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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Fast, but not precise

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In the fourth week of the war in Ukraine, the front lines on the ground did not change significantly. The conflict becomes a war of position and attrition.

Now it can be decisive who runs out of military equipment first, the Russian attackers or the Ukrainian defenders. And who is more successful with their psychological warfare.

Russia used its “Kinschal” (dagger) hyper-fