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Russia's Kalibr Missile Supply Route Crippled by Aerial Strike: Ukraine

Newsweek 3/31/2023 Fatma Khaled
An unexploded rocket of the Russian occupying troops sticks out of the road. Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, triggering the largest military attack in Europe since World War II. © Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty An unexploded rocket of the Russian occupying troops sticks out of the road. Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, triggering the largest military attack in Europe since World War II.

Recent explosions caused during a drone strike in the north side of Crimea has destroyed a supply route that Russian troops use to transport Kalibr missiles, according to the Ukrainian military.

Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine's defense forces in the south, said on Friday that Russia's ability to transfer ammunition, Kalibr missiles, and equipment, is now limited due to the explosions in the city of Dzhankoy, Ukrainska Pravda reported. The city is located north of Crimea, which has been illegally annexed by Moscow since 2014.

"They [Russians] continue to try [to restore the railroad connection], the work is still ongoing, and the full-fledged railroad connection, which would allow them to transfer heavy equipment, has not yet been restored," said Humeniuk.

One of Russia's biggest airfields in Crimea is located in Dzhankoy, which serves as a crucial base to Russian President Vladimir Putin's military. It is a "key road and rail junction that plays an important role in supplying Russia's operations in southern Ukraine," the British defense ministry said of the town last August.

The explosions happened last week and destroyed Russian Kalibr cruise missiles while they were being transported by rail, said the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence at the time without claiming responsibility for the attack. The missiles can be launched from Russian vessels in Moscow's Black Sea Fleet, which is based in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol.

Kalibr missiles have a range of more than 1,500 miles against land targets, and 230 miles against sea targets, according to the Ukrainian defense ministry's Main Directorate of Intelligence.

Humeniuk added on Friday that there were reports that Russia tried to use aircraft to transfer the missiles, but it is not known whether that attempt was successful. Newsweek was unable to independently verify Humeniuk's claim about alternative transfer routes.

The Ukrainian military spokesperson also said that there was one missile carrier left as of Friday, which is located underwater and is capable of only carrying four Kalibr missiles.

Videos of the explosion circulated on Twitter last week and were shared by Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser for Ukraine's interior ministry and journalist Maria Avdeeva.

Ukraine said earlier this month that 20 Kalibr sea-launched cruise missiles had been fired at Ukrainian territory overnight as part of a string of attacks carried out across the war-torn country.

There is still no end in sight for the war in Ukraine as Russia recently turned down a plea by Belarus, one of its strongest allies, to carry out peace talks with Ukraine.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday called for a "truce" in Ukraine and urged Russia to hold peace talks "without preconditions." However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed those calls when he told reporters the same day, "nothing is changing in the context of Ukraine."

Still, Lukashenko, a staunch supporter of Putin, warned against further escalation in the Russia-Ukraine war.

"We must stop now, before an escalation begins. I'll take the risk of suggesting an end of hostilities...a declaration of a truce," he said during a recent televised speech. "All territorial, reconstruction, security and other issues can and should be settled at the negotiation table, without preconditions."

Newsweek reached out by email to the Russian defense ministry for comment.

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