Ukraine could run out of missiles for its Soviet-made air defense systems by early May, giving Russia the chance to achieve air superiority in the country, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The Journal cited some of the leaked US government documents that have appeared online. According to a Pentagon slide dated February 28, Ukraine could deplete its missiles for the Buk air defense system by April 13 and the S-300 system by May 3.
While the US and its allies have provided Ukraine with Western-made air defenses, Kyiv is still mainly reliant on its older Soviet-made equipment. According to a map from another Pentagon slide, if Ukraine depletes the systems, most of Ukraine’s infrastructure outside of Kyiv won’t have air defense protection.
The document said the number of unprotected critical sites will go from six to 40. Russia began large-scale bombardments of Ukrainian infrastructure in October 2022, causing Kyiv to deplete much of its air defense systems.
The document said Ukraine was also on track to run out of ammunition for some Western-provided air defense systems, including the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS). The latest US weapons package for Ukraine included ammunition for the NASAMS, but the munitions are being purchased for Kyiv, which means they could take months or years to be delivered.
The document suggested for a short-term solution, the US should procure more S-300 and Buk munitions for Ukraine, but most of the NATO states that possess the systems have already shipped what they have to Ukraine. A medium-term solution suggested would be to expedite the delivery of NASAMS, Patriots, and other Western systems.
In the long term, the document suggests delivering enough Western systems to cover the whole country. The leak could spur more calls in Washington and other Western capitals to send more arms to Ukraine.
US officials have told the media that the leaked documents are authentic, and the Biden administration appears to be scrambling to control the leak. According to CNN, the documents have revealed that the US is spying on Ukrainian President Vodlymyr Zelensky, and Ukrainian officials are frustrated with the leak.