Fishermen film low-flying cruise missiles from Caspian to Black Sea

Two cruise missiles soaring at low altitude caught the attention of some unsuspecting fishermen. Engaged in their favorite pastime, one fisherman, hearing an unusual sound, instinctively grabbed his phone. Little did he know, he was about to capture what might be the most compelling footage of a cruise missile since the onset of the war in Ukraine. 

Fishermen film low-flying cruise missiles from Caspian to Black Sea
Video screenshot

As the noise grew louder, the anticipation climaxed when the first missile swooped by at a remarkably low altitude, startling the fishermen. Yet, the most astonishing moment was still ahead. The second missile passed even closer, leaving the fisherman in sheer awe.

The Caspian Sea has long served as a launch site for cruise missiles. Typically known for the Kh-101 AS-23 “Kodiak” and Kh-555 AS-15 Kent air-to-surface cruise missiles from the Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber, this recent event showcases an unexpected twist in the region’s military activities. 

Russian submarine K-561 Kazan strikes in Barents with Kalibr
Video screenshot

Reports have emerged confirming that Russia is conducting long-range strikes on Ukraine using ships from its Caspian Flotilla with Kalibr cruise missiles. This claim is supported by a video filmed by Russian fishermen in the Caspian Sea, which captures the flight of two such missiles.

Interestingly, the absence of a turbojet engine under the fuselage—typically found in Kalibr missiles—hints that these are indeed sea-launched missiles, rather than air-launched Kh-101 cruise missiles. 

The exact date of this video remains unknown, but according to the Ukrainian Air Force command, the most recent Russian missile attack using Kalibr cruise missiles occurred on July 8. During that attack, 14 missiles were launched, 12 of which were intercepted and shot down.

Russia upgrades the 3M-54 Kalibr missile for better combat use
Photo: YouTube

Interestingly, the range of Kalibr cruise missiles is estimated to be between 1,500 km and 2,500 km. Even at the lower end of this range, these missiles can strike significant areas from the Caspian Sea, including sizable portions of Ukraine. 

Adding to this, the Russian Federation’s Caspian Flotilla includes three small Project 21631 “Buyan-M” missile ships, each capable of launching up to 8 Kalibr missiles. This flotilla is primarily based at the port of Kaspiysk in the Caspian Sea. 

Furthermore, Russia can transfer vessels from its Black Sea Fleet to the Caspian Sea. This transfer is feasible via waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea through the Sea of Azov, the Don River, the Don-Volga Canal, and the Volga River. 

Russia upgrades the 3M-54 Kalibr missile for better combat use
Photo: Russian MoD

You might be interested to know that Project 21631 Buyan-M ships from the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy can navigate this route without needing any equipment removal. However, Karakurt-class corvettes [Project 22800] with a deeper draft than Buyan-M vessels may only be able to pass through after dismantling some equipment.

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’.

Top 5 of the best and deadliest Russian cruise missiles
Kalibr cruise missile, photo credit: Vitaly Kuzmin

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 deliberate 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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