The Ukrainian military persists with its long-range strike campaign deep behind the frontlines. Kyiv’s latest victim was the Russian Askold Project 22800 Karakurt class corvette that the Ukrainians struck last week.
This is yet another strike that took place in Crimea, showcasing Ukraine’s desire to extend combat operations in the occupied peninsula.
Another one bites the dust
Last week, the Ukrainian military launched a salvo of cruise missiles against Russian positions in Crimea. This time around, the target was the Karakurt corvette under construction in a shipyard in Kerch.
As a result of the attack, the vessel was “almost certainly damaged” after Ukrainian missiles struck it while it lay in the Zaliv shipyard in Kerch, in occupied Crimea, the British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate of the war.
About 155 miles from the frontlines, the latest strike is farther to the east in the Crimean Peninsula than usual. The Ukrainian military has mainly focused its long-range strikes against Russian positions on the occupied Crimean Peninsula to the west and southwest.
The Russian warship was launched in 2021 and hadn’t been yet commissioned when the attack took place.
“Ukraine’s capability to hit Crimean shipbuilding infrastructure will likely cause Russia to consider relocating farther from the front line, delaying the delivery of new vessels,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Over the past few weeks, the Ukrainians have really brought the war to Russian forces in Crimea. Successive long-range strikes against logistical nodes, military headquarters, bases, and infrastructure have destroyed an attack submarine, a landing ship, an advanced S-400 air-defense system, and killed and wounded several high-ranking officers.
These strikes showcase Ukraine’s ability to reach far and inflict serious costs on Russia, but they also reveal the inability of the Russian military to defend against advanced Western munitions.
Western weapon systems and the liberation of Crimea
The Ukrainian military and military intelligence have been working together to inflict heavy losses and humiliating strikes on the Russian forces.
Western weapon systems have been crucial to the Ukrainian efforts to target and strike Russian high-value targets deep behind the front lines.
The United Kingdom led the way and sent Ukraine Storm Shadow air-to-ground cruise missiles over the summer. France followed soon after with the SCALP-EG air-to-ground cruise missile and cousin of the Storm Shadow.
The U.S. finally followed the example of its European allies and gave Ukraine a small number of MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS.
These long-range weapon systems have given the Ukrainian military the ability to weaponize its strategic intent and reach far to systematically dismantle Russian logistical nodes and create operational problems for Moscow. They also continue to keep Kyiv’s hopes of liberating Crimea alive.
The large-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive that began in June failed to reach the gates of Crimea. But the Ukrainian forces continue to prepare the operational environment by attacking Russian targets in the peninsula. Whether the Ukrainian forces reach Crimea is hard to assess at this point in time.
There was real hope that the Ukrainian counteroffensive would manage to pierce through the Russian defenses in southern Ukraine and the Donbas and sever the Russian forces in Ukraine into two chunks. However, Moscow’s defenses proved to be a tough nut to crack: Miles upon miles of minefields, fortified villages, anti-tank obstacles, drones, artillery, and tactical aviation absorbed the Ukrainian attacks and prevented an operational breakthrough that would put the Ukrainian military within striking range of Crimea.
Long-range strikes against Russian positions in Crimea might be revealing Kyiv’s strategic desire, but to translate that desire into concrete results, the Ukrainian military needs to advance on the ground.
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