Washington (AFP) – Russia bombed Ukraine This week, military observers are left wondering how many and what types of missiles Russia still has in its arsenal. In other words, how long can the Kremlin sustain this barrage?
Some analysts believe that Russia may be running out of its stockpile of long-range precision weapons as the nearly eight-month-old war drags on and hits its economy with sanctions, forcing it to turn to less accurate missiles.
It remains unclear whether Russia has enough weapons to continue strikes against Ukraine with the same intensity that is beginning to appear October 8 explosion on the Kerch bridge Crimea, annexed by Moscow.
A look at what is known – and unknown – about the Russian arsenal:
What does Russia say?
Russian officials say the military has sufficient stocks of long-range missiles and factories are producing more, dismissing Western claims that their supplies are dwindling.
The Russian military did not say how many missiles it fired and how many were left, and there is no data to independently assess the state of the Russian arsenal.
President Vladimir Putin recently chaired a meeting to discuss plans to boost arms production, but avoided details outlined in the introductory notes televised.
What has Russia relied on recently?
When Russian military unleashed missile attacks across Ukraine As of Monday, it has used the full range of its long-range precision weapons: strategic bomber Kh-55 and Kh-101 cruise missiles, sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles, and land-based Iskander missiles.
Russian forces have also repeatedly used S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems to strike ground targets, which some observers have taken as a sign of Russia’s weapons shortage.
Ian Williams, a fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Russia’s reuse of its air defense and anti-ship missile systems indicates it has run out of more advanced missiles intended to strike ground targets.
Strikes from a Russian S-300 air defense system “do not have the ‘gravity’ to hit hard military targets and don’t have the accuracy in the ground attack role until they hit the building you want to hit,” Williams said. “This is really just shooting them into the ether and seeing where they land.”
However, their use can be explained by an abundant stock of outdated subtypes of these missiles, which have been replaced by more advanced air defense weapons, as well as the desire of the military to keep more expensive and advanced long-range missiles for priority targets.
While numbers are hard to come by, the way Russia uses its weapons is telling. In the last strike on Mykolaiv, a surface-to-air missile was used to hit a target on the ground.
Douglas Barry, senior fellow in military space at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, described this as “a sure sign that missile stocks are running out”.
What does Washington say?
While the Biden administration believes there is evidence that Russia has exhausted its stockpile of its most efficient weapons, US officials say there is no indication that Moscow is ready or willing to back down in its recent attacks against civilian areas in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.
It was not immediately clear what the United States believed Russia might have left. But two officials said US government analysts noted with interest that Russia used cruise missiles, not artillery, or less expensive, shorter-range missiles in the wake of the Kerch Bridge explosion.
The officials said this option could indicate that Russia is running out of cheap and reliable medium-range weapons and has trouble replenishing its stockpiles due to sanctions and supply chain disruptions.
The relative calm Kyiv enjoyed before the Kerch Bridge incident may have been a sign that Russia was trying to conserve its limited resources, according to officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal assessments of Russia’s military might.
What is behind the choice of goals?
Launching large numbers of inaccurate missiles could aim to confuse air defenses while Russia uses its best missiles for high-value targets and key infrastructure.
But Williams noted that Moscow could also act strategically, knowing its barrage You will hit civilian targets in the hope of creating panic in Ukraine He pushed Kyiv to accept a cease-fire in Russia’s favour.
“It is becoming more and more evident, they say, that cruelty is the point,” he said.
Tara Cobb Washington contributed.
Follow the Associated Press’ coverage of the war on https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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