Espreso. Global

Russia is likely to use new Zircon missile to attack Kyiv, Ukraine creates unmanned troops. Serhiy Zgurets' column.

8 February, 2024 Thursday

Today we will talk about some details of the nighttime Russian missile attack on Ukraine. The Air Force allegedly shot down the newest hypersonic missile in the arsenal of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, and it is not a Kinzhal, but a Zircon

Russian combined attack on Ukraine

I'll start with the missile attack - what was said officially and what was left out of the official confirmation. So, on the morning of February 7, Russian troops launched another attack on Ukraine using strike drones and missiles of various types. This is, in fact, the fourth missile attack since the beginning of the year. There were explosions in six regions, and the attack was a combined one, using both Shaheds and cruise missiles. At the same time, our air defense worked quite effectively.

We saw the Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat on the air, saying that 44 of the 64 air targets were shot down: 26 of the 29 Kh-101 cruise missiles, all three Kalibr sea-launched cruise missiles, and 15 of the 20 Shaheds. Four Kh-22 cruise missiles, three Iskander ballistic missiles, and five S-300 anti-aircraft guided missiles were not shot down. These missiles were aimed at cities where we do not have air defense systems with anti-missile capabilities.

On the one hand, the attack was not too massive, because they did not actually use the maximum number of missiles that have been used since the first launches at the beginning of the year, but there were twice as many missiles as two weeks ago.

When we talk about the Kh-101 missiles, they were launched so that one of the groups was moving towards Poland, before reaching the border about 50 kilometers away, these missiles turned around and were then shot down over the western part of Ukraine. The Poles raised their fighter jets to protect themselves from the risk of a possible entry into Polish territory. It is possible that these Russian actions were intended to test the algorithms for countering Polish air defense systems.

As for the capital. There was no use of S-400 missiles in Kyiv, as was the case in previous attacks, and no North Korean KN-23 missiles were used in Kyiv, although the police have submitted photos of Kharkiv where there is evidence that two of the five missiles were allegedly North Korean KN-23s.

Next, the most important, the main touch of this attack. We are now seeing these North Korean missiles that have been transferred to the Russian Federation. US intelligence reported that up to nine missiles were used in previous missile attacks on the territory of Ukraine. So we've seen evidence in at least three cities - Dnipro, near Kharkiv, and debris in Obolon in Kyiv during previous attacks.

Strike by a Zircon missile

And now the main intrigue of this enemy missile strike. It is that there are fragments of missiles that Russia has not used before, but this time used to strike Kyiv. We did not want to be the first to give this information, remembering the wave when Defense Express wrote that Patriot had shot down a Kinzhal, but now these photos have already appeared on other media resources. The wreckage has a 3M22 missile index on it. What is this index? This is the index of a new hypersonic Russian missile called Zircon.

It first became known about it around 2016. We saw the first official test in 2020 when it was launched from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate. The characteristics of these missiles are unknown, but the lying Putin said that this missile has a range of up to nine strokes, which means that a superhypersonic missile has a range of up to 1,000 km and a warhead of about 400 kg. In fact, we don't even know if this missile has been officially adopted by the Russian army, although there were reports that in 2023 there was an order to purchase several dozen missiles.

So, we have debris in Kyiv at one of the sites with the 3M22 index, which may belong to a Zircon missile. We don't know what launchers it was launched from, because formally it was designed to be used from offshore platforms, but there were reports that a special launch system was being developed.

What does all this mean? In fact, this is the latest hypersonic missile that was created by Russia to overcome air defense systems, and the experts we spoke to say that the missile was shot down. This means that during this attack, the air defense systems covering Kyiv coped with the enemy's new, most advanced hypersonic missile called Zircon.

These are preliminary conclusions based only on some fragments of the missile, but in any case, if the information is confirmed after the conclusions of experts who are now studying the fragments in more detail, we will have another good example of the effectiveness of air defense systems that are protecting Kyiv today. I hope they will protect other cities as well. This is the destruction of another myth about Russia's most advanced weapons. This story is related to this next enemy missile attack on the capital, and the results are related to the work of our air defense, which even goes beyond the optimistic figures announced today by the Air Force Command.

