Russia fires missile blanks to deplete Ukraine’s air defense stocks

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The missile lands after destroying a power line with a section of the power line trapped in its tail, near the Russian border in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, October 21, 2022. Photo/REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

WASHINGTONRussia has fired an empty cruise missile designed to carry a nuclear warhead against targets in Ukraine to try to deplete Kiev’s air defense ammunition stockpiles.

A senior United States (USA) military official said on Tuesday (11/29/2022). This move can be seen as a clever Russian tactic to weaken Ukraine’s air defenses.

The US official, who declined to be named, was asked about a Nov. 26 assessment by British military intelligence that Russia “probably” switched nuclear warheads from cruise missiles and fired unarmored munitions at the Ukraine.

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The intelligence update cited open-source images showing the wreckage of an air-launched cruise missile against Ukraine that appeared to have been designed in the 1980s as a nuclear delivery system.

Britain’s MoD said a reactor could replace the warhead, a system that would still generate damage through the missile’s kinetic energy and unused fuel.

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When asked about the statement, the US military official told Pentagon reporters, “This must be something they are trying to do to mitigate the impact of the air defense systems Ukraine is using.”

This is the first comment from a US official on the valuation.

The Pentagon said the spike in Russian missile attacks on Ukraine was in part designed to deplete Kiev’s air defense munitions supply and Moscow could eventually gain skies over Ukraine.

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