USAF RQ-4 led ATACMS attack in Crimea with a disabled transponder

According to Russian media, an attack on the Crimean Peninsula using ATACMS missiles on June 23 was allegedly coordinated by a U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk drone. “The ATACMS missile strike on Sevastopol, which resulted in significant damage and casualties, was orchestrated by the American RQ-4B Global Hawk reconnaissance drone. This information came from data provided by observers and military sources,” reported Avia.pro. 

Su-27 blocked USAF RQ-4B Global Hawk approaching the Russian border
Photo credit: Northrop Grumman

Avia.pro also mentioned that the RQ-4B drone was approximately 200 kilometers south of Yalta during the impact. Just before the cluster munition rockets hit their targets in Sevastopol, the RQ-4B momentarily turned off its radar transponder, complicating efforts to detect and track it. “This action has led to further questions and suspicions regarding the drone’s involvement in coordinating the strike,” Avia.pro concluded.

Moscow blamed Washington

USAF RQ-4 led ATACMS attack in Crimea with a disabled transponder
Photo credit: Telegram

The Russian Defense Ministry has vowed to respond to Washington and Kyiv following Ukraine’s strike on Sevastopol using US-supplied ATACMS missiles. “The responsibility for the intentional missile attack on civilians in Sevastopol lies mainly with Washington, who provided these weapons to Ukraine, as well as the Kyiv regime, from whose territory the attack originated. Such actions will not go unanswered,” the ministry stated. 

The ministry reported that Ukraine launched five long-range ATACMS missiles armed with cluster warheads. Four of these were intercepted, but the destruction of the fifth missile in the air still led to casualties. They also mentioned that American experts adjust these missiles based on their satellite intelligence data. 

According to the Crimean Wind Telegram channel, Ukrainian forces targeted areas near Sevastopol Bay, Mykolaivka, Kazach Bay, and a beach in Uchkuevka, over which one missile was intercepted. In response to the attack, the military is actively taking measures to track down the missile-launching crew, and fighter jets were seen taking off from Belbek airport.

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

‘Everywhere’

Ukraine now can use American weapons not just near the Kharkiv border but across all border areas where it faces threats. This expansion by the U.S. is crucial for Ukraine, especially with a new Russian military buildup emerging near the Sumy region. Moreover, Russia has constructed numerous field airports close to the Ukrainian borders, from which planes launch attacks on Ukrainian targets. 

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan explained on PBS that the U.S.-Ukraine agreement now covers “wherever Russian forces cross from Russia into Ukraine to capture more Ukrainian territory.” 

The White House
Photo credit: Getty Images

While Washington permitted Ukraine to target Russia at the end of May, this was aimed at halting the Russian advance in the Kharkiv region. Sullivan elaborated on the reasoning behind this decision, stating, “It’s not about geography; it’s about common sense. If Russia is attacking or gearing up to attack from its own territory, it makes sense for Ukraine to be able to strike those forces across the border.” However, U.S. weapons cannot yet be used for long-range strikes.

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’.

Phantom skies: A U.S. RQ-4B drone was lost over the Black Sea
Photo credit: Reddit

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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