Creation of unmanned troops

It has become known about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s decree on the creation of unmanned troops, or rather a separate type of troops related to unmanned issues. We understand that there may be a risk when the formation of a new type of troops creates a vertical with a new unmanned commander and begins to destroy initiatives already implemented on the ground.

Pavlo Kyshkar, former MP, deputy commander of the artillery division, major, and the Defense Ministry’s Accelerator's project office head, commented on this information: "I expect a lot from this decree, from its implementation, and I hope that mobilization to this particular type of troops will be successful. We need people with higher education, people who want to master the latest modern weapons systems. We hope that not only unmanned systems will be included in the equipment of the new units, but also automated systems that will be operated by human operators on the battlefield. In the near future, we will see a decision signed by the Minister on the combat use of this kind of troops, because without their own charter, such units will be ineffective," he said.

As Kyshkar said, the question is how a separate type of these troops will be formed.

"We hope that the existing structures will not be involved, because the human resource, including pilots and people who work with electronic warfare systems, should not be affected. Moreover, the units to be created will be units at the disposal of a senior officer - they will not be units that will be subordinate to certain brigades. In other words, a drone brigade cannot hold the frontline - it is an attached force, and the regulatory framework will be formed to ensure that these units and forces are the forces of the senior chief. I think that these reserves, as a strong addition to the units that already exist in combat brigades, will coexist and function in a coordinated manner," the military explained.

Implementation of new laws

In fact, there is a law on write-offs that was supported by the parliament and has been awaiting the president's signature for two months now, and all military unit commanders are shouting: sign this law, because each of them now has a pile of property that cannot be written off, and this is a significant problem for them.

"This is not the number one issue for middle and senior commanders right now. We have been screaming, screaming and will continue to scream. Moreover, I insist that during the great war, since February 24, 2022, not a single reform in the management system of the Ministry of Defense, the General Staff and the Office of the Commander-in-Chief has taken place. This is despite the fact that the developments, laws, orders of the minister - everything is written and signed. We have questions about mobilization - someone would come out and say that from today we are adopting a relevant legal act and from today we will not accept men aged 27-60 to the formation, rear, and personnel work units. This is also a reform, a significant step forward. We have mobilized this or that part of the people on our own," Kyshkar said.

The military insists that the mobilization of human resources should start with the state apparatus: "These are more or less trained people who serve in the State Bureau of Investigation, NABU, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This will be a real mobilization revolution, and showing a movie for Russian television where someone is packed and put in a bus is definitely not an option for an open society. Moreover, the proposals that are being developed are to create a second army in the form of volunteer units. We believe that such units are technically equipped, for example, with unmanned aerial vehicles and automated systems.”

Development of the Ukrainian military-industrial complex

"The army has to start with itself, conduct internal mobilization, and the state has to conduct technical mobilization in order to keep its people. Robots have to fight, we have such developments in technology, but to do so, we need to speed up the production of our developments and put them on a production line as much as possible. The Ministry of Defense, the Commander-in-Chief and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief (President) have this opportunity. Using their signature, they can organize and quickly put into service the latest modern developments of the Ukrainian military-industrial complex," emphasizes the deputy commander of the artillery division.

There are dozens of manufacturers in Ukraine waiting for long-term contracts. Kyshkar called for the production of robots, automated systems, and drones to win and save our people.

Law on mobilization

"Unfortunately, the proposed draft law is a reflection of the purely Soviet system of army recruitment. Only one of our proposals has been taken into account, regarding the impossibility of reserving men aged 27-60 who are in the civil service or work in local government. Still, it's up to the Cabinet of Ministers to decide whether it's taken into account or not. I don't know how to convince the Cabinet that this should not be done. If these guys who are currently working in other government agencies do not join the army, we will not have enough resources, listen! And we need to start with mobilizing men who are in the civil service, there is no other resource. If you do not want to take this into account, you will soon see this result at the front. Because then there can be no talk of rotations, you are deceiving people who are now at the front with this law," Kyshkar summarized.

The head of the MoD Accelerator's project office added that if these people are not mobilized now, Ukraine will no longer need the NABU or the police.

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