Sources confirmed to Newsweek that the long-range missiles supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces would present difficult new challenges to Russian security. Last week, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told UK lawmakers that Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles “are entering or are already inside the country.” He did not confirm how many missiles would be sent to Ukraine in total.
Ukraine has repeatedly requested long-range strike capabilities, but Kiev’s Western backers have been reluctant to provide weapons that could be perceived as offering or increasing Ukraine’s ability to strike inside Russian territory. Is.
However, Ukraine insists it will not use such capabilities to attack targets within Russia’s borders. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in early February: “We will not use weapons supplied by foreign partners to fire on Russian territory.”
Military expert David Hambling said that while Ukraine’s access to information resources is partly provided by the West, “there is a high likelihood that Ukrainian commanders will have excellent information on how to target their new missiles for maximum effect.” Is.”
The Storm Shadow has a better chance of hitting a specific target than most basic military drones, he told Newsweek, and “will certainly be reserved for very high-value targets.”
The air-launched missiles have a range of over 250 km, according to the manufacturer. MBDA Missile Systems said of the Storm Shadow, “They are designed to meet the demanding requirements of pre-planned strikes against high-value fixed or stationary targets.”
Russia inspired missiles
Wallace told the British Parliament, “Russia must recognize that it is through its actions that such systems are being provided to Ukraine.” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak previously indicated that the UK would be “the first country to provide long-range weapons to Ukraine.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last Thursday that the donation of the Storm Shadow missiles “will require an adequate response from our military.”
The estimated range of Storm Shadow missiles is greater than that of weapons systems that the United States has donated to Ukraine, including extended-range versions of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) system or HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System or Rocket System). including missiles provided by Washington. for High Mobility Artillery).
However, there is some question about what the actual range of Storm Shadow missiles will be based on models and various reports, David Jordan, co-director of the Freeman Air and Space Institute at King’s College London, told Newsweek on Thursday.
Earlier this year, the United States indicated that it would send small-diameter ground-launched bombs to Ukraine, which Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said in February would give Ukraine a “long-range missile”. ability”. The range of these bombs is about 150 km.
Jordan explained that the effectiveness of these weapons would ultimately depend on how many Storm Shadow-type missiles Ukraine receives. Nevertheless, they are “a considerable advantage to the Ukrainians as it gives them capabilities, especially in terms of range, which they did not have before.”
What will Ukraine attack?
Jordan said the Kiev army would be able to hit hardened targets including underground command bunkers, logistics centers and airfields with high accuracy. They would also provide the capability to attack the Kerch bridge, which connects mainland Russia to the Crimean peninsula.
With weapons like JDAMs and HIMARS, Storm Shadow means Russia will have to “think more deeply about the range with which the Ukrainians can retaliate,” Jordan explained.
Experts say the range of the storm shadow also creates new headaches for Russian air defense organization in the coming weeks and months.
Hambling said the missile is, for all intents and purposes, “untrackable” and “highly unlikely to be intercepted” by Russian air defenses. Russia would be forced to move resources such as ammunition stockpiles out of range of these new weapons, or “hundreds of tons of valuable artillery would disappear in a series of giant fireballs.”
While Ukraine lacked long-range weapons, the Russian military had the “luxury” of knowing when they would be out of range of Ukrainian air-dropped weapons, Jordan explained. Therefore, Russia may reduce its air defenses around the command base and other logistics bases.
“The more missiles are in the air, the more defensive systems [y] More defensive missiles should be fired at them in an attempt to shoot them down,” explained David Jordan.
Moscow’s military will now have to consider all the targets Storm Shadow missiles can hit and then how to defend against them, experts said.
Storm shadow open door
This could mean moving air defense systems from the front line, or elsewhere in Russia, to cover areas already targeted. Jordan explained that if these defenses were removed from the front lines, it provided a new advantage for the Ukrainian Air Force.
The move raises questions about whether other NATO countries, such as the United States, will provide long-range weapons such as the ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) to Ukraine. So far, Washington has refused to donate these missile systems to Ukraine, which could have a range similar to that of Storm Shadow.
In March, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Defense One website that the United States “has relatively few ATACMS. We have to make sure we keep an inventory of our own ammunition as well.”
But there is a political element to the move, Humbling said. In contrast to Western hesitancy to provide long-range missiles, the announcement suggests that “mindsets have changed, and indeed the level of support the West is willing to provide is less flexible.”
Hambling said, “A small number of missiles from Britain may not make a huge military difference, but it could signal the arrival of more and heavier weapons from NATO countries”.