Residents film smoke billowing after drone attack over Moscow
Dozens more Russian military targets are at risk as Ukraine pursues a new strategy aimed at depriving Vladimir Putin’s troops of vital war equipment, weapons experts told Daily Express US.
This week, in the biggest wave of attacks on Russian soil since Putin first launched his illegal invasion, drones rained down across six regions of the country.
But unlike previous strikes, targets included military bases and planes, a microelectronics plant and a fuel depot. These are all vital for fuelling Putin’s war machine.
Their destruction appears to be part of a new and deliberate strategy to obliterate weapon supplies in the heart of Russia as Ukraine scrambles for victory, analysts say.
Sam Bendett, an expert on Russian military technology at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, told Daily Express US: “The latest mass-scale strike on Russia is indicative of how Ukraine should be attacking Russian facilities and assets.
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“While Moscow is a definitive demonstration of Ukrainian capabilities and it is certainly terrifying for people in Moscow and can certainly slow down business and government developments, it ultimately doesn’t affect the outcome of the war.”
This shows Ukraine is now capable of striking targets “deep inside Russia”, Bendett added.
He said: “But attacking military bases, military assets, weapons, production facilities, oil facilities and other assets that actually aid the war effort are very effective. All the strikes before were demonstrative of Ukraine’s ability to reach deep inside Russia.
“Ukraine’s latest strike is a culmination of that. Now they can hit a lot of targets in the European part of Russia where the bulk of its industries and populations and infrastructure are located to try and go after the very war effort itself.”
In fact, according to a list of sanctioned Russian weapons manufacturers, these kinds of sites appear to be strewn all across the enormous territory.
Russian military planes were destroyed by strikes at Pskov airfield earlier this week
Bendett confirmed to Daily Express US that any company on the list is a potential target. Several examples have been included on the map above.
He explained: “A lot of these were moved away from the borders of potential conflict, meaning away from the West. Many of these enterprises are scattered throughout, with several military facilities located around and beyond the Urals.”
Bendett warned that Rostec, Russia’s biggest defence industrial conglomerate, has thousands of subsidiaries located in both eastern and western Russia. These include some of the “larger plants that have to assemble things”.
But the weapons expert did warn it may not be possible to “completely shut down” Russia’s weapons industry.
Ukraine claims it can strike targets deep inside Russia
However, a “sustained, continuous effort will really impact daily production and daily deliveries”, he said.
This is especially the case “if Ukraine targets infrastructure nodes, oil facilities and other major sites that all those technologies and systems to be shipped to Ukraine, for example”.
Alexander Lord, Lead Europe-Eurasia analyst at Sibylline, said the Ukrainian strategy is “pretty clear”.
He told Daily Express US: “They are trying to degrade Russia’s ability to launch large-scale missile strikes against Ukraine. This has been a priority for the Ukrainians but up until recently their ability to actually undermine this capability has been fairly limited.
“But what we are seeing now over the last couple of months is undoubtedly the expansion of Ukraine’s long-range capabilities, namely drones.”
A Russian microelectronic plant was hit in a strike
However, Kyiv could have a huge task on its hands.
This week, Ukraine’s military intelligence arm, also known as the GUR, released its assessment of Russian missile stockpile estimates for the first time since January.
Worryingly, it claimed Russia retains around 270 Iskandr missiles, an increase from 126 since January.
Russia also maintains 140 3M-14 Kaliber cruise missiles and around Kh-101, Kh-555 and Kh-55 cruise missiles, the assessment claimed.
Lord commented: “It is very difficult to estimate Russian missile stocks and there have been various assessments over the last year or so which have incorrectly predicted that Russia would not have been able to sustain the number of missile strikes they actually have been able to.
The biggest strikes on Russian soil since the war began were launched earlier this week
“They clearly are able to source the electronics necessary to at least replenish stocks, if not grow the stockpile.”
But he added: “Ukraine is going to show every sign that it will continue to ramp up attacks inside Russia for as long as it can.It is prioritising the domestic production of these drones so it can continue this.”
Victor Tregubov, a Major in Ukraine’s Armed Forces, says that Russia’s prized assets are highly vulnerable due to the vast size of the country and its poor placement of air defence systems.
He told Daily Express US: “The Russians moved all their aircraft defences to protect the capital and their forces on occupied territories, leaving local assets vulnerable, and they paid for it.
“A big territory can also be a big disadvantage.”
Now, unconfirmed reports have suggested the Russians are moving air defence systems from an area in the Far East to western European Russia as the west comes under mounting pressure.
Kyiv has also boasted of a new long-range weapon that can hit targets up to 700km away.
President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Telegram: “The [range] of our weapons, new Ukrainian weapons, is 700km [and] the task is [to extend that] further.”
It came after a strike at a Pskov airbase around 700km inside Russia left four military planes beyond repair.
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