“It’s very likely that the Russian Aerospace Forces have modified how they’re conducting operations,” said Michael Kofman, the director of Russian studies at CNA, a Virginia-based think tank. “There is either attrition in a significant percentage of the Ukrainian air defenses, or they’re being a lot more careful about how they’re carrying out these sorties.”
The increase in Russian flights can likely be attributed to several factors, analysts said.
While there are gaps in information, it appears that Ukraine has concentrated the high-power air defenses it has in a handful of locations, including the capital, Kyiv, and the second-largest city, Kharkiv, Kofman said. That has left Russia more free to carry out an increasing number of airstrikes around the southern port city of Mariupol, where pitched urban combat is ongoing and Russia has its sights set on what would be its first strategic victory in the war.
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