Everyone is excited that Ukrainian drones attacked a Moscow southern suburb on May 30th, but the excitement is much ado about nothing. Those drones did little damage, according to Russian reports: There were no serious casualties; one building was evacuated temporarily as a precaution.
The drone attacks on Moscow were puny when compared with massive Russian attacks on Ukraine the night before. According to reports from Russia of what happened in Moscow:
“A drone hit the upper floors of a residential building on Profsoyuznaya Street 98. The façade and glazing of the house were destroyed. There were no casualties.”
“A drone also hit a 24-story residential building on Atlasova Street. The façade and glazing of the upper floors were destroyed. There were no casualties.”
A UAV carrying three explosives flew into an apartment on the 14th floor of a building in Leninsky Avenue, but failed to detonate.
Moscow’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that in all there were eight drones, of which five were shot down by the Pantsir air defense system and three jammed, thus going out of control and hitting the apartment buildings.
President Vladimir Putin had ordered Pantsir systems installed around Moscow this past January. A Pantsir system also was installed at the Putin summer residence in Sochi. Some of these installations are on rooftops, meaning that the Pantsir vehicles were removed for rooftop installations. By placing Pantsir on rooftops the field of view in urban areas is significantly improved
There is a video of one of the Pantsir units shooting down a drone over Moscow. That drone exploded in a fireball when it was hit.
According to Moscow, the type of drone is new and was produced by the Ukrainians. The Russians estimate these drones are long range and the drone’s wings were located on the drone body forward to allow the drone to carry more explosives.
Ukraine says it had nothing to do with the drone attack on Moscow. Ukrainian authorities also leaked that the drones were Chinese. Last year there were reports of some Chinese drones in Ukraine.
Most of those who saw this attack regarded it as retaliation for the intense drone and missile attacks on Kyiv. Concurrently with the drone attack on Moscow, the Ukrainians upped the shelling across the border areas in the direction of Belgorod, hitting at least three settlements.
The real action, however, was over Ukraine, where Russian drones and missiles pounded Kyiv and a number of other locations.
The map below (source: Rybar) shows the targets of the Russian attack on the 29th of May:
The attack was heavy and, apparently, effective. There are reports that the US Patriot system in Kyiv was destroyed. The Patriot system was supposed to be sited at the Kyiv Zhuliany Airport and also near the Kyiv Zoo. Another location allegedly struck that may be a Patriot site is the Vasylkiv military air base, which was previously destroyed by the Russians on March 12, 2022.
These reports are not confirmed as yet. Putin says that one of the successful Russian strikes was on the building in Kyiv housing Ukrainian military intelligence. According to the Russian government RT outlet, a number of Ukrainian command centers were destroyed in these attacks across the country.
One of the most important targets for the Russians was the 7th Tactical Air Brigade, which is based at a military airfield near Starokonstantinov in the Khmelnitsky area. The location in western Ukraine included Su-24M and Su-24 MR fighter-bomber jets that had been modified by the UK to carry Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
The Storm Shadow was developed by the UK and France and is a low-observable, long-range, air-launched cruise missile. It was designed by Matra BAe Dynamics. That company was formed in August 1996 by merger of half the missile business of Matra Defense of France and BAe Dynamics (a division of British Aerospace) of the UK Today Stormshadow is manufactured by MBDA Missile Systems. Stormshadow carries a 990 lb. (450 kg) conventional warhead. The cost per missile is $2.7 million.
Own goal? Darwin Award candidate?
A story going around says that Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and his UK counterpart, Ben Wallace, the UK secretary of state for defense, published a celebratory postcard showing a picture of an Su-24 sporting the Storm Shadow cruise missile. A problem arose, however, because the postcard also showed, in the upper right-hand corner, the insignia of the 7th Tactical Air Brigade, thus enabling the Russians to know which aircraft had the Storm Shadow and where they were based.
On May 29 the Russians attacked the 7th Tactical Air Brigade in Starokonstantinov. Five Su-24s were damaged or destroyed, and storage facilities for Storm Shadow missiles were hit in the Russian attack. It isn’t clear if this is the only Storm Shadow-equipped unit but, in any event, the loss of the aircraft and missiles is a significant blow to Ukraine.
The Russian attack was something – a big enough deal to inspire, in the words of the Bard, “much ado.”
Stephen Bryen is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and the Yorktown Institute. This article was originally published on his Substack, Weapons and Strategy. Asia Times is republishing it with permission.