Return to sender! Russian missile U-turns and smashes into troops who fired it in malfunction
A video has surfaced of a rogue Russian air-defense missile launched from a salvo in the Luhansk region, spinning 180 degrees in the sky and hitting almost the exact location from which it was launched.
The video is said to have been shot in the early hours of this morning near the town of Alchevsk, about 85 miles south of Severodonetsk, where the fiercest fighting has raged.
Reports indicate that the air defense missile system – possibly an S300 – was operated by Ukrainian pro-Russian separatists from the breakaway People’s Republic of Luhansk.
The cause of the outage is not clear, with some speculating that it could be due to a hacking or jamming by a loitering Ukrainian drone, although this is considered unlikely.
The video shows the rocket causing a large explosion on impact, engulfing the area with a bright cascade of sparks, believed to be caused by the rocket’s fuel exploding and not being used up during its flight.
The unverified video shows a volley of anti-aircraft missiles being fired into the night sky
But one of them decides to change plans and makes a stunning 180 degree U-turn in the sky
And then hits with a furious impact almost directly into the place it was fired from
According to local media reports, a fire broke out not far from residential buildings. There were no reports of casualties from Russian and separatist troops in the accident.
A similar incident occurred in Saudi Arabia in 2018, when a US-made Patriot air defense missile fired to intercept ballistic missiles fired by the Yemeni Houthi militia malfunctioned, flipped over and crashed into a residential area in northeastern Riyadh.
Ukraine has had significant success during the three-month war deploying loitering drones — most notably Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 drone — to hit targets, something Russia’s vaunted anti-aircraft missile systems have struggled to eliminate.
But Russia has had much more success with its concentrated artillery barrage and using them to slowly push back Ukrainian positions in Severodonetsk, at the expense of the virtually ground-like city.
In response, Ukraine is demanding high-precision long-range artillery rocket systems from the West, as their own artillery runs out of ammunition and Russia is constantly attacking their ammunition factories and warehouses.
The largest amount of military systems and other aid has come from the United States, which has announced it will send an additional $450 million in new weapons, including four HIMARS missile systems.
The systems can simultaneously launch multiple precision missiles at a greater range of 80 kilometers, providing capabilities that Ukraine sorely lacks in the raging battlefields around Severodonetsk and Lysychansk to the east.
Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, tweeted yesterday: ‘HIMARS has arrived in Ukraine. Thanks to my US colleague and friend, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools! Summer is getting hot for the Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them.’
US military personnel stand near an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in Saudi Arabia
The US is cooperating with Ukraine’s demands to provide accurate long-range weapon systems like the HIMAR to match and surpass Russia on the battlefield
The Himars use precision guided munitions with a range of about 80 kilometers
The Ukrainian army is being forced to withdraw from Severodonetsk, according to a senior Ukrainian official, as a result of a brutal Russian offensive that reduces the city to rubble on the battlefield with massive heavy artillery shelling that the Ukrainians can’t match.
“Ukraine has one artillery piece for every 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces,” said Vadym Skibitsky, deputy chief of Ukrainian military intelligence two weeks ago, “and we are losing in artillery.”
‘Everything now depends on what’ [the west] us,” said Skibitsky. ‘Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our western partners have given us about 10% of what they have.’
Capturing Severodonetsk, in the Donbas region, has become a major goal of the Russians who are targeting eastern Ukraine after being driven out of Kiev following their invasion in February.
The strategically important industrial center has been the scene of weeks of street fighting as the underprivileged Ukrainians fiercely defended themselves.
But Sergiy Gaiday – governor of Lugansk, to which the city also belongs – said the Ukrainian army should withdraw.
“They have been ordered to do this,” he said on Telegram.
“It just doesn’t make sense to stay in positions that have been fired on relentlessly for months.”
The city has been turned “almost to rubble” by constant bombing, he added.
Lugansk Governor Sergiy Gaiday said Ukrainian troops around Severodonetsk have been ordered to withdraw because it doesn’t make sense to remain in positions that have been fired on relentlessly.
Ukrainian soldiers move to a position in the city of Severodonetsk under heavy bombardment by Russian troops
Severodonetsk ‘reduced to rubble’ by Russian army concentrated heavy artillery shelling
‘All vital infrastructure has been destroyed. Ninety percent of the city is damaged, 80 percent (of the) houses will have to be demolished,” he said.
The Ukrainians had already been driven back from much of the city, leaving them with only the industrial areas.
Conquering Severodonetsk and its sister city Lysychansk, Severodonetsk’s sister city across the Donets River, would give the Russians control of Lugansk and allow them to advance further into the wider Donbas.
Gaiday said the Russians are now advancing towards Lysychansk, which is under increasing pressure from Russia.
The situation for those who remain in the city became increasingly bleak.
Liliya Nesterenko said her house had no gas, water or electricity and that she and her mother were cooking on a campfire. She was cycling down the street and had come out to feed a friend’s pets.
But the 39-year-old was optimistic about the city’s defence: ‘I believe in our Ukrainian army, it should be able to handle it.
“They’ve already prepared.”
A representative of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine previously told AFP that the resistance of Ukrainian troops trying to defend Lysychansk and Severodonetsk was “pointless and pointless”.