Ukraine Situation Report: Russia Now Launching Kalibr Cruise Missiles From The Sea Of Azov

Russia began launching Kalibr long-range cruise missiles from the Sea of Azov late Friday night. This was the first time this is said to have occurred. The Russian Navy had previously been firing sea-launched Kalibr land attack missiles at Ukraine from the Black Sea, but that became more dangerous for them because of repeated attacks by Ukrainian missiles and aerial and sea dones.

“This marks a significant turning point because the Russians consider it a safer area compared to the Black Sea,” Ukrainian Navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk told a national television audience on June 22.

The Russians launched four Kalibr missiles from the Sea of Azov, said Pletenchuk.

It was part of a combined attack on cities and power installations involving six Shahed-136 drones and a total of 16 air-, land- and sea-launched missiles. Cites and energy facilities across Ukraine were hit, including Ivano-Frankvivsk, Lutsk, and Lviv in the west and Kyiv and Vinnytsia in the center of the country, and Zaporizhzhia in the south, the Ukrainian RBC news outlet reported. Of 16 missiles, 12 were downed by Ukrainian air defenses as well as all six drones, according to the Ukrainian Air Force.

The Russian Navy moved nine ships into the Sea of Azov on June 20, the Ukrainian Navy said. However, it has not abandoned all kinetic operations from the Black Sea. During the overnight attack, the Russian Navy also launched Kalilbr missiles from that body of water as well.

The Navy spokesperson noted that there are now three Russian ships in the Sea of Azov capable of carrying a combined 20 missiles and one submarine in the Black Sea that carry up to four cruise missiles. He did not name those ships. Having submarines continue to launch from the Black Sea would make sense as the Russian Kilo class boats are far less vulnerable than their surface warfare counterparts when out to sea.

Russia is now firing missiles at Ukraine from the Sea of Azov. Google Earth image

While the Russians “have decided they can use the Sea of Azov for positioning their ships and launching attacks, Pletenchuk offered a warning to Russia.

“They seem to forget that the Sea of Azov is also quite close to us,” he added.

While Ukraine can strike Russian ports there with missiles and drones, hitting ships underway or at anchor will be a lot harder. The sea drones Ukraine has been using to good effect in the Black Sea will have a very difficult time accessing the Azov Sea. They would have to pass under the Kerch Bridge, which is now highly defended against such infiltrations. Beyond that, Russian controlled territory surrounds the body of water by a sizable buffer zone and a very defense air defense overall sits atop the region. The Kerch area, where these ships are likely operating, sits nearly 150 miles from the front lines.

Still, Ukraine and its foreign backers have been very crafty about ways to reach strike into Russian controlled territory. Denying Russia this area for launches will certainly become a pressing objective if they continue.

Before diving into more developments from the conflict in Ukraine, The War Zone readers can review our previous coverage here.

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Russian forces continued to conduct offensive operations across the battlefield, with few territorial gains.

Moscow’s troops advanced to the west and south of Donetsk City, according to the latest Institute for the Study of War assessment. They also gained ground along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line in Luhansk Oblast amid continued ground attacks.

Fighting also raged in northern Kharkiv Oblast, Donestk Oblast and Zaporizhia Oblast with no confirmed changes to the frontlines, according to ISW.

The Biden administration’s decision to allow Ukraine to fire American weapons into Russia extends beyond just over the border from Kharkiv Oblast, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told PBS on Tuesday. Ukraine can use weapons like M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS “anywhere that Russian forces are coming across the border from the Russian side to the Ukrainian side to try to take additional Ukrainian territory.”

Ukraine is still prevented, however, from using U.S.-donated Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) short-range ballistic missiles. Ukraine has received variants that can strike about 186 miles and 100 miles.

The first Ukrainian attack using HIMARS-fired Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) munitions – which have a range of about 50 miles – took place in the Belgorod region in the beginning of June. You can read more about that here

However, Russia has in recent days indicated it may soon move on the northeastern city of Sumy, Politico noted. That city, about 90 miles northwest of Kharkiv, sits almost equidistant from both Belgorod and Kursk oblasts. If Russia attacks that city, the Biden administration’s weapons policy would apply there as well, Sullivan added.

“This is not about geography. It’s about common sense,” Sullivan surmised. “If Russia is attacking or about to attack from its territory into Ukraine, it only makes sense to allow Ukraine to hit back against the forces that are hitting it from across the border.”

Sumy

Days later the Pentagon’s spokesman said there was no change to U.S. policy. That even though it was rolled out indicating that Ukraine could only use U.S. weapons near Kharkiv, which is about 20 miles south of Belgorod Oblast.

