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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Russia removing nuclear warheads from old missiles to use in war

Russia is firing ageing cruise missiles stripped of their nuclear warheads at Ukrainian targets because Vladimir Putin’s stocks are so depleted, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has suggested.

n intelligence update from the MoD on Saturday said the desperate improvisation by the Russian President’s struggling forces are “unlikely to achieve reliable effects”.

The evidence cited are pictures of apparently shot down AS-15 Kent air launched cruise missiles, which were said to have been designed in the 1980s as a nuclear delivery system.

The MoD said the nuclear warheads had probably been substituted for ballast, with the Kremlin’s hope likely that the missiles will distract Ukrainian air defences.

“Although such an inert system will still produce some damage through the missile’s kinetic energy and any unspent fuel, it is unlikely to achieve reliable effects against intended targets,” a statement said.

“Whatever Russia’s intent, this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia’s stock of long-range missiles.”

Ukrainian authorities are gradually restoring power, aided by the reconnection of the country’s four nuclear plants, but millions of people are still without heat or electricity after the most devastating Russian air strikes of the war.

In a rare public spat involving Ukrainian leaders, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy criticised the mayor of Kyiv on Friday for doing what he said was a poor job setting up emergency shelters to help those without power and heat.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday the Western military alliance would not back down on its support for Kyiv. NATO forces took part on Friday in drills in northern Poland’s Suwalki Gap, a strip of land between Belarus and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, and of crucial significance to the security of the alliance’s eastern flank.

This comes as a meeting of European Union government representatives, scheduled for Friday evening to discuss a Group of Seven proposal to cap Russian seaborne oil prices, was cancelled, diplomats said. EU governments were split on the level at which to cap Russian oil prices to curb Moscow’s ability to pay for its war in Ukraine without causing a global oil supply shock.

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