Putin’s weapon stock ‘depleted’ as Russia ‘firing old nuclear missiles with warheads removed’
- span class="xray-entity-title-link">Vladimir PutinPresident of Russia
- Vladimir Putin’s weapons arsenal is so “depleted” that Russia appears to be removing the nuclear warheads from ageing cruise missiles and firing the unarmed munitions at Ukraine, the UK has said. Aside from the impact caused by the speed of the missiles and the combustion of any unspent fuel, such weapons are unlikely to achieve reliable effects against Moscow’s intended targets, the Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update. The Kremlin is almost certainly hoping that such missiles “will function as decoys and divert Ukrainian air defences”, London believes. Whatever Moscow’s intent, “this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia’s stock of long-range missiles”, the ministry said on Saturday. The department cited open-source footage showing the wreckage of an AS-15 KENT air-launched cruise missile, designed in the 1980s exclusively as a nuclear delivery system and apparently shot down in Ukraine. The claims come as Kyiv accused Russia of incessantly shelling Kherson – the only regional capital seized by Russia during its invasion, which it abandoned earlier this month. The head of the local administration said on Friday that 15 people had been killed and 35 wounded in six days. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants were reconnected to the grid on Friday after they all lost off-site power for the first time in the nation’s history as a result of Russian attacks, according to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). That included the Zaporizhzhia plant – Europe’s largest – which was seized by Russia early in Mr Putin’s now nine-month war, and Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident. Despite Ukrainian authorities reporting that they were gradually restoring power on Friday, the country’s grid operator said that 30 per cent of electricity supplies were still offline, leaving some six million people without energy. The situation led the UN human rights chief Volker Turk to warn that “millions are being plunged into extreme hardship and appalling conditions of life”.