On the 24th, the Russian Army was divided into three groups, and they launched a large-scale attack from Odesa in southern Ukraine, Kharkiv in the northeast, and from Belarus to Kyiv or Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
Based on the social media images and videos and lack of official visuals from the chaotic Russian-Ukrainian battlefield, which is sometimes even contradictory, it is still vaguely possible to analyse the weapon systems employed by the two sides.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said on the 24th that it used precision-guided weapons to destroy the military infrastructure, air defense facilities, military airfields and aviation units of the Ukrainian Army.
A video purportedly taken by citizens of Kyiv on the Internet shows the wreckage of a missile with the typical features of the air intake of the Russian KH-31P anti-radiation missile (Х-31; AS-17 ‘Krypton) scattered on the streets of Kyiv. This cruise missile with a flight speed greater than Mach 3 was developed by the Russian Nova Design Bureau to counter the radars of air defense systems such as the Patriot and Aegis of the United States. KH-31 primarily targets the radar of the air defense system.
A couple of videos have shown cruise missiles, estimated to be 3M-54 Kalibr.
At the beginning of the war, the Russian Army used anti-radiation missiles to suppress and destroy the Ukrainian air defense and command system, a standard procedure in modern warfare.
The Ukrainian Army has limited long-range air defense systems in service, only a few early S-300 air defense systems, and a severe lack of modern radars to provide target guidance.
Ukraine’s most advanced long-range air defense radar is the 79K6 radar and its improved 80K6KS1 radar delivered to the Ukrainian Army in 2017 and 2021, respectively. Both can guide the “Buk-M1” air defense missile to the air target. Ukraine has not effectively used this radar, and Buk systems are seen destroyed on the roadside on social media. Visually, these systems were destroyed by Russian helicopters while being transported. Ironically, in the Russian-Georgian conflict in 2008, Georgia shot down a Russian Tu-22 reconnaissance plane using the “Buk-M1” air defense missile from Ukraine.
It is claimed that the two radars newly equipped in Ukraine are modern 3D phased array surveillance radars, and they use a mobile deployment mode, which can be quickly erected and evacuated. Therefore, it is reasonable for the Russian Army to use supersonic anti-radiation missiles to suppress them.
Various videos and images on social media show that the Russian Army has fielded T-72, T-80 and T-90 series main battle tanks on the ground battlefield. Other vehicles include 2S3 type, 2S19 type 152 mm self-propelled howitzers, Tornado-S multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), MT-LB amphibious auxiliary armoured tracked vehicle, T0S-1 heavy flamethrower system, and multi-type infantry fighting vehicles.
As per the open-source information, the First Guards Tank Army of the Russian Army had already been deployed in the border areas of Russia and Ukraine, and the unit is equipped with T-72M and T-80 series main battle tanks. Although we get an impression that Russia is committing its older armour fleet to the battle, it should be noted that the Russian Army continued to improve the T-72M main battle tank and some batches of T-72M tanks are more advanced than the early T-90S tanks.
One video shows that the Russian Army has sent the latest T-90M Proryv-3 main battle tank to the Russian-Ukrainian border., which is the latest.
For long-range fire support, the Russian Army has deployed “Iskander-M” tactical ballistic missiles with a range of 300 kilometres, “Iskander-K” missiles with a range of 500 kilometres and “Tornado” long-range rocket launchers.
There are no visuals to prove that the First Guards Tank Army has fielded its most advanced 2S35 self-propelled howitzer, but the gun may have been deployed against Ukraine. The gun has a maximum range of 70 kilometres and a very high level of automation. It is designed to fire 152 mm large-calibre artillery shells at the target with a speed of 20 rounds per minute, an extremely long range.
The main equipment of the Ukrainian Army is “same-origin” as the Russian Army, with T-64, T-72 and T-80 / T-84 series main battle tanks. Other equipment includes 2S7 type 203mm self-propelled howitzer and 2S19 Type 152mm self-propelled howitzer, a small amount of “Tornado” long-range rocket launchers and SS-21 tactical ballistic missile, etc. Unlike the Russian weapons, the Ukrainian ones have not been modernised, so their performance is obviously inferior to similar Russian weapons.
At present, the main weapon used by the Ukrainian Army to resist the torrent of Russian armour and the main battle tank is mainly a large number of individual anti-tank missiles. Ukraine has thousands of Soviet-made anti-tank missiles, but they are outdated and unreliable due to poor maintenance. The Ukrainian military is well aware of this. The military supplies that the Ukrainian military seeks help from the West are dominated by various anti-tank missiles, including the US-made “Javelin” and the British-made NLAW anti-tank missile. They are ‘fire and forget’ and attack the tank from the top. But since the Russian Army’s battalion-level battle groups are clearing the way with artillery first, it is debatable how useful these individual weapons are when blocking the flood of armour in the plains.
The Russian Aerospace has deployed Su-24 fighter-bombers, Su-25 attack aircraft and Su-30M fighter jets at several airports in the Russia-Ukraine border area. The MiG-31K fighter jets have arrived in Syria recently to assist the Russian Navy in containing NATO’s aircraft carrier formation in the Mediterranean.
The Ukrainian Air Force has a limited number of Su-24M fighter-bombers, Mig-29 and Su-27 fighter jets. But these are unmodernised fighter jets and cannot match the Russian Aerospace Force’s superior fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles. On the 24th, after a Su-27 fighter jet of the Ukrainian Air Force entered Romanian airspace, it landed on the Romanian Air Force base under the surveillance of Romanian F-16 fighter jets.
Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 UAVs have not been seen on social media. Russian forces and the militia have claimed to shoot down about 6 of them.
The Ukrainian Navy, which is mainly based on patrol boats, is only symbolic. There are no visuals of the Ukrainian Navy’s mosquito fleet in operation. It is generally accepted that the Russian Black Sea Fleet has mastered complete sea control in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.