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What is the point of russian missiles with a «nuclear warhead simulator»

What is the point of russian missiles with a «nuclear warhead simulator»

❗️Mass media spreads information that during a massive missile attack on November 15, the Air Force of Ukraine shot down an Kh-55 cruise missile, where instead of a warhead, a block was «screwed on» that acted as a simulator of a nuclear warhead.

🔸CBS News Ukraine previously confirmed information about russia’s use of such missiles. However, the spokesman of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stated that it isn’t possible to confirm or deny russia’s use of a cruise missile with a simulated nuclear warhead during the attack on Ukraine and urged to wait for the conclusions of the experts.

🔻In the 1980s, the USSR created a number of missiles capable of carrying a nuclear charge to be launched from Tu-95SM and Tu-160 strategic bombers (X-55, X-102), which were later modified into «non-nuclear» ones (X- 555, X-101). The Kh-55 missile is capable of carrying a 350-kiloton warhead with a strike radius of up to 15 km. For comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, which killed 146,000 people, had a power of 15 kilotons. According to U.S. intelligence, russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons mounted on various types of missiles, from those typically used to deliver conventional explosives to cruise missiles and artillery shells.

❓What is the reason that forces russia to fire its «nuclear» missiles without a nuclear warhead? Military experts identified several such reasons.

🔸First of all, this is connected with the shortage of cruise missiles to carry out the kremlin’s command regarding massive air attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.

British intelligence suggests that russia is forcibly removing nuclear warheads from old cruise missiles and striking Ukraine with these carriers. The Kh-55 was originally developed precisely as a carrier of a nuclear warhead (the so-called special warhead), which is structurally different from the usual one. That is why it is not technically possible to replace the nuclear warhead with a conventional warhead in the Kh-55. In this version, the russian military was forced to use the Kh-55 with an empty «block» for the strike.

🔸The data released by the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, O. Reznikov, show that russia has almost no Iskanders (only 13% of the original number) and Calibers (37%), but the russians have used only half of the arsenal of X-101 and X- 555. In the war against Ukraine, the russian troops were even forced to use missiles of the Luna-M complex, adopted by the USSR in 1964, the deviation from the target is 700 meters. The depletion of russian stocks of long-range missiles, in addition to information from Ukrainian and Western intelligence, is also confirmed by the peculiarities of missile attacks by the russians, who stopped hitting barracks and military facilities with high-precision missiles.

🔸Secondly, experts assume that the missile was not intended directly for a strike, but could be used as a decoy as an additional means to exhaust the means of Ukrainian anti-missile defense. By launching «dummies», russia tried to overload Ukrainian air defense so that air defense systems could not shoot down such a large number of air targets at the same time and «miss» really dangerous missiles.

🔸Thirdly, it is possible that moscow specifically used such a missile to test the reaction of the world community to the fact that a nuclear ammunition carrier was actually used, but in a non-nuclear version. This is a certain signal from putin to Western countries that the kremlin is ready to use tactical nuclear weapons in case of further assistance to Kyiv. After all, in the case of the continuation of the liberation of the occupied Ukrainian territories, the use of small nuclear ammunition will fully correspond to the russian military doctrine, of course, in the kremlin’s understanding. No wonder, shortly before the invasion of Ukraine, putin put russia’s nuclear forces on «special combat readiness», conducted high-profile nuclear exercises, and recently declared his readiness to use all available means of defense «if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened». Patricia Lewis, head of the International Security program at the Chatham House, suggests that russia is more likely to use tactical weapons against Ukraine because it does not consider it a crossing of the «great nuclear threshold». The former head of the Joint Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Great Britain, General Richard Barrons, believes that moscow’s plans for the occupied territories of Ukraine increase the risk of a russian tactical nuclear strike.

🔻To sum up, it can be stated that against the background of the desire to tip the scales in one’s favor, the threat of the kremlin using tactical nuclear weapons remains high. The USA and Europe should not allow such a scenario, but not at the price of concessions to the kremlin. On the contrary, the West should guarantee long-term support for Ukraine and emphasize the consequences of nuclear escalation for russia.

  • 1 December, 2022

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