Crimea's S-400 Defenses Fall in Minutes to Ukraine's ATACMS Missiles Attack

Russia installed advanced S-400 systems in Crimea a few days ago, and already this morning they were destroyed by the Ukrainian attack

by Sededin Dedovic
Crimea's S-400 Defenses Fall in Minutes to Ukraine's ATACMS Missiles Attack
© Handout / Getty Images

Three Russian land-to-air systems, which were supposed to protect Crimea, were destroyed within minutes in a barrage of American-made missiles. This is the latest humiliating blow for Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the British "Telegraph." The strikes were part of a carefully planned and systematic campaign designed to dismantle Russia's air defense network and make Crimea untenable for Russian forces.

The campaign, which has intensified in recent weeks, pits Ukraine's arsenal of Western missiles—including American ATACMS ballistic missiles and British "Storm Shadow" cruise missiles—against Russia's latest defenses.

Russia's "incredible weaponry" has failed

Moscow's vaunted defense appears increasingly inferior to Ukraine's Western weaponry—even though many of these are significantly older. "None of our missiles were intercepted by the enemy's ‘very effective’ air defense," the Ukrainian General Staff said on Monday morning after the attack.

Two days later, a salvo of 12 ATACMS missiles removed another two Russian S-400 systems and a radar installation. Russian rhetoric claims all this weaponry is incredible. But, in reality, when you put all these things together in war, it’s not just a question of technology but also the ingenuity and imagination of the people using it, Matthew Saville, Director of Military Sciences at the RUSI institute, told the "Telegraph."

"Russian S-400 vulnerable to older Western weaponry"

The S-400, which entered service in 2007, is one of Russia's most advanced air defense systems, worth over a billion dollars.

But recent Ukrainian strikes have shown that it remains vulnerable even to older weapons like the ATACMS, in service with the US military since 1986, or the "Storm Shadows," dating from the mid-1990s.

U.S. Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) firing a missile into the East Sea during a South Korea-U.S.</p><p>joint missile drill
U.S. Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) firing a missile into the East Sea during a South Korea-U.S. joint missile drill© Handout / Getty Images

"People have been praising Russian air defense for years.

What we’ve actually seen over a period of time is that they didn’t protect the Syrians in Syria. They didn’t protect the Iranians in Iran, and now they haven’t protected the Russians in Crimea," Saville said.

Western cruise missiles are harder to intercept than their Russian counterparts, and their stealth technology sets them apart, Fabian Hoffman, a research fellow focusing on missile technology at the University of Oslo, told the "Telegraph." "Storm Shadows" fly at low altitudes, with their carefully crafted shapes making detection by Russian radars difficult.

This means they can fly past air defense systems undetected—as shown by footage from Crimea. When approaching the end of their flight, the missiles steeply climb before diving towards their targets. However, these capabilities are not the only thing distinguishing Ukrainian attacks; there’s also the quick thinking of its soldiers, the "Telegraph" notes.

"There’s just much more planning around attacks with 'Storm Shadows.' Ukrainians really plan these routes, they are really meticulously designed to bypass the bubbles of Russian air defense. We’ve also seen that Russian operators are not very skilled...

They are currently very methodical and systematic in targeting these S-300 and S-400 air defense systems. And they know it’s the smart thing to do. This is exactly what NATO would do," Hoffman said. According to Saville, Ukrainian long-range missile strikes are accompanied by a large number of attacking drones, which provides "enormous numerical weight" against which Russia finds it difficult to retaliate.

"When you combine it all together, the weight of fire coming in—probably from multiple directions—means you can execute these strikes," he said. "Ukrainians are now launching attacks in all directions. The Russians have significant stockpiles of various weapons, but now they will have to make tough decisions about priorities," Saville said.

Russia intensified attacks during a peace conference in Switzerland

During the two-day peace conference on Ukraine in Switzerland, which ended on Sunday, Russia intensified military attacks on Ukraine, according to Kyiv.

"The enemy is intensifying its offensive and assault operations, seeking ways to break through our defenses and displace Ukrainians from their positions," the Ukrainian General Staff reported on the situation on the ground Sunday evening, according to dpa.

According to the report, the number of battles rose to 88. Most of the battles are taking place in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine—36 in total. The report adds that 25 attacks were repelled, but 11 are still ongoing.

The Russian military is attempting further breakthroughs, particularly near the city of Pokrovsk, it said. The Russian military also said it tried ten times to attack Ukrainian positions on the front line simultaneously in the north and south—in the Lyman area and around Kurakhove.

Russian air forces dropped heavy bombs on defensive positions, it said. These reports could not be independently confirmed. Since last fall, Ukraine has been on the defensive because the West delayed shipments of weapons and ammunition.

However, the recent delivery of weapons supplies has stabilized the situation on the front, limiting Russian territorial gains while also enabling strong and effective Ukrainian attacks that have destroyed significant resources for Russia, especially in Rostov.

Ukraine Russia