Ukraine fires 12 ATACMS at Crimea, Russia downs 6 in defense

The Ukrainian armed forces have reportedly launched an assault on Russian outposts located on the Crimean Peninsula. According to Ukrainian sources, a dozen ATACMS missiles, supplied by the United States, were deployed against three air defense units of Russia last night. 

An air defense unit of the Southern Military District, from the Russian Ministry of Defense, located in the village of Donskoe, Simferopol Region, fell victim to the missile attack. This led to an ensuing fire within the military unit’s premises. The assault also targeted Russian military sites, specifically those belonging to the 31st Air Defense Division in the Black Sea and Saki region, with similar missile strikes. 

In an official response, Russian authorities confirmed the assault. According to their report, they intercepted six of the ATACMS missiles. Along with these missiles, they also claim to have shot down ten Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles and a pair of ‘Hammer’ guided air bombs, made in France. Reports circulated by pro-Russian bloggers suggest that the missile assault might have originated overnight from Kherson, a region in southern Ukraine.

Reports reveal that there have been no aggressive actions by the Ukrainian military forces towards the Kerch Bridge, an essential link between mainland Russia and Crimea. On the contrary, sources have noted that traffic on the bridge was temporarily halted earlier today due to fears of a potential Ukrainian attack. “Vehicular movement on the Crimean bridge has been temporarily obstructed,” stated a Telegram channel that regularly provides updates on the status of the Kerch Strait bridge at 1:25 a.m. local time. Nonetheless, normal traffic flow has since resumed. 

The Kerch Strait Bridge acts as a primary supply route for Russian troops. Prior aggressions on the extensive 19-kilometer [nearly 12-mile] road and rail bridge by Ukraine were documented in October 2022 and again in July 2023. The bridge’s undeniable role in facilitating Moscow’s military activity in southern Ukraine is evident. In their pursuit to reclaim the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, Kyiv has hinted about possible future attacks on this vital structure. 

Vladimir Rogov, the chairman of a noteworthy pro-Russian group called ‘We Are Together With Russia’, reported this evening’s activities. He communicated, “The Ukrainian armed forces’ fighters initiated a missile attack on the Republic of Crimea this evening.” He continued, elucidating, “In response, Russian air defenses were mobilized over Dzhankoy and Simferopol. Preliminary information suggests our defenders have performed commendably.”

M39A1 ATACMS for Ukraine are officially expired but still usable
Photo credit: Medium

According to updates shared by the SHOT Telegram channel, a Russian outlet reputable for its timely military updates, there have been reports of explosions resonating from the city of Simferopol in Crimea and Dzhankoy, which is known to be home to a military airport operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Russia promised a response

Recent developments from the Kremlin suggest that if the US decides to equip Kyiv with the advanced ATACMS long-range guided missile systems, Russia may respond by pushing Ukrainian forces further back, thus extending the territory Russia considers as the “neutral zone.” This Russian sentiment gained traction following the US decision in October to supply Kyiv with an ATACMS missile variant capable of striking targets 100 miles away. 

m142-himars-155-mm-artillery
Photo credit: Twitter

Emerging reports point toward Congress approving a bill to assemble a new package possibly containing an extended-range missile with a striking radius of up to 186 miles. Last Monday, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, confirmed Kyiv’s receipt of these long-range ATACMS missiles, expressing his gratitude toward Washington.

MGM-140B

The updated version of the ATACMS missile system, the MGM-140B, is a spectacular example of innovative engineering. It has been deftly designed to deliver payloads over an impressively extended distance of up to 300 kilometers, signifying a notable leap forward in the evolution of the system. 

Despite rumors, US may not provide Ukraine with 300km-range ATACMS
Photo credit: Wikipedia

In terms of physical dimensions, the MGM-140B exudes a sense of compact neatness, stretching only about 4 meters, with a modest diameter of about 610 millimeters. However, this seemingly small size conceals a formidable powerhouse in long-range operations. 

Constructed with resilient, yet lightweight materials, the missile combines an array of composites and alloys. These robust materials ensure that the missile can withstand the rigorous conditions of the launch process and the inevitable stresses of flight. 

When it comes to operational reach, the MGM-140B truly shines, boasting an awe-inspiring capability of hitting targets up to 300 kilometers away. This extraordinary range is attributed to a robust solid propellant rocket motor, supplying the necessary thrust to propel the missile over these remarkable distances.

Russia announced that it had destroyed two US-made HIMARS MRLs
Photo credit: Wikipedia

MGM-140B’s key role

According to insights from specialists at the Institute for the Study of War [ISW] in Washington, UK military intelligence, and informed commentators within Russia, the tides of war could be turning due to Ukraine’s recent procurement of American ATACMS long-range missiles. Intriguingly, these exceptional weapons have made their presence known, reportedly targeting the Berdyansk and Luhansk airfields as of October 17. 

In the preceding year, rumors were rife suggesting the liberation of Kherson from Russian military control could largely be attributed to Ukraine acquiring American medium-range GMLRS missiles. Deployed from the HIMARS platforms, these missiles were instrumental in the obliteration of Chernobayevka airport near Kherson, which had fallen into enemy hands. The mention of this airport stirs up humor and memes even to this day, following last year’s fall events. It serves as an ominous reminder and metaphor in the wake of the October 17 assaults for various military-centric Telegram channels loyal to the Kremlin, including the respected Rybar channel with its alleged Russian connections. 

Official: Video shows the first use of M142 HIMARS by Ukraine
Photo credit: Own sources

Experts reason that Ukraine’s recent acquisition of long-range missiles could have profound effects that extend beyond simply war zones. One plausible scenario forecasts Russia finding it necessary to move their aircraft, helicopters, ammunition storage, and command centers a significant distance away from the frontlines. This strategic shift could afford the Ukrainian army precious extra time, slow down the response of Russian forces, and disrupt their ammunition resupply routes. This strategic edge could potentially mark a turning point for the Ukrainian army.

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

On February 21, 2022, Russia stated that its border facility was attacked by Ukrainian forces, resulting in the deaths of five Ukrainian fighters. However, Ukraine quickly dismissed these allegations, labeling them as ‘false flags’.

US-supplied to Ukraine ATACMS M39 Block I destroyed a Russian S-400
Photo credit: Telegram

In a notable move on the same day, Russia announced it officially recognized the self-proclaimed areas of DPR and LPR. Interestingly, according to Russian President Putin, this recognition covered all the Ukrainian regions. Following this declaration, Putin sent a battalion of Russia’s military forces, tanks included, into these areas.

Fast forward to February 24, 2022, global headlines were dominated by a significant incident. Putin commanded a forceful military assault on Ukraine. Led by Russia’s impressive Armed Forces positioned at the Ukrainian border, this assault wasn’t spontaneous but a premeditated action. Despite the circumstances resembling a war, the Russian government refrains from using this term. They’d rather refer to it as a “special military operation”.

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