Russia initially invaded Ukraine in 2014 and caused a near collapse of its military from the destabilisation in Crimea and the Donbas region.
Learning lessons from the decades of corruption, pro-Russian collaborators, and Western indecision, Kyiv prepared its homegrown defence industry.
Ukraine has remained active while receiving large quantities of logistics from the West. Preparing their country to become Europe’s next military superpower, Ukraine has developed military capabilities that have successfully targeted essential Russian supply and command centres. One such weapon in Ukraine’s arsenal is their new 700km weapon.
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On August 31st, in a public broadcast, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Kyiv successfully struck a military target 700km away with a new long-range weapon. Though not specifying where the attack occurred, Ukraine has frequently hit targets inside Russia throughout the summer.
According to Zelensky’s telegram, this new weapon is produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries. Recent attacks against strategic targets located deep within Russia, such as the Pskov airbase and factories in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, suggest the missile could’ve been involved in one of those targets.
From the backdrop of Russia’s initial success in annexing Crimea and stocking the flames in the Donbas region, Ukraine restructured their defensive posture and prepared for the inevitable full-fledged invasion. Focusing on tackling corruption and returning to the roots of innovations that Ukrainians are known for, Kyiv concentrates on a state arms industry while lobbying for support.
Ukroboronprom, the current state arms producer, has led innovations during the ongoing war. Aside from the new undisclosed 700km weapon, Ukroboronprom introduced armed aerial drones with a range of 1000 km and seaborne drones up to 1200km, respectively.
Russian weapons depots, logistical centers, cargo ships, military barracks, and vital airfields such as Engels have all been successfully targeted thanks to Ukrainian adaptation and innovation.
Ukraine’s introduction of long-range missiles will have a vital impact on the war going forward. During Russia’s ongoing invasion, Ukraine is currently supplied with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) with a range of 82 km. Kyiv will also be provided with the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) later this year with a range of 150 km.
Alongside the current Storm-Shadow and SCALP missiles from the UK and France, the 700 homegrown KM bombs will strengthen deep target strikes.
Russian logistics for their invasion are located on their western border and occupied Crimea. Rostov, where the Russian Ministry of Defense commands the war and allocated wartime supplies, is currently within range of this new weapon.
Mass production of the new long-range arsenal would mean further degradation of Russian logistics and command and control sites, as most of their war effort is now within the scope of the overall battlefield. Already prioritizing air defence systems against Ukrainian drone attacks in Moscow, introducing the new drone or missile gives Kyiv a vital opportunity to put the Russian-occupied territories within firing range, including the Kerch Bridge and headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.
Supplementing Western military aid with its homegrown defence industry, Ukraine has successfully bypassed geopolitical indecision from its partners and allies. Putin has used threats of nuclear war and energy blackmail to hope for concessions from world leaders as the Kremlin looks to prolong the invasion, hoping Western aid will wane.
Whereas NATO countries restrict their weapons from being used inside Russian territory, Ukrainian homemade weaponry has no such clause. Kyiv now has an option of bypassing geopolitical bureaucracy as there are no Western blueprints of components on state-owned weaponry. Therefore, allied nations can disavow any Ukrainian operations on Russian territory as the Kremlin knows it can no longer hide Ukrainian adaptation and resilience.
With the new long-range missile alongside their aerial and seaborne drones, Ukraine has a failsafe option of continuous deep strikes on key Russian targets if Western aid were to slow in lieu of political pressure, such as the all-important 2024 US presidential elections and the potentially harmful political consequences of it.
Overall, introducing a homegrown 700km weapon is a potential game changer in the war in Ukraine. Still, it also shows the innovations and engineering of Ukrainians, who, even under heavy pressure, continue to adapt and overcome one of the most formidable militaries today.