Ukraine Situation Report: Naval Strike Missiles May Be Headed To Ukraine

Ukraine could be in line to receive the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile, or NSM, from Polish stocks, with reports in the Polish media suggesting that talks between the two countries about a possible transfer of these coastal defense systems are underway.

A report on the website says that negotiations are at an advanced stage. The NSM would provide Ukraine with a powerful ability to attack both naval and land targets at distances of over 124 miles. Among its other features, the NSM has low-observable characteristics to make it more difficult for adversaries to spot in advance and it employs unpredictable movements in its terminal stage of flight to help avoid enemy air defense systems. The missile also has an imaging infrared (IIR) system for terminal homing, meaning it gives no radio-frequency warning and cannot be spoofed using RF jamming tactics.

The report claims that a transfer could possibly be secured using European Unions funds, which would in turn allows Poland to backfill its NSM units.

The Polish Navy currently operates two complete NSM systems within its Coastal Missile Squadron. Each consists of two batteries, each battery having three launchers with up to four missiles each, and supporting command and fire control vehicles. In addition, there are battery and squadron command vehicles, mobile communication centers, plus target detection and tracking radars.

Poland was the first NSM operator to deploy a coastal defense variant, although the U.S. Marine Corps, Romania, and Latvia subsequently decided to acquire the same. The U.S. Navy and Norway use NSM missiles in their ship-launched variant.

A Polish Navy NSM launch truck, which uses a locally produced chassis. Szymon Rutkowski/Wikimedia Commons Szymon Rutkowski/Wikimedia Commons

Before we head into the latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.

The Latest

At least 11 people have been killed after a Russian strike on the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk in the eastern Donetsk region, according to the city’s mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko.

The attack last night hit a busy pizza restaurant in the city, killing at least three children, and reportedly injuring a further 56 people. Emergency services said seven people had been found under the rubble.

Donetsk is one of the regions of Ukraine that Russia claimed to annex last year.

Among those killed, according to Ukrainian authorities, were two 14-year-old twin sisters, named as Yulia and Anna Aksenchenko.

According to Ukrainian state news agency Suspilne, “Rescuers continue to clear the rubble, and have rescued seven people … Dog handlers and psychologists also work on site.”

Further details of the attack were provided on Telegram by Pavlo Kyrylenko, Ukrainian governor of Donetsk Oblast:

“The Russians struck with two missiles — one aimed at a private enterprise, the second at a pizzeria.”

“The impact completely destroyed the building of the pizzeria, damaged 18 high-rise buildings, 65 private houses, five schools, two kindergartens, a shopping center, a hotel, an administrative building, and a recreational facility.”

Search and rescue efforts continue after the Russian missile attack that hit a restaurant in Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Photo by Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In an initial statement, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said that Russia used S-300 surface-to-air missiles in a surface attack capacity, although subsequent reports from Ukraine suggested that the weapons used were Iskander short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).

Meanwhile, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) claims it has arrested a man that it accuses of having helped carry out the Kramatorsk attack. The man was described by the counter-intelligence service as “an agent of the Russian special services.” According to the SSU, the man was a resident of the city and worked for a local gas transportation company.

“The agent of the Russian Federation will definitely answer to the Ukrainian court,” said Vasyl Malyuk, the head of the SSU. “But his detention is also a signal to all other adjusters and traitors who work for the enemy. Remember: the punishment is inevitable!”

For its part, Moscow today issued a denial that it deliberately launches attacks on civilian targets.

“The Russian Federation does not strike at civilian infrastructure,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “Strikes are carried out on objects that are connected with military infrastructure in one way or another.” Peskov was responding to a question about the strike on Kramatorsk, in particular, but he did not offer an explanation as to why the restaurant was hit.

Subsequently, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the target hit in Kramatorsk was a “temporary command post” of the Ukrainian army, according to a Reuters report.

He added: “Strikes are carried out on objects that are connected with military infrastructure in one way or another.”

