The Nonstop Work of Ukrainian Air Defenses: ‘We Have No Days Off’

Riabyi and his partner, Oleg, 38, are responsible for protecting a sector of the sky measuring around 10 square kilometers outside Kyiv. When the alarm sounds, he said, they race from a base in the Kyiv area to one of a handful of secret firing positions outside the city, pull the tarp off a truck-mounted Stinger system and prepare.

“If an air target is coming close to our sector, our commander gives us command No. 1: find and annihilate,” he said, demonstrating the procedure recently at a secret location outside Kyiv.

After the team fires, their position is exposed and they have two minutes to move or risk being targeted.

On the side of the team’s truck, Ukrainian tridents mark their successes. The first two tridents represent Russian fighter jets they said they shot down during the first days of the war. They said they had since shot down six Orlan reconnaissance drones, two Russian attack helicopters, and two Iranian-made Shahed drones.

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