“There has been no change in the policy,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Thursday. “And really, at the end of the day, this comes down to counter-fire, right? And what you saw in the Kharkiv region is Russia was conducting its offensive, was the massing of forces, artillery fire, preparatory fire into Ukraine as they conducted these operations.” 

“And so,” he added, “the ability to be able to fire back when fired upon is really what this policy is focused on.”

Speaking of strikes into Russia using NATO weapons, the head of Germany’s Bundestag Defense Committee shrugged off concerns about how Moscow might react.

“Russia will have one less plane,” said Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann. “One less plane heading to Ukraine to kill Ukrainians.”

Recall that back in January, a German-provided Patriot air defense system was responsible for shooting down a Russian A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft over the Sea of Azov, according to a U.S. Army officer. 

Col. Rosanna Clemente, Assistant Chief of Staff at the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, described that engagement as a “SAMbush,” or surface-to-air missile ambush.

You can read more about that here

The Netherlands and another country are going to supply Ukraine with a Patriot system, The Times, a Dutch news outlet, reported

Outgoing Defense minister Kajsa Ollongren announced on Friday that they succeeded in collecting parts that can then form a complete system, the publication reported. However, she would not reveal the other country helping supply the system. 

“She thinks the country involved should announce that,” The Times reported. “She had been working on accomplishing this for some time.”

The announcement follows one by the Biden administration that it is temporarily delaying sales of Patriot and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS interceptors to any nation but Ukraine and Taiwan. It also comes a day after Romania announced it would provide Ukraine with a Patriot battery.

Russian Telegram channels are complaining they are seriously outgunned when it comes to First-Person View (FPV) drones, according to research compiled by drone expert Samuel Bendett.

“The ratio of UAVs at the front is now approximately 1 to 6 – not in our favor….,” one Telegram channel bemoaned.

One of the biggest reasons is stifling Russian bureaucracy.

“In Russia, a lot of promising projects have stalled either because of bureaucracy or due to lack of funding,” the Telegramer explained. By contrast, there is a quicker Test & Evaluation (T&E) process in Ukraine, where much of the effort is crowd sourced and driven by small entities, not massive conglomerations.

Another Telegram channel suggested that Russia follow Ukraine’s lead and create its own drone unit. Ukraine has a separate branch of the military called the Unmanned Systems Forces.

“I would create a separate UAV regiment – 3,000-4,000 people who could fight along the entire front,” said Mikhail Filipov, founder of the volunteer Project Archangel effort. “We need approximately 100,000 kamikaze drones per month – this is the average consumption. Such a regiment should work with EW and electronic recon systems.”

In an effort to protect themselves against drones, especially FPV models, Russians have begun to deploy the Tetrahedron Counter-Uncrewed Aerial Systems/Counter-FPV Electronic Warfare (EW) equipment on many more of its vehicles, according to the Russian Two Majors Telegram channel that first posted the video. Little is known about the system or how well it works, if it even works at all.

In a brutal moment in a horrible war, a Russian soldier begs a comrade for help or possibly to put him out of his misery after being hit by a Ukrainian FPV drone. In this chilling video below, you can see him comply. Warning, this is graphic.

The Russian soldier in this drone video never really had a chance against this FPV drone. You can it back him into a rut caused by a heavy armored vehicle. He rolls into the rut, then out, where the drone strikes him.

A Russian Osa air defense transporter, launcher and radar (TLAR) vehicle tried to shoot down a Ukrainian drone. Instead it was hit by an FPV drone from Ukraine’s 79th Air Assault Brigade. You can see the TLAR being hit in this video below.

A new Ukrainian mystery drone is causing havoc in Russia. The twin-tail boomed drone is made out of a honeycombed composite, according to Twitter user Daniel R (@DanielR33187703), who describes himself as an imaging physicist. They are powered by Chinese-made DLE 120 engines that can make 12hp engine and are able to carry 20 kg (about 44 pounds) of munitions at least 300 km (about 186 miles). The drones have no known name. Daniel R surmised they might be the Dragon or Splash drones that Ukrainian Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Defense Intelligence Directorate (GUR) told us hit the Morosovsk Air Base deep inside Russia on June 14.

Another Ukrainian drone innovation is this large quadcopter holding nine munitions that can be dropped on targets as if being released from a bomb bay.

Both sides are now using drones made out of cardboard. Ukraine was the first to use them after they were provided by Australia. Russians apparently then made copies.

A Ukrainian Shark drone is seen in the video below being launched and used to spot Russian drone operators, who were then bombarded as a result.

A Russian tank in Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, is seen getting blown to smithereens after reportedly being attacked by a Ukrainian FPV drone. It is claimed the drone flew into the cope-cage on top and penetrated the turret, exploding the tank’s ammunition. However, it is hard to make out the drone in the video below.

A Russian Turtle Self-Propelled Mortar (a cousin of the infamous Turtle Tanks) sporting added armor plates on the top and sides was struck by an FPV drone, which you can see from the drone’s perspective in this video below. It flies under the shell-like covering, striking the 2S9 Nona self-propelled mortar on the hull. Another drone captures it erupting in flames.

Ukrainian troops displayed the Turtle Tank they captured earlier this month. It turned out to be an old T-62M clad in sheet metal with a non-operational gun, no ammunition and a turret locked in place. Check out their tour below:

Speaking of Turtle Tanks, retired Australian Army Maj. Gen. Mick Ryan, now a military analyst, posted a Twitter thread with his thoughts about those armor-clad contraptions. While they are “weird-looking beasts,” they address a specific battlefield need.

“They are a particular solution to a particular problem,” he wrote. “After 26 months of war, adaptations on both sides have led to an increasingly difficult environment for the conduct of offensive operations. In particular, closing with the enemy and breaking into their defences is difficult.”

The Turtle Tanks “are therefore testbeds for new tactics and tech. They provide the following: 1. Survivability against drones, loitering munitions & FPV; 2. electronic breaching operations as part of ground assault; 3. integration of drone & EW defenses into combined arms operations; 4. integration of physical and electronic breaching in a single platform.”

One minute, these Russian troops were standing in their trench dugout, the next minute, all hell broke lose after it was hit by a Ukrainian artillery shell. This video below vividly captures the horrors and chaos of war.

Two days ago, we told you about a fire at a Russian refinery in Azov, southern Russia, had been burning for 36 hours after a Ukrainian drone strike. It was still burning as of Friday, but Vasily Golubev, the governor of Rostov Oblast, said on his Telegram channel that by noon local time it has been extinguished.

Satellite images show a before and after view of that facility.

Russian troops apparently tried to hide some ammunition in ammonia fertilizer stored in Russia’s Kursk region, but it didn’t work out so well. You can see the explosive results below.

Russia is continuing to build out its aforementioned fortifications of barges designed to protect the twice-damaged Kerch Bridge.

The barges are designed to prevent drone boats from striking the bridge, as was the case last July, when Ukrainian Sea Baby drones caused extensive damage to Vladimir Putin’s prized $4 billion span linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula it illegally occupies.

The video below, compiled by AEI Foreign Policy spokesman Brady Africk from satellite imagery from May 12 to June 21, shows the barrier growing from one barge west of the bridge to 24 arrayed in an upside-down “L” formation.

On Thursday, we told you that video emerged possibly showing Russia’s use of its massive FAB-3000 M54 bomb equipped with a with a UMPK-series glide bomb kit. Those modules consist of a pop-out wing kit and a guidance package, as you can read more about here. It was possibly seen striking a building in Liptsy, a village in the Kharkiv region.

On Friday, another video was posted showing what is claimed to be a second 6,600 pound behemoth striking a building in that town. The drone view shows the building being targeted then the massive munition landing to the left of the building instead of directly on it.

While the FAB-3000 offers massive explosive power, turning the weighty weapon into a glide bomb is a terrible idea, the Russian Aerospace Forces-connected Fighterbomber Telegram channel seethed. It’s too big for its bomb truck to carry more than one and there are better options for that conversion kit, he steamed.

“On March 22, I wrote my opinion about the uselessness of UMPC of this caliber in modern warfare,” Fighterbomber complained. “About the next day, a decision was made to create a UMPC for this bomb. The designers of the aircraft, the designers of the UMPC, quickly built a new UMPC from scratch for a bomb and made it friends with the Su-34 [Fullback fighter-bomber].”

“But the miracle did not happen,” Fighterbomber continued. “And the Su-34 cannot carry more than one 3000 bomb…the customers fucked everyone up and paid huge amounts of money from the state so that the Su-34 could bomb one bomb per target.”

Thursday’s video “clearly shows that the power of the FAB-3000 is only slightly greater than the power of the FAB-1500. By the way, this was the main reason why their production was curtailed. Judging by the depth of the crater, the bomb was set for an ‘instant explosion,’ so all the energy was spent on high-explosive fragmentation, and not on digging a hole.”

The Russian Aerospace Forces-connected Fighterbober Telegram channel does not love the FAB-300/UMPC bomb combination. Fighterbomber Telegram

That’s it for now.

Contact the author: howard@thewarzone.com

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Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.

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