Britain Warns That Russia Is Using More Dangerous, Less Accurate Weapons – After failing to take control of Kyiv in March and redeploying troops to Ukraine’s Donbas region, Russia is now allegedly resorting to the use of more deadly (and less precise) weapons to make “grinding gains” in the east.
Both Ukrainian and British officials warned over the weekend that Russian troops are increasingly using weapons designed to cause greater numbers of casualties to take control of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts in the east. Should Russia succeed, it would give Russian President Vladimir Putin the victory he needs to save face on the world stage and justify the catastrophic damage done to the Russian economy through Western sanctions.
According to the British Ministry of Defence, Russian forces recently began using heavy 1960s-era anti-ship missiles in Ukraine. The missiles have primarily been used to destroy aircraft carriers when fitted with a nuclear warhead, but have been used in ground attacks and fitted with conventional warheads to create maximum damage.
“Since April, Russian medium bombers have likely launched dozens of 1960s era Kh-22 (NATO designation, AS-4 KITCHEN) air-launched, heavy anti-ship missiles against land targets,” an intelligence update from the British MoD reads.
“These 5.5 tonne missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead. When employed in a ground attack role with a conventional warhead they are highly inaccurate and can therefore cause significant collateral damage and civilian casualties,” the update continues.
Experts 19FortyFive spoke with aren’t surprised by Russia’s recent move to using such an older system built for other domains of warfare. “Nothing at this point Russia does surprises me anymore,” explained Harry J. Kazianis, President of the Rogue States Project and an expert on military doctrine and strategy. “Putin will do whatever it takes to be able to claim some sort of ‘win’ in Ukriane. And that means using any weapons he can to achieve such an aim.”
British defense officials added that Russia is likely resorting to the use of these older weapons systems not just to cause greater damage, but because its military is “running short of more precise modern missiles.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have begun to use NATO-standard weapons systems donated by Europe and the United States.
Russia Accused Of Using Flamethrowers In Luhansk
Serhii Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, revealed over the weekend how Russian forces have resorted to the use of incendiary weapons in villages in the Luhansk Oblast.
While technically legal, the use of flamethrowers is generally frowned upon – and the use of the weapons in Ukrainian villages flies in the face of claims by top Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov that Russian soldiers are not targeting Ukrainian residential buildings and areas.
“At night, the enemy used a flamethrower rocket system – many houses burnt down,” Haidai said in a Telegram post shared on Saturday.
The claim has not been independently verified so far, but the term “flamethrower rocket system” is likely a reference to Russia’s well-documented use of thermobaric missiles.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.