Russian warships were spotted this week launching at least eight cruise missiles from the Black Sea towards Ukraine.
Videos shared on social media on Tuesday showed the missiles launching from at least one warship in the Black Sea.
According to USNI News, the missiles bear characteristics of Kalibr NK SS-N-30 missiles, which launch vertically before tilting their flight path about 90 degrees and flying in a relatively flat horizontal trajectory.
USNI News reported the recent launch videos also appear to line up with the movements of a Russian Project 11356R/М Admiral Grigorovich-class guided-missile frigate in the Black Sea. Independent ship spotters have tracked at least one such Russian frigate operating between Crimea and the waters off the coast of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby was asked about the reported cruise missile launches during a Tuesday press briefing.
“I’m not able to confirm that particular bit of reporting,” Kirby said. “What I can tell you is we have seen in the last, you know, 48 hours or so we have seen increased naval activity in the northern Black Sea. We have indications that in the Sea of Azov off Mariupol, that Russian naval vessels have contributed to the bombardment of Mariupol from the sea. But it’s difficult for us to quantify that and we can’t get to the level of detail about what munitions were used. But clearly in the last couple of days, there has been increased Russian naval activity in the Black Sea.”
Russia’s Ministry of Defence appeared to confirm some recent Kalibr cruise missile launches on Wednesday. The Russian military shared a video of several such cruise missiles launching from a Russian warship, with the translated caption, “The use of high-precision Kalibr missiles on Ukrainian military infrastructure objects. P.S. Never make a Russian warship angry!”
It was not immediately clear if the Russian military’s video depicted the same launches bystanders captured from land or yet another barrage of Kalibr missiles.
The Kalibr launches this week may not be the first time those particular weapons have seen use in the nearly month-long Ukraine invasion.
Another suspected Kalibr missile was captured on video earlier this month near Odessa.
Another suspected Kalibr impact was reported near the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv on March 16. The Russian government claims its Kalibr missiles have a range of about 900 miles, placing Kyiv within striking distance of such missiles from points in the Black Sea.
U.S. officials have assessed Russian forces may turn to increasingly powerful weapons to target Ukraine as its land forces have slowed their advances through the country.
“[The Russians] have been increasingly frustrated by a lack of progress,” Kirby said Tuesday. “Here it is day 27, and they haven’t taken Kyiv. They haven’t taken Kharkiv. They haven’t taken Chernihiv. They haven’t been able to isolate the Donbas area. The Ukrainians are fighting back very creatively, very bravely, and that’s not by accident, either.”