Russia fired long-range missiles at Lviv on Sunday, hitting Ukraine’s international military training center in strikes that were likely fired from one or more Black Sea submarines, the Ukraine’s Air Command said in a post to Facebook.
A senior U.S. defense official confirmed the attack Monday, saying that about a half-dozen missiles had caused “minor damage to a few buildings,” but adding that the Pentagon could not yet independently confirm the missiles were submarine-launched.
Ukraine’s Air Command said it intercepted two of the missiles.
Russia has a half-dozen Kilo-class submarines in the Black Sea. Launching a land-attack missile from a submarine can reduce the amount of time a defender has to react, but there is little advantage in using subs instead of missile trucks in Russian-controlled Crimea to strike Lviv, said Bryan Clark, a former Navy submariner who is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology at the Hudson Institute. So their use likely underscores that Russian stockpiles are dwindling.
“They’ve sort of been holding them in reserve until now,” Clark said. “This is mostly a reflection that they are running out of missiles.”
For weeks, Pentagon officials have been noting that Russia is running through its precision guided munitions and, due to sanctions, will have a difficult time resupplying.
“We do assess that they are running through their precision guided missiles munitions at a pretty fast clip,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said last week. “We know that in Mariupol, for instance, their use of of munitions has migrated from almost all precision guided to a significant number of what we would call dumb bombs: non-precision guided munitions.
“We believe that the sanctions are part of this because it’s harder for Mr. Putin to get the kinds of components that make up precision guided munitions and his defense industrial base is having trouble keeping up with that,” Kirby said.
Russia has fired about a dozen ship-launched missiles into Ukraine, and has previously reported it fired submarine-launched Kalibr cruise missiles at Ukrainian ground targets. But if Ukraine does verify the launch, “this would be the first time there’s been a confirmed use of submarine-launched cruise missiles in this conflict,” Clark said.
In April, the Pentagon ceased to offer its estimates of the number of Russian missiles fired into Ukraine.
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