at last begun its long-awaited counter-attack, its biggest since it drove Russian forces away from the outskirts of Kyiv in March.

Kyiv had kept most details of its new campaign under wraps so far, banning journalists from the frontline and offering little commentary in public, saying this was needed to preserve tactical surprise.

Russia has publicly said it has repelled assaults in Kherson.

In a rare acknowledgment from the Russian side that the Ukrainian counter-offensive was spoiling Moscow’s plans for territory it has seized, TASS news agency quoted a Moscow-installed official in Kherson as saying plans for a referendum to annex the region to Russia had been put on hold due to the security situation.

Mark Hertling, a retired former commander of US ground forces in Europe, said Kyiv’s aim appeared to be to trap thousands of Russian troops on the east bank of the vast Dnipro River, destroying bridges the Russians now use for supplies and would need to make their escape.

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Mr Hertling tweeted Russia had left “a force in Kherson, with a river at their back and limited supply lines” with Ukraine hitting them with “precision weapons, confusing a Russian force that already has very low morale and poor leadership.”

With fighting shifting to southern Ukraine, attention has focused in recent weeks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, captured by Russia but still operated by Ukrainian engineers and hooked to Ukraine’s power grid.

Both sides accuse each other of risking nuclear catastrophe by shelling near the plant. Russia has resisted international pleas to withdraw its forces from the facility and demilitarise the area.

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission reached the plant last week after crossing the frontline.

Ukraine’s operator Energoatom said today (September 5) two IAEA experts would stay on indefinitely at the plant.

The final working reactor block at the plant disconnected from Ukraine’s grid after Russian shelling disrupted power lines on Monday, Energoatom said.

The plant’s territory has been regularly shelled over the past month, with Kyiv and Moscow trading blame.

Kyiv has also repeatedly accused Moscow of basing troops and military equipment at the power station.

Two reactors at the plant remain in use, but are currently disconnected from the grid.

They have suffered repeated disconnections due to shelling over the last fortnight.

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