Russia ‘Shoots Down’ 6 ATACMS Missiles Targeting Crimea; Were Secretly Shipped To Boost Ukraine’s Firepower

The Russian military has successfully intercepted the Long-Range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) attack aimed at Crimea, according to the Russian authorities.  

Vladimir Rogov, chairman of the We Are Together with Russia movement, disclosed this development on April 30. According to Rogov, Ukraine’s armed forces launched an assault on Crimea utilizing ATACMS missiles under the cover of darkness.

“Ten Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles, six ATACMS tactical missiles manufactured by the United States and two guided ‘Hammer’ aircraft bombs manufactured by France were shot down by air defences,” the ministry said.

“Last night, Russian authorities activated air defenses over Dzhankoy and Simferopol as Ukrainian militants conducted a missile strike at the Republic of Crimea,” Rogov announced on his Telegram channel. 

He also stated that the Ukrainians utilized several ATACMS ballistic missiles in an apparent effort to strike at civilians on the peninsula. Overall, Russia claimed shooting down six ATACMS launched by Ukraine over the last 24 hours.

This development follows recent reports revealing that the United States had quietly shipped long-range missiles to Ukraine to use against Russian forces. These long-range ATACMS can strike targets up to 300 kilometers. 

Ukraine has already deployed these long-range missile systems in attacks against Russian targets, striking a military airfield in Crimea and Russian forces in another occupied area in recent days.

For a considerable period, Washington hesitated to supply Ukraine with extended-range weaponry due to apprehensions that they might be utilized to target locations deep within Russian territory, potentially exacerbating the conflict.

However, Washington ultimately agreed, and President Joe Biden authorized their delivery as part of a substantial $300 million aid package.  White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan recently said, “We’ve already sent some, we will send more.”

Meanwhile, the decision to maintain secrecy surrounding the shipment was motivated by Ukraine’s request to safeguard operational security. Precise details regarding the quantity of ATACMS dispatched remain undisclosed. 

On the other hand, Moscow has downplayed the significance of these deliveries, asserting that they will not alter the course of the ongoing conflict. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov emphasized the direct involvement of the US in the conflict and suggested that the expanded reach of supplied weapon systems would only exacerbate challenges for Ukraine. 

Ukraine Hits Crimea With ATACMS 

Ukraine’s quest to bolster its military capabilities with advanced missiles has sent ripples of concern through Russia, particularly in the context of Crimea. Equipped with the powerful ATACMS, Ukraine poses a significant challenge to Russian interests in the region. 

Crimea’s strategic importance cannot be overstated; it hosts vital assets of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, including air bases, command centers, arms depots, barracks, and an array of defensive installations.

The familiarity of Ukrainian forces with every inch of the peninsula adds another layer of threat, leaving no sanctuary for Russian troops stationed in Crimea. 

Russia, acutely aware of the looming danger, has openly acknowledged the vulnerability posed by the long-range ATACMS missiles to Crimean cities and infrastructure, including the critical Crimean Bridge, which serves as a vital lifeline connecting the peninsula to mainland Russia.

Georgy Muradov, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea, recently expressed concern, stating, “We understand that missiles can hit both Crimean cities and the Crimean Bridge, our lifeline connecting the peninsula with mainland Russia. It is no coincidence that the Kyiv regime, which we characterize as neo-Nazi, has received Washington’s approval. We do not doubt the reliability of our air defenses, but the new threat is obvious.”

Image courtesy: Lockheed Martin via US Army

Following the recent delivery of the long-range ATACMS, Ukraine wasted no time in showcasing its efficacy. In an operation on April 17, the missiles were deployed to target the Dzhankoi air base in northeastern Crimea. 

The strike damaged Russian helicopters and compromised the integrity of the S-400 strategic surface-to-air platform, recognized as Russia’s most advanced air defense system. Additionally, the assault impacted an aerospace surveillance complex utilized as a command-and-control center.

While the United States has remained tight-lipped about the specifics of its support to Ukraine, reports suggest a significant influx of long-range ATACMS missiles. 

Estimates vary, with sources indicating that over 100 of these missiles have already been delivered and more are scheduled for delivery. The prospect of Ukraine receiving up to 200 of these missiles, or possibly even more, from US stocks has added to Moscow’s mounting unease.