Russia ‘Revenges’ Attack On Naval Base; Storms Ukrainian Airbase Holding Storm Shadow Missiles?

Days after the Ukrainian Air Force destroyed the Russian landing vessel Novocherkassk at a naval base using its long-range Storm Shadow missile, Russia attempted to avenge the big loss by striking Ukrainian airfields housing the missile carriers.

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The Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) announced that Russian troops struck Ukrainian airfields with air-launched missiles. It emphasized that the airfields targeted were home to the Ukrainian aircraft that are carriers of the British Storm Shadow missile, state agency RIA Novosti reported. 

“On December 31, 2023, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation struck with high-precision long-range air-based weapons on the infrastructure of the airfields on which the Storm Shadow cruise missile carrier aircraft were based,” the RuMoD said in a statement announcing the attack.

The statement further noted that “the goal of the strike has been achieved, all objects have been hit.” However, the Russian MoD did not provide any significant evidence to support its claims.

Although the Russian media did not mention the airbase and aircraft that it targeted in its aerial missile attack, the Su-24MR Flanker was modified to carry the long-range Storm Shadow missiles.

This is not the first time that Russia has singled out these missile carriers. A month after the Ukrainian Air Force started employing the previously forbidden long-range missiles to strike territories under Russian control, the Russian forces launched cruise missiles at the Viysk Airfield near the Khmelnytskyi region, which was home to the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade flying Sukhoi Su-24 M, Sukhoi Su-24 MR, and Aero L-39C Albatros aircraft. 

Although Russian air defense systems started shooting down the Storm Shadow missiles shortly after a few initial shocks, the ones that managed to get through caused massive damage.

Hence, the Russian troops have resorted to targeting the source, i.e., the Su-24MR, before they could take off and drop missiles on Russian military assets.

The latest attack comes days after the Ukrainian Air Force destroyed the Russian landing vessel Novocherkassk at a Russian naval base in Feodosia, Crimea, in the early hours of December 26.

Several videos showing a large explosion were published online, with military watchers calling it a massive loss for Russia and a significant win for the Ukrainian military, which was ending the year with a failed counteroffensive.

The attack, seen as another big blow to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) headquartered in Crimea and a humiliation for Moscow, could be the latest trigger behind Russian cruise missiles aiming for storm shadow carriers at Ukrainian airfields. The Russians, however, did not specify which missiles were used to launch the particular attack.

The Storm Shadow Missiles Are A Nightmare

One of the first and biggest attacks carried out using Storm Shadow happened in June 2022 when two Ukrainian Storm Shadow missiles hit the Chongar and Sivash bridges that link Crimea and the Kherson area.

The Storm Shadow missiles that struck the bridges were likely part of a saturation strike aimed at overwhelming Russian air defenses. The Chongar Bridge is a double-track railway bridge and a road bridge on the E-105 highway, while the Sivash Bridge is an old, unused bridge over Sivash Bay.

The attack signaled a change in Ukrainian tactics. The Ukrainian missile strike aimed to degrade the Russian Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) between Crimea and the Kherson region. Analysts then noted that the Ukrainian counteroffensive would benefit from these long-range missiles.

Ukraine’s military endeavors in the Black Sea have expanded to include targeting vital Russian facilities, evidenced by previous strikes on the Russian Black Sea Navy headquarters in Sevastopol and the shipyard in Kerch. A case in point is the September Storm Shadow attack on Sevastopol.

Su-24 Storm Shadow
File Image: Su-24 with Storm Shadow Missile

The Russian MoD announced on September 13 that ten cruise missiles and three unmanned boats were fired by the Ukrainian military against the Sergo Ordzhonikidze shipyard in Sevastopol, which Russia uses as a maintenance base for its Black Sea Fleet. The attack damaged two Russian warships, including a diesel-electric submarine “Rostov-on-Don” and the large landing ship “Minsk,” which caught fire.

A few days later, photos emerged of the damage caused to the Russian submarine Rostov-on-Don. A set of photographs posted by an independent investigative organization named ‘Conflict Intelligence Team’ (CIT) showed massive damage to the exterior of the Rostov-on-Don submarine. The CIT team mentioned that the submarine had received two hits, one of which was not visible in the satellite images. Experts said the vessel was damaged and unlikely to be restored, as previously reported by EurAsian Times.

In another Storm Shadow attack carried out in early November, the Ukrainians targeted the Russian Askold missile carrier, with Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communications (StratCom) concluding that the vessel had been “damaged beyond repair.”

Now, the December attack that took down a significant landing dock has served as a reminder to Russia that its Black Sea fleet is in the line of fire and the Storm Shadows pose a constant threat.

It is presently claimed by both the UK and Ukraine that 20% of Russia’s Black Sea Naval Fleet has been destroyed since the invasion’s commencement. The majority of Russia’s boats have been destroyed by the West’s long-range Storm Shadow missiles.

Military experts and Ukrainian officials believe that due to these attacks, Russia’s capacity to conduct missile strikes from the water has been weakened, and the likelihood of it launching an amphibious operation from the sea has also decreased.