Russia is likely moving expensive air defense systems from Kaliningrad to Ukraine, according to British intelligence.
Kaliningrad is one of Russia’s most “strategically sensitive” western outposts, according to intelligence.
The shift in the enclave’s air defenses shows how Russia has been strained by the war, according to intelligence.
Russia has likely redeployed several of its famous S-400 missile systems from Kaliningrad to the Ukrainian front line, the British Ministry of Defense announced on Sunday.
This is a sign that the Kremlin has effectively sacrificed its air defense capabilities along NATO borders to be able to replace losses in Ukraine, where at least three S-400 systems were reportedly destroyed by Kiev.
In a updating informationthe British Ministry of Defense cited “exceptional Russian airlift movements” through November that indicate Moscow moved the S-400s from Kaliningrad “to make up for recent losses on the Ukrainian front.”
The Russian enclave of Kaliningrad is nestled above northern Poland and is geographically separated from the rest of mainland Russia. It also shares land borders with Lithuania to the east, while Denmark lies to the west, across the Baltic Sea.
The transfer of the S-400s from Kaliningrad would therefore be significant, the Defense Ministry said.
“As its westernmost outpost and bordered on three sides by NATO member states, Russia considers Kaliningrad one of its most strategically sensitive regions,” wrote the Ministry of Defense.
If Russia is willing to withdraw its defenses in Kaliningrad, it shows that “the war has severely tested some of Russia’s modern and key capabilities,” he adds.
The S-400 Triumf missile systems, also known as the SA-21, are long-range surface-to-air systems designed to destroy aircraft and missiles.
They generally consist of radars, a mobile command post and missile launch platforms. The S-400s have been touted by Russia as a technological rival to the US Patriot missile system, and are estimated to be priced at $500 million each.
The British Ministry of Defense predicted on November 9 that Russia should begin moving S-400s along its borders to compensate for air defense losses in Ukraine caused by recent strikes.
According to the statement, these strikes show that Russia’s integrated air defense system is struggling to defend itself against modern weapons supplied to Ukraine.
The United States supplied Kiev with around 20 military tactical missile systems, while the United Kingdom and France sent Storm Shadow and SCALP-EG long-range cruise missiles.
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