Crimean air defenses weakened post-Belbek strike – UK intelligence

Satellite image of the attack on the airfield in Belbek
Satellite image of the attack on the airfield in Belbek

Recent strikes have led to a deterioration in Russia's ability to defend the airspace around occupied Crimea, while demonstrating Ukraine's ability to influence Russian air defense operations, the British Defense Ministry said in its report on May 18.

Read also: Russians seek safe launch sites after strike on Belbek airbase

The attack on the Belbek Airfield in Crimea on May 15 was the fourth time in the last month that Russian air defense in Crimea suffered losses: earlier, the Ukrainian Armed Forces struck the Ai-Petri air defense radar station and twice attacked the airfield in Dzhankoy.

It is very likely that this will lead to Russia being forced to disperse its aircraft to ensure its survival or risk losing more assets, UK intel notes. In addition, the aggressor state will be forced to redeploy air defense assets from other locations.

The dispersal of A-50s from Crimean airfields is likely to increase the number of flight hours and the frequency of fighter jets to fill the gaps in coverage, which will increase the maintenance problems of their fleets.

Recent attacks and responses at Belbek airfield

Explosions near the Belbek airfield in the early hours of May 15 led to multiple fires, as reported by the Crimean Wind monitoring channel. The satellite data indicated increased fire activity around the runway and aircraft stands.

In response to the attacks, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed to have intercepted 10 ATACMS missiles over Crimea. Mikhail Razvozhayev, the appointed "governor" of Sevastopol by Russian authorities, declared that a "massive attack" on Sevastopol had been thwarted.

Defence Express, a military news outlet, suggested that Ukrainian Defense Forces may have targeted Russian MiG-31 fighters parked at the Belbek airfield with ATACMS missiles during these strikes.

Read also: Fires break out at Belbek airfield in Russian-occupied Crimea after overnight missile strikes

Further disturbances were reported on the evening of May 15, with sounds of explosions again permeating Crimea. Local occupation authorities confirmed that air defenses were activated. Additionally, the Atesh guerrilla movement claimed responsibility for "successful attacks" on Russian military targets in Crimea.

Atesh agents at the Belbek military airfield reported a precise hit and hours of subsequent detonation of the main missile and artillery depot (military unit 80189).

This depot reportedly housed most of the missiles for Su-27, Su-30 and MiG-31 aircraft that Russia launches at Ukrainian cities.

Read also: Ukraine destroys Russian S-300 at Belbek airfield in Crimea with ATACMS missiles

The guerrillas also recorded significant damage to the airfield's infrastructure as a result of secondary detonation.

Two MiG-31 fighters were destroyed in an attack on the Belbek airfield on May 15, the Russian Telegram channel ASTRA reported. A fuel and lubricant depot also burned down. 11 Russian soldiers were also injured.

Also, according to ASTRA, in the morning a missile hit the S-400 Triumph air defense system near the village of Vyshneve. After the attack, the weapon caught fire. Two Russians were reportedly killed and two others were injured.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine