Amid a wave of Russian missile attacks rocking Ukraine, Russia has allegedly caused ripples by deploying 46 Iskander missile launchers along its border with Ukraine.
This was stated by Vadym Skibitskyi, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) at the Ukrainian Defense Ministry at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) annual meeting, local Ukrainian media outlet Ukrinform reported recently.
“For more than one and a half years of full-scale war, Moscow has not achieved its strategic goals – neither the full occupation of Ukraine nor the full occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” he said. Some sources on X further noted that the number of missiles assembled could reach 92 cruises, ballistic, or nuclear missiles.
The report comes after the Ukrainian military said over the weekend that Russia had used an Iskander-K missile system to attack the city of Kryvyi Rih. According to a statement released by Kyiv’s General Staff on the morning of September 9, Russia carried out 13 attacks on Ukrainian sites on the previous day, including Iskander missiles.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force Command, Yuriy Inhat, said on September 8, “Preliminary information indicates that Iskander K may have been used in Kryvyi Rih, whereas multiple-launch rocket systems likely struck the northern and eastern oblasts. The experts can conclude when the wreckage is found on the spot.”
"Russia has deployed 46 launchers of the Iskander missile complex along the border with Ukraine," Deputy Head of the State Security Service Vadym Skibitskyi said.
He added that these complexes are aimed at civil infrastructure objects. pic.twitter.com/WGGbX98PBf
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) September 10, 2023
At the time, the spokesperson also warned that the Russians could use ballistic missiles, S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, and Iskander cruise missiles with K markings that can be launched from a close range in frontline regions. However, which missile variant is now at the Ukraine border hasn’t been specified.
For perspective, the Russian Army uses the Iskander-M, a short-range ballistic missile system. It typically transports cruise missiles with a maximum range of 400 kilometers. However, it also has a secondary capability to fire the 9M728 intermediate-range cruise missile, which is when it becomes the Iskander-K.
Ukrainian intelligence 🇺🇦:
For the first time since the beginning of the war, Russia has deployed 46 Iskander missile launchers along the Ukrainian border and the number of missiles assembled could reach 92 cruise, ballistic or even nuclear missiles. pic.twitter.com/QFDQvMGE2E
— Sprinter (@Sprinter99800) September 10, 2023
These have a smaller payload but a significantly greater range. The system is known as Iskander-K after it is equipped with cruise missiles. The word “cruise” or “Krylataja” is represented by the letter “K” in the designation.
Russia caused international outrage by transferring its nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to neighbor and ally Belarus. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced in early April that the Iskander-M tactical missile system capable of carrying conventional and nuclear missiles had been transferred to the Belarusian Armed Forces.
The deployment is significant as Russia has deployed nuclear-capable weapons outside its borders for the first time since the collapse of the former Soviet Union (USSR). It has caused a furor among Ukraine and its NATO allies, who have constantly accused Russia of nuclear saber-rattling.
The number of Iskander-M deployed in Belarus was not disclosed by either Putin or his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko. However, both sides announced that Belarusian pilots and missile crews were trained to use them and that Soviet-era facilities in the country were prepared to receive them.
However, even as Russian forces continue to deploy Iskander launchers along Ukraine and fire these ferocious ballistic missiles on infrastructure targets inside Ukraine, the latter has been making concerted attempts at tracking down and destroying these launchers by dispatching its drones.
Ukraine Is Hounding Iskander Launchers
The Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) announced that the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are making constant efforts to search for Russian operational-tactical missile systems (OTRK) Iskander in the special operation zone, using drones and satellite systems. The announcement added that their efforts had been ineffective, TASS News Agency reported.
The Ministry published footage of the ORTK launching missiles in the Northern Military District. The caption accompanying the video said, “The enemy is trying to track down the Iskander continuously. Day and night, using drones, satellite surveillance systems, Western-made radar stations, and sabotage groups. Our intelligence officers are fed false target data. All to no avail.”
🇷🇺 Footage of the combat operation of the Iskander operational-tactical missile system in the Northern Military District zone#VeracityNews #UkraineRussiaWar #ukrainecounteroffensive #Ukraine #Russia #ukrainewar pic.twitter.com/vPcOSBvMa8
— Veracity News (@VeracityNewss) September 11, 2023
Earlier reports had signaled that Ukraine was using satellites to geolocate Russian weapon systems, after which it dispatched drones armed with explosives to obliterate the system. However, Russian forces have notably been able to jam most of these drones, thwarting most, if not all, of these attacks.
In some instances, the Ukrainians do manage to get through. In June, for example, Ukrainian forces destroyed at least two prized Russian TOS-1A thermobaric rocket launchers. At the time, it was reported that Ukrainian troops used precision-guided munitions. However, with the extensive use of drones observed now, it could be likely that Ukrainian drones are on the prowl for Iskander launchers.
The Iskander complex has two types of missiles: the cruise R-500, which can automatically hug the terrain, and the quasi-ballistic 9M723, which has electronic warfare modules for radio interference and the capacity to control the entire flight path.
The one feature that makes this weapon system even more formidable is that it is seamlessly integrated into a networked system of sensors and rapid-strike missiles, enabling swift and coordinated attacks on targets throughout the theater of operations.
Last week, some unverified reports also suggested that Ukrainian forces had been victorious in targeting a Russian military production factory that produced components used in Moscow’s favorite Iskander missiles. However, the same wasn’t officially confirmed by the RuMoD.
Moscow’s forces have consistently relied on the Iskander missile system to carry out precise strikes on Ukrainian targets. On its part, Ukraine’s resolve to hunt down the Iskanders seems justifiable given that these cutting-edge missiles, which are difficult to intercept, have wreaked havoc on Ukrainian cities and its civilian infrastructure since the early days of the invasion.
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