Triggering a social-media conspiracy theory was the justification presented by Russian state TV, claiming that the missiles “were aimed at NATO instructors and the strike’s objective was achieved,” again suggesting that the pizza restaurant was deliberately targeted after all.

While Ukraine blamed the strike on the city of Kramatorsk on a Russian missile, Russian drones were also used overnight to attack targets in the country. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, six Iranian-made Shahed drones were destroyed by its air defenses, two of them being brought down over the Cherkasy Oblast in central Ukraine. In the same region, another two of the drones hit an empty warehouse, again according to Ukrainian Air Force accounts.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, local authorities have reported casualties as a result of Russian shelling. Oleh Synyehubov, the governor of Kharkiv Oblast, in the northeast of the country, said that three civilians had been killed by shelling in the village of Vovchan, in the Chuguyiv district.

“The enemy continues to fire on peaceful residents of Kharkiv Oblast,” Synyehubov said. “Unfortunately, there are victims.”

Synyehubov also said that a 70-year-old woman had been injured in shelling in the Kupiansk district. He also added that the attacks were prosecuted using “surface-to-air missiles,” suggesting that Russia used S-300 missiles in a surface attack capacity.

According to Ukrainian state broadcaster Suspilne, three people were injured overnight by Russian shelling in the Kherson region. Its report claims that “the Kherson community was hit 12 times, 49 shells were fired. Three residents of the community were injured.”

With Ukraine’s air defenses under continued pressure from Russian attacks of all kinds, there remains a huge demand for additional ground-based air defense systems, especially modern Western ones, to supplant Kyiv’s mainly Soviet-era systems.

Today, Lithuania’s president, Gitanas Nausėda, confirmed that his country will supply Ukraine with two NASAMS launchers. Nausėda made the announcement during a visit to Kyiv today.

Ukraine has already received eight NASAMS batteries from the United States, delivered beginning in November 2022, with another two firing units pledged by Norway and one battery by Canada. As well as the firing systems, AMRAAM missiles compatible with these have been promised by Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Lithuania’s neighbor and fellow NATO ally Poland has said that it’s ready to strengthen security on its border with Belarus. The move follows the arrival in Belarus of exiled former Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and suggestions that he and his mercenaries could begin working there on behalf of the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko.

“If necessary, its readiness will be strengthened,” Poland’s President Andrzej Duda told a news conference today. “It is at a high level now and it is very professional.”

Duda also confirmed that both Poland and Lithuania will do everything they can to ensure that Ukraine joins NATO as soon as possible, according to a report from Reuters.

Previously, NATO chief, Jens Stoltenberg, ruled out Ukraine joining the alliance until the war is over.

Speaking today, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said he wanted to receive a signal that the country could join NATO after the war ends.

“We understand that we cannot be a member of NATO during the war, but we need to be sure that after the war we will be,” Zelenskiy told a press conference with the visiting Polish and Lithuanian presidents.

Efforts are being made to bolster the production of weapons in Ukraine, with one recent step being the appointment of a new head of the state-owned Ukroboronprom arms manufacturer.

“The newly appointed general director faces three main tasks: to increase the production of ammunition and military equipment, build an effective anti-corruption infrastructure in the company, and transform Ukroboronprom,” explained Oleksander Kamyshyn, minister for Ukraine’s strategic industries, in a report from Reuters.

The new head of Ukroboronprom is Herman Smetanin, previously in charge of the Kharkiv Malyshev plant in northeast Ukraine.

On the battlefield, Kyiv claims that its forces have made more progress in their ongoing counteroffensive, although the latest remarks from Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov are deliberately vague. Talking to the Financial Times, Reznikov only confirmed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have made “certain gains” that have not been made public. He added that the bulk of the country’s troops had not yet been deployed in the counter-offensive.

“When it happens, you will all see it,” Reznikov said. “Everyone will see everything,” apparently in response to reports of the slow progress being made by Ukrainian troops, who have faced heavily dug-in Russian positions, as well as increasingly effective Russian threats including Ka-52 attack helicopters.

