Russia may regain its dominance in the Ukrainian sky, it has "12 times more planes"
Russian fourth-generation Su-35 fighter jets are strengthening the "dominance" of the Russian Federation in the combat zone, which can be a worrying change for Ukraine and its partners.
According to a senior Ukrainian official who spoke to ABC News, newer generation fighter jets are giving Russia "increasing dominance" in the skies over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.
ABC News noted that it is a potentially worrying shift for the United States and its allies since Russia’s inability to achieve total air superiority throughout the war has been vital to Ukrainian successes on the battlefield.
In a briefing with journalists last week, a Western official downplayed the concern, stating that Russia's ability to control the skies has been limited by air defense and surface-to-air missiles. "We’re not seeing a huge change in that situation," the official said.
The senior official in Kyiv said Russia had replaced older aircraft models with its more modern Su-35. According to the official, the Su-35 is equipped "with very effective radar and long-distance rockets," and Russia is using these aircraft to attack Ukrainian jets in the air and for ground support operations.
The official added that Ukraine "does not have capabilities" to counter this threat.
"[Russian] air superiority is a real risk," the official said, adding that more air defense systems from the United States and its allies are currently "priority No. 1" for Ukraine.
Two other Ukrainian officials confirmed that Russian dominance of the skies over the combat zone was a top issue, with one official claiming Russia has "12 times more aircraft" than Ukraine.
"This is a problem. We keep telling the Americans that in the end, there is no other solution than to give us [Western] fighter jets," one official said.
The Biden administration has so far resisted calls to supply Ukraine with F-16s. Asked if he was open to the idea, President Biden said "no" in January.
The senior Ukrainian official who spoke to ABC News suggested there was now more of an acceptance in Kyiv that US military aid should be focused on other priorities, such as air defense systems and the provision of artillery ammunition.
The official recognized that the supply of modern fighter jets and the missiles to go with them would require "a huge amount of money," and it could only come from the United States at the expense of other types of military aid.
Retired Col. Steve Ganyard, also an ABC News contributor, said he believes Russia’s air superiority may largely come down to numbers. "Sometimes quantity can be better than quality. Being short on aircraft and anti-aircraft systems puts Ukraine at an increasing disadvantage," Ganyard said.
Russian forces attacked Kherson Oblast 20 times: 4 casualties reported
Russian occupiers carried out 20 attacks on Kherson Oblast throughout 26 March, wounding four people.
Over the past day, the enemy carried out 20 attacks, launching 97 shells and rockets from heavy artillery and Grad multiple-launch rocket systems. Four people have been wounded.
Russians attacked Avdiivka, Krasnohorivka, and Kurakhovo: buildings were destroyed, and one person was killed.
The Russians continued attacking Donetsk Oblast, with one person killed, two injured, and several buildings destroyed due to the strikes.
The Russians launched a missile attack on Avdiivka yesterday morning on the Donetsk front, damaging a hotel and the court building. During the day, the suburbs of Kurakhovo were attacked six times; there was a lot of noise in the Ocheretyne, but no casualties were reported.
In just one day, the Russians killed one resident of Donetsk Oblast and wounded two more.