Ukraine's recent two-front counteroffensive has dealt a heavy blow to the Russian military. Contrary to Western military orthodoxy, air superiority was not a prerequisite for battlefield success. Ukrainian forces advanced rapidly despite the absence of aerial cover and fire support from high-end fighter jets and bombers. Some observers may conclude that the air domain and airpower is less relevant to future wars.
Far from irrelevant, control of the air domain was the battle's center of gravity. By adopting an air denial strategy, that is, maintaining an air defense in being to keep Russia's manned aircraft at bay and under threat, Kyiv thwarted Russia's ability to not only to ascertain the disposition of Ukrainian forces but also to respond rapidly to events once it became obvious where the counterattacks were taking place. Quite simply, air denial was a prerequisite for Ukraine's battlefield success.
Critically, air denial enabled Ukraine to survive and regroup. Ukraine traded time for space to grind down the Russian offensive. As Clausewitz wrote, "the defensive form of war is not a simple shield, but a shield made up a well-directed blows."