SBU Scores Hit on Kremlin’s S-400 Anti-Air System in Mainland Russia

Ukraine’s Intelligence Agency Strikes a Devastating Blow to Russian Air Defense

A Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile launching system on display at an exposition in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)
A Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile launching system on display at an exposition in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow. Photo: Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

Belgorod, Russia – October 4, 2023: In an audacious move, Ukraine’s national intelligence agency, the SBU, executed a precision strike with drones on a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system deployed near the city of Belgorod, marking the first-ever successful attack on this formidable air defense system within mainland Russia. The daring operation, which took place on Wednesday, represents a significant blow to Moscow’s air defense capabilities.

The SBU’s strike drones targeted various components of the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft complex, including truck-mounted radars, a mobile command post, and multiple missile launch platforms. This remarkable achievement comes on the heels of another successful operation where Ukraine disabled an S-400 unit near the city of Yevpatoria in Russia-occupied Crimea.

The S-400, with a price tag of $1.2 billion, has long been touted by Moscow as the “world’s best” air defense system. However, recent developments have shown its vulnerability to Ukrainian attacks. This latest strike, the second in a month, prompted an SBU source to suggest that Russia should consider renaming the complex.

The Belgorod strike resulted in a series of explosions and damage, with Russian social media reporting up to 20 explosions in and around the city. While Russian authorities downplayed the impact, Ukrainian forces managed to breach Russia’s air defenses for the first time since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Ukraine launched a wave of drone strikes with a total of 31 aircraft targeting Russia’s Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk regions. Despite the Kremlin’s assertion that all Ukrainian drones were shot down, it is clear that Ukraine is intensifying efforts to neutralize Russian S-400 systems, creating vulnerabilities in Russia’s air defense network.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has employed a systematic approach to target and destroy Russian S-400 systems. This strategy aims to weaken Russian air defenses, making way for follow-up cruise missile strikes. Notable strikes include an attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and the destruction of an S-400 system near Olenivka.

The significance of this achievement lies in the potential to create openings in Russia’s western air space defenses, allowing Ukraine to carry out more extensive strikes within Russian territory. Kyiv, however, has assured the manufacturers of the Storm Shadow cruise missile, France and Britain, that these weapons will not be used against targets in mainland Russia.

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This bold move by Ukraine’s SBU underscores the evolving dynamics of the conflict and the increasing effectiveness of Ukrainian forces in countering Russian military capabilities.

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