The taboo finally fell. While Ukraine has been asking its Western allies for months for the means to strike the Russian army in depth, the United Kingdom has decided to deliver Storm Shadow missiles to Kiev, with a range of more than 250 kilometers. “These weapons systems give Ukraine the best chance to defend itself against Russia’s continued brutality”justified the British Minister of Defense, Ben Wallace, before the House of Commons, Thursday, May 11, confirming information from the American channel CNN.
Designed in the 1990s by the French Matra and the British British Aerospace, the Storm Shadow – called Scalp in the French armies – is a guided air-to-surface missile intended to strike fixed targets at long distance. Carrying an explosive charge of 450 kg, it can destroy so-called “hardened” installations, such as bunkers. It is also presented by its manufacturer, MBDA, as stealthy, which makes it difficult to intercept by anti-aircraft defenses. Equipping the French and British armies, it was used in Iraq, Libya or Syria to destroy ammunition depots, command centers or logistics sites.
Until now, Western countries have been reluctant to supply long-range weapons to kyiv, arguing that they could be used to strike Russian territory. The United States refuses in particular to deliver to the Ukrainians ATACMS missiles, a projectile fired from a Himars rocket launcher and whose range is estimated at 300 kilometers. But London would have received assurances that the Storm Shadows would only be used to target targets in Ukrainian territory, according to Anglo-Saxon media. “It is a calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations”defended Mr. Wallace, recalling that the Russians are firing Kalibr missiles at Ukraine with a range of more than 2,000 kilometers.
Dilemma for the Russians
Even if the number of Storm Shadow delivered is undoubtedly limited, taking into account the state of the Western stocks (that of the British is estimated at approximately 800 units), the simple fact that the Ukrainians have some will pose a dilemma to the Russians. “They will have to choose between leaving their strategic sites within firing range, with the risk that they will be destroyed, or moving them beyond 250 kilometers, which will hamper their conduct of the war”, explains a military source. Until now, the Ukrainians could only hit the Russians at a distance of 70 kilometers, which corresponds to the range of the Himars rocket launchers delivered by the West. kyiv does have drones to target more distant targets, but they can only carry a few tens of kilos of explosives.
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