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With Western weapons on targets in Russia: how Ukraine will act

With Western weapons on targets in Russia: how Ukraine will act

Jun 6, 2024 18:54 187

With Western weapons on targets in Russia: how Ukraine will act  - 1
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Germany, the US and other Western partners have allowed Ukraine to strike targets in Russia with the them western weapons. Which targets will be prioritized and what weapons will be used?

Ukraine was given the green light to use Western weapons and to strike targets on Russian territory: after a long hesitation, Kiev received such permission from the US and Germany - for weapons provided by them. And the Netherlands and Denmark have agreed to allow the Ukrainians to use the F-16 fighter jets that they will soon provide them in this way. The permission is "within the framework of international law", that is, it is permissible in view of the need for Ukraine to be able to defend itself from Russian attacks. Western partners are not unanimous on this issue because of the Russian president's threats that he may reach out to his nuclear arsenal.

"The Patriot" from Germany against Russian aerial bombs

Berlin has provided Kiev with two Patriot batteries, which are one of the most powerful air defense systems in the world. "Now it is quite possible that these installations will be used in the Kharkiv region and over Russian territory. They are very suitable for countering the Russian planes from which the terrible guided aerial bombs are launched," German General Christian Freuding, who is responsible for the assistance provided by the Bundeswehr to Ukraine, told ARD.

The controllable bombs that the planes launch over Russian territory are particularly destructive. Moscow is increasingly using these bombs because they are much cheaper than precision cruise missiles. But because of their inaccuracy, these aerial bombs pose a huge danger to the civilian population. The largest of them destroy everything around in a radius of several hundred meters.

It will be possible to shoot down Russian planes

In an interview with DV, the expert at the European Council for Foreign Policy (ECFP) Gustav Gressel defines the ground-to-air systems "Patriot" as the key weapon provided by Germany whose extended use on Russian territory would have the greatest impact on the course of hostilities. "If these systems are used to protect Kharkiv and other border cities, they can shoot down Russian planes across the border before they can even drop their guided bombs," he noted. The military expert adds that the planes used to carry out the aerial bomb strikes are vulnerable to ground-based air defense systems such as the Patriot.

The controllables, also called planning bombs, can fly at a distance of up to 70 kilometers, aviation expert Valery Romanenko explains to DV. Therefore, if the "Patriot" are located near the Russian border, Russian aircraft would have to fly within range of Ukrainian air defense systems to drop these bombs.

"No Soviet air defense system, such as those in Ukraine, can shoot down aircraft carrying guided air bombs, because they do not have a long enough range. "The Patriot" however, they are able, as their range of action reaches 160 kilometers," Romanenko specified. And Gustav Gressel warns to refrain from too high expectations, since a number of factors play a role here, which in the end can significantly reduce the range of the missiles launched by the "Patriot".

The main problem for the Ukrainians is that they only have a few such missile launchers, a fraction of which protect Kiev from Russian missile attacks. Ukrainian President Zelensky has repeatedly said that the country needs at least 25 "Patriot" air defense systems to cover the entire territory of Ukraine. And experts point out that their most reasonable use in the conditions of a shortage of air defense systems is for the protection of large cities and key objects of the critical infrastructure.

"The Patriot" near the front line and the risks

Gustav Gressel notes that if such air defense systems are deployed near the front line, they can easily be detected by Russian spy drones, such as Orlan, and then attacked by long-range kamikaze drones. eg Lancet.

"The Patriot battery problem is that they are large and difficult to mask,'' Gressel says. And a possible loss of any of these installations would be very painful for the Ukrainians from the point of view of their high price and their extremely insufficient number.

After the arrival of the F-16 aircraft by the end of the year, they will be able to take over the security of some areas in the country and capacities will be released for the defense of Kharkiv with Patriot systems. The air-to-air missiles can effectively shoot down cruise missiles and cover significant areas. For now, the priority target of the Ukrainian armed forces remains the Russian S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missile complexes near the front line.

First destroyed target on Russian territory?

On Monday, Ukrainian military bloggers released a video showing a missile hitting a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system – probably in the Belgorod Region. After analyzing the available photo and film material from the site of the attack, experts of the specialized publication Defense Express have established that American GMLRS missiles fired from the HIMARS salvo fire system were used for the attack. These missiles are equipped with tungsten balls that scatter over a long distance when hitting the target. This makes it possible to hit several units of equipment at the same time. This probably explains why radars were also neutralized in this strike - in addition to the launchers of the S-400 battery, adds Defense Express.

Wolfgang Richter, an analyst at the Berlin-based Foundation for Science and Policy, told DV that other potential targets for strikes from across the border include transport hubs, logistics facilities and headquarters, as well as artillery positions. "If we are talking about air bases or missile launch sites, Franco-British Scalp/Storm Shadow missiles could be used. They are launched from aircraft that can approach the border," Richter noted.

Ukrainian kamikaze drone strikes?

However, the German expert warns that missile strikes with Western weapons deep in the Russian rear could lead to a direct confrontation between the West and Moscow. Therefore, according to him, this is not particularly expedient. In this regard, he recalls some successful attacks by the Ukrainians with kamikaze drones of their own production.

Gustav Gressel also considers the Russian S-300 and S-400 near the border to be priority targets. In addition to the danger to Ukrainian aircraft, these systems also pose a serious threat to the civilian population in Ukrainian cities near the border. The Russians have already used these systems several times in the "ground-to-ground" for strikes on Kharkiv. Given the ultra-high speed of these ballistic missiles and Kharkiv's short distance from the border, the devastating blasts caught the civilian population by surprise – sometimes even before the alarm goes off, the military observer notes.

Gressel also notes another important thing - that now is the time for the Ukrainians to try to destroy the largest number of targets, since it is assumed that in the coming weeks Russia will adapt to the new situation on the front that has occurred since the authorization was given for carrying out strikes with Western weapons also on Russian territory. "In the future, the Russians will no longer be so frivolous with their resources," summarizes the German expert.