The attackers had left a sign on the asphalt of the territory, suggesting they were members of Alpha, Russia’s elite special forces unit, he said. He showed a photograph on his cellphone of a chalked sign on the asphalt with the symbols “A” for Alpha and a “Z,” the letter used by the main Russian battle group fighting in Ukraine. The sign was two yards wide, he said, possibly intended to be visible from the air.
After that battle on Feb. 26, the Ukrainians spotted scouts conducting reconnaissance around the perimeter of their bases, but the Russians did not mount any further attacks. Then, about a week ago, they disappeared altogether.
Inside the bases, the effort was underway to repair and reactivate some of Vasylkiv’s air defenses damaged the first night.
The airstrikes were “very painful but not deadly,” said Konstantin, an air defense serviceman who spoke on condition that only his first name be published, with no mention of his rank.
Buildings and equipment were damaged, but they managed to salvage a working system within days, Konstantin said. “If we have two destroyed cars, we can build one,” he said.
Nevertheless, Ukraine’s air defense equipment dated from the 1970s and 1980s, and was far less sophisticated than the systems being used by the Russians, he said. A single missile would show on the Ukrainian radar, but when they shot it down, he said, they found a second missile was behind it that would hit the target.