A remarkable video shows Russian air defenses trying and failing to intercept a Ukrainian Storm Shadow cruise missile before it hits the ground close by.
Smoke trails from surface-to-air missile launches streak into the clear blue sky at the unseen threat, all before a massive explosion from impact not far in front of the camera. It suggests that while Russians may be able to detect the incoming Storm Shadow, at least at the end of its flight, intercepting it is another matter.
The clip appears to back up previous accounts suggesting Russian short-range air defense (SHORAD) systems struggle to track and intercept the low-observable cruise missile. A video from earlier this month, reportedly from within a Russian Pantsir S1 air defense unit, showed the Russians’ inability to make the intercept.
The Storm Shadow is an obvious threat to much of the Russian rear area, a danger further magnified by ineffective air defenses. Given the struggles seen above, it appears only a few incoming missiles could overwhelm point defenses around key Russian positions, including bridges and other fixed logistical points.
As Ukraine continues to shape the battlefield amid its ongoing counteroffensive, the knowledge its highly-prized, British-supplied cruise missiles have proven capable of penetrating Russian air defenses — and they may have had some help in doing so in the past — will certainly play into future targeting decisions.
Before we head into the latest from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.
Today’s intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense has further confirmed the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast. Ukrainian troops “have almost certainly” deployed to the east bank near the destroyed Antonovskiy Bridge.
Russian defenders include elements of the Dnipro Group of Forces (DGF) 7th Guards Air Assault Division, a Russian VDV unit. Moscow “has highly likely” redeployed parts of the DGF formerly along the Dnipro’s banks to the Zaporizhzhia sector in recent weeks. Already difficult, riverine terrain is made even more complicated in the wake of catastrophic flooding from the Kakhovka Dam’s collapse on June 6.
Video reportedly shows a Russian Tigr-M vehicle burning after a Ukrainian attack near the city of Oleshky. Located across the Konka River and the first piece of solid ground beyond the vast Dnipro River delta, Oleshky is the first settlement on the highway connecting Kherson to Crimea.
If Ukrainian forces have indeed made it into Oleshky, Russian forces’ already precarious situation on the Crimean approaches of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia will only get worse. A healthy bridgehead through which scores of Ukrainian troops can pour into the Russian left flank opens up another front that will take a toll on Russia's already overstretched lines. Doing so will still take some major work as the initial bridgehead is thought to be small in size and under high threat of Russian bombardment.
The Institute for the Study of War (@TheStudyofWar) assessed continued Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in at least three frontline sectors on June 30. To the north in Luhansk Oblast, fighting continues along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.
Further south in Donetsk Oblast, there are reported Ukrainian gains around the ruins of Bakhmut, and skirmishes continue in the war-torn suburbs of Donetsk proper. Video also shows Ukrainian first-person-view (FPV) kamikaze drone striking and destroying a Russian BTR wheeled APC near Marinka.
The Bakhmut sector is interesting indeed, as Ukrainian forces press the offensive after months of a grinding war of attrition in the area.
Also in the Donbas, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited a gas station to get coffee and take selfies with Ukrainian soldiers in the area.
In Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainian forces continue their push toward the occupied city of Melitopol along the administrative border between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts. Fighting in this area remains intense, as video from the trenches shows a Ukrainian soldier quickly switching to a sidearm after taking a trench from Russian forces.
Ukrainian armored recovery vehicles remain busy retrieving damaged and abandoned vehicles from battlefields. A clip shows Ukrainian troops with a Bergepanzer ARV recovering a M2A2 Bradley and other vehicles with battle damage.
Ukrainian tank crews have modified at least one of the eight Canadian-supplied Leopard 2A4 tanks with a layer of Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor (ERA). You can read our full coverage of this unique modification in our story here.
Elsewhere, Ukrainian Leopards are working Russian trenches in close-up battles. A Ukrainian Leopard 2A6 can be seen firing high-explosive shells into the trench line in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Russia’s most modern tank has not fared as well in Zaporizhzhia, as video shows a T-90M engulfed in a fireball after taking a Ukrainian anti-tank missile hit.
Amongst fears Russia may stage a radioactive accident at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, a U.S. Air Force WC-135R “Constant Phoenix” surveillance aircraft flew from Strategic Command’s 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, to Chania Air Base on the island of Crete.
Chania has hosted much of the U.S. Air Force’s RC-135 fleet for surveillance of the Black Sea and Eastern Europe since the Russian buildup began in late 2021. The Constant Phoenix is designed to sample the air for radioactive particles, used both to confirm suspected nuclear tests and track radiation from nuclear disasters. Its reason for going to Crete remains unclear. These aircraft do baseline reading flights around the globe on a regular basis. But considering the concerns surrounding ZNPP, it's presence is worth keeping an eye on.
Ripple effects from last week’s abortive coup by Wagner PMC leader Yevgenny Prigozhin continue in the form of a scathing rebuke of Russian President Vladimir Putin by influential mil-blogger Igor Girkin. In a video address, Girkin said “Putin demonstrates his total powerlessness” in the context of alleged amnesty for many of those involved in the rebellion.
Ukrainian troops reportedly recovered a rather interesting pamphlet from a Russian trench near Bakhmut. The pages show various side-by-side images, with soldiers under a Russian flag doing good deeds while those under the Ukrainian flag do just about every evil thing imaginable, all under the Russian caption “That’s the difference.” It’s a familiar form of classic propaganda, but one we haven't seen much of in this conflict.
That’s all for now. We will update this story when there’s more to report on Ukraine.
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