Kyiv, Ukraine (May 26, 2023): Ukrainian forces shot down ten missiles and 25 drones launched by Russia overnight in attacks on the cities of Kyiv and Dnipro and eastern regions, Ukrainian officials said on Friday.
The Ukrainian air force said it had shot down 10 missiles fired from the Caspian Sea, 23 Iranian-made Shahed drones and two reconnaissance drones, according to US-based news agency Reuters.
A total of 17 missiles and 31 drones had been launched starting at about 10 pm local time on Thursday, the Ukrainian side claimed.
The attacks continued until the early hours of Friday with several drones and missiles hitting the targets in Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk. The officials have not confirmed any deaths so far.
“It was a very difficult night," Serhiy Lysak, the Dnipropetrovsk regional governor, said on the Telegram. "It was loud – the enemy launched a mass attack on the region with missiles and drones. Dnipro has suffered.” Lysak said several infrastructures were damaged by the attacks, including civilian houses, cars, and companies, including a transport company and a gas station.
US Says Allies Will Unite to Train Ukrainians on F-16 Jets
European allies are developing a coordinated program to train Ukrainian forces on the F-16 fighter jet, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday.
Austin said the allies recognize that in addition to training, Ukraine will also need to be able to sustain and maintain the aircraft and have enough munitions.
But Pentagon leaders warned that it will be a costly and complex task and won't be a magic solution to the war.
"The Russians have a thousand fourth and fifth-generation fighters, so if you’re going to contest Russia in the air, you’re going to need a substantial amount of fourth and fifth-generation fighters," said Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Providing 10 F-16s could cost $2 billion including maintenance, according to Milley.
He said F-16s have a future role as part of Ukraine's air capabilities, but it's “going to take a considerable length of time to build up an air force that’s the size and scope and scale that would be necessary.”
The US's European allies have been vocal in their support for the fighter jet training in recent days.
German Chancellor to Talk to Putin 'in Due Course'
The German chancellor Olaf Scholz said he plans to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin soon to explore a variety of topics, including halting the war in Ukraine.
Olaf also held out the prospect of resuming contact after a near-total breakdown in relations since the Ukraine war.
“My last telephone call was some time ago,” Scholz told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper in an interview published on Friday. “But I plan to speak to Putin again in due course.”
The overnight attacks by Russia on Ukraine are a clear sign that the war is not going as well for Russia as they had hoped. The fact that Ukraine was able to shoot down so many missiles and drones is a major setback for Russia.
The decision by the US and its allies to train Ukrainian forces on F-16 jets is a major escalation of the conflict. It is a clear signal that the West is not going to back down in its support for Ukraine.
The planned talks between the German chancellor and the Russian president are a sign that there is still hope for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. However, it is important to remember that Putin has shown no signs of being willing to compromise.