Russian ground-based air defenses also continue to menace Ukrainian tactical aircraft and drones operating close to the front lines. In the following official Russian Ministry of Defense video, we see the activity of a Russian Strela-10 (SA-13 Gopher) short-range surface-to-air missile system.

Meanwhile, on the Ukrainian side, soldiers are claimed to have shot down a Russian Su-25 ground-attack aircraft using an Igla series man-portable air defense system (MANPADS). Again, the action purportedly took place in the Bakhmut region, although the precise date and location cannot be confirmed.

Amid recent reports of Ukrainian forces continuing to liberate villages previously held by Russian occupation forces, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has reiterated that he will not accept any peace plan that would have the effect of freezing Russian territorial gains made since the full-scale invasion that began in February 2022.

Speaking to the Ukrainian parliament today, Zelensky reiterated that “Ukraine will not agree to any of the variants for a frozen conflict.”

Among the prerequisites of Zelensky’s peace “formula” are the full restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of all Russian troops, and the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders.

In one apparently recent example of the Ukrainian Armed Forces continuing their push in the east of the country, this video shows soldiers of the 80th Airborne Assault Brigade attack Russian positions, purportedly in the Bakhmut area:

More from Bakhmut in the next video, too, which purportedly shows Ukrainian forces from the 18th Mechanized Brigade placing a flag on the dam outside of Kurdyumivka in the Donetsk Oblast, southwest of the city of Bakhmut.

More interesting — apparently recent — footage has also come to light of a significant Ukrainian strike against a Russian rear area, this time in Zaporizhia Oblast. Artillery fire was called in with the aid of a drone, apparently knocking out at least six Kamaz trucks and a cargo van.

More Ukrainian drones in action in the next video, this time showing attacks on Russian vehicles being used to create defensive lines somewhere in the south of the country:

Russian officials today issued reports of various different explosions and other incidents both on Russian territory as well as in parts of Ukraine controlled by the Kremlin’s forces.

Explosions have been heard in the city of Polohy, in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region, according to one of its Russian-imposed leaders, Vladimir Rogov. On Telegram, Rogov claimed that three explosions were heard near the train depot there.

Another Russian-imposed leader, Vladimir Rogov, claimed that there were loud explosions heard in occupied Melitopol, which he attributed to local air defenses.

Meanwhile, in the Belgorod Oblast in Russia, which borders Ukraine, local governor Vyacheslav Gladkov has claimed that a Ukrainian cross-border strike resulted in the water supply being temporarily cut off for around 220 people in the region. Gladkov said Ukrainian strikes had hit multiple settlements, apparently using drones rigged to drop explosive devices, but he reported no injuries.

More details have emerged of some of the heavy losses inflicted on the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) by the mercenaries of the Wagner Group, during the rebellion last weekend.

The regional governor of the Pskov Oblast, Mikhail Vedernikov, paid tribute to two Russian pilots who served at a base in the region.

Lt. Col. Alexei Vorozhtsov and Lt. Denis Oleinikov were flying a Ka-52 attack helicopter downed by Wagner fighters. This suggests that the crew was assigned to the 15th Army Aviation Brigade, based at Ostrov, which is equipped with the Ka-52 as well as Mi-28N attack helicopters and Mi-35M assault helicopters, among others.

TASS quotes Vedernikov saying: “The events of the weekend will remain in our memory for a long time: before our eyes, an armed rebellion broke out and quickly burned out, but it had threatened to develop into a fratricidal conflict with a large number of victims. The trouble passed by thanks to the professional, diplomatic work of a number of departments who saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives.”

Ostrov Air Base was also the scene of an apparent sabotage attack in November last year, during which operatives detonated explosives placed on the attack helicopters, including a Ka-52. You can read more about the raid here.

That’s it for now. We’ll update this story when there’s more news to report about Ukraine.

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Thomas Newdick

Staff Writer

Thomas is a defense writer and editor with over 20 years of experience covering military aerospace topics and conflicts. He’s written a number of books, edited many more, and has contributed to many of the world’s leading aviation publications. Before joining The War Zone in 2020, he was the editor of AirForces Monthly.