Russia's failure thus far to win complete control of Ukrainian airspace has been a surprise, given Russian military strength and the importance of dominating the skies.
A possible explanation is that President Vladimir Putin built his war strategy on an assumption that Ukrainian defenses would easily fold. That would have allowed Russian forces to quickly capture Kyiv, the capital, while also crushing Ukrainian forces in the east and south without having to achieve air superiority. But that didn't happen, as the Associated Press reported.
Still, the war's overall trajectory five days into the fighting seems to favor the Russians, at least militarily.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Monday, “We think that they’re a few days behind where they expected to be." Kirby said, “It’s clear, yes, the Russians have had their own challenges and they have met resistance we don’t believe they fully expected.”
Philip Breedlove, a retired Air Force general and former commander for NATO forces in Europe said, “I am pleasantly surprised that the air defense capability of Ukraine, even though diminished, has carried on as long as it has.”
By Monday, the Russian military hadn't been successful in capturing any major Ukrainian city, grounding the Ukrainian airforce, or advancing as planned.
The has European Union imposed a blanket flight ban on Russian planes, confirmed by European Union Commission head Ursula von der Leyen, according to the BBC.
Leyen said, "We are shutting down EU airspace for Russian-owned, Russian-registered or Russian-controlled aircraft."
This would put a strain on travel by powerful and wealthy Russian oligarchs who will not be able to land, take off from or fly over any European Union nation. The ban includes airspace over the United Kingdom as well.
In the United States, Delta Air Lines announced that it would be suspending an agreement on booking flights made with Russia's Aeroflot.