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Russia Using ‘Mighty’ S-400 Air Defense Missiles To Strike Ukraine; Kyiv Helpless Against Ballistic Missiles – Spokesperson

Russia is using its S-300 and S-400 air defense missiles more frequently to carry out attacks on ground targets, which may indicate that Moscow’s stockpiles of ballistic missiles are depleting, Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman claimed on January 16. 

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Yuriy Ihnat, citing Ukrainian intelligence, claimed that Russia has fewer than 100 modern Iskander ballistic weapons. He alleged that Russia was instead employing its S-300 and S-400 missile to strike Ukraine.

During a press briefing at the Ukraine Media Center in Kyiv, he said that Moscow is attempting to exploit their potential since many S-300 missiles have already been manufactured. Russia manufactures these missiles, and they are currently being used in this manner, Ihnat said. 

Western systems are required to destroy such missiles; alternatively, S-400s must be eliminated directly at the locations from where they are launched, he said. 

The S-400 is one of the most modern air defense missile systems, capable of bringing down enemy fighter planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, and incoming missiles at a distance of up to 400 kilometers.

In December 2022, the British Ministry of Defense stated that Russia has probably depleted a substantial chunk of its inventories of SS-26 Iskander short-range ballistic missiles, which can deliver a 500-kilogram warhead up to 500 kilometers (310 miles). 

Weapon shortages could become major concerns for both sides in a conflict that has lasted almost 11 months and seems certain to continue. The S-300 system is part of a family of surface-to-air missiles produced by the Soviet Union.

Following years of development, it was first put into service in the late 1970s. Both Ukraine and Russia employ them. However, the latter has significantly more systems in its arsenal.

According to Ihnat, Russian forces prefer to deploy the more plentiful S-300s against ground targets. However, S-400s are also used in this capacity. He said the S-300s could be employed against ground targets up to 150 kilometers away, posing a threat to Ukraine.

“These are S-300 systems; they need to be destroyed either with HARM missiles or in some other way on their positions,” he said. 

S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system
File Image: S-400

Commenting on the Kh-22 missiles, Ihnat mentioned that Russia has roughly a hundred in stock. The Russians have already fired more than 210 of these missiles since the full-scale conflict broke out in February 2022, and not a single one has been intercepted.

“Modern Western systems (such as Patriot, SAMP-T) capable of shooting down ballistic missiles can destroy the Kh-22, but it is impossible to do this with the means available in Ukraine,” Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman noted. 

Moscow Attacking With S-300 & S-400 Missiles

In the past, there have been recorded cases of the Russian military using S-300 and S-400 missiles for ground strikes. 

Ukrainian media has frequently reported that Moscow has been attacking cities near the frontline with the 5V55 missile launched from the S-300 for several months. But Russia is now using the more recent and potent 48N6DM launched from an S-400.

Defense Express reported that S-400 48N6DM anti-aircraft missiles struck Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on January 14. Most likely, the S-400 missiles fired on January 14 came from the Belarusian airfield of Zyabrovka.

The S-300 and S-400 are both made to hit targets in the air. However, it is said that Russia had modified these air defense systems to strike ground targets.

Moscow used these missiles on a routine basis to target Ukraine’s southeastern regions, launching them from seized Ukrainian territory on cities in Ukraine’s Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kherson oblasts.

Serhiy Zhurets, a military expert, claims that the attack on January 14 is the second time Russia has fired S-400 missiles at Kyiv. After an attack on December 31, 2022, the debris of the missile was first discovered in Protasiv Yar and a hotel in central Kyiv. 

If Russia continues to launch S-400 missiles from Belarusian territory, important Ukrainian towns such as Lviv, Rivne, Lutsk, and Zhytomyr, in addition to Kyiv, will remain in danger. 

Ukraine cannot currently intercept ballistic missiles, which descend at high speeds nearly vertically downward. Even if air defense succeeds in intercepting this missile, the payload may still land on the ground and explode.

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