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Amid rising tensions and a surge in security threats, the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) find themselves under increasing pressure to enhance air defences over western Russia.
Recent months have witnessed a troubling expansion in the range of threats penetrating deep within Russian territory, prompting concerns within the Ministry of Defence.
The Ministry of Defence released a statement today highlighting the growing challenges faced by the VKS. According to the statement, the leadership of Russia’s Aerospace Forces is “highly likely under intense pressure” to improve air defence systems due to the increased frequency of strikes well inside Russian borders.
These attacks have exposed a vulnerability that needs to be addressed promptly.
The MoD suggested that the strategic importance of strikes deep within Russian territory has been underscored by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
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President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine was influenced by the assumption that such actions would have limited direct consequences for the Russian population. However, the recent breaches of Russian airspace have challenged this assumption, prompting a reassessment of the country’s defensive capabilities.
Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have become a recurring threat to Russian airspace, with reports indicating that they have targeted the capital city, Moscow. The use of UAVs for such operations signifies a concerning advancement in the tactics of adversarial forces.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence expressed concerns about reports of SA-5 GAMMON missiles being used to strike Russia. This particular Soviet-era missile, weighing 7.5 tonnes and measuring 11 meters in length, was previously retired from its air defence role in Ukraine’s inventory. Shockingly, it now appears to be repurposed as a ground attack ballistic missile, underlining the evolving threat landscape facing the VKS.
Amid these mounting challenges, the pressure to fortify air defence measures is expected to fall heavily on the shoulders of VKS Chief of Staff, Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov. The absence of VKS Commander-in-Chief General Sergei Surovikin, who is reportedly detained in relation to the June 2023 Wagner Group mutiny, has created a leadership vacuum that only intensifies the urgency for strategic decision-making within the VKS.
The statement read: “The leadership of Russia’s Aerospace Forces (VKS) is highly likely under intense pressure to improve air defences over western Russia. In recent months, the range of threats penetrating well inside Russia has increased.
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“Strikes deep inside Russia are strategically important because President Putin almost certainly invaded Ukraine on the assumption that it would have little direct effect on Russians.
“Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles are regularly hitting Moscow. In addition, there have also been increasing reports of SA-5 GAMMON missiles striking Russia.
“This Soviet-era 7.5 tonne, 11-metre long weapon is retired from its air defence role in Ukraine’s inventory. However, it is now apparently being employed as a ground attack ballistic missile.
“Pressure is likely to particularly fall on VKS Chief of Staff, Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov; VKS Commander-in-Chief General Sergei Surovikin remains absent, suspected to have been detained in relation to the June 2023 Wagner Group mutiny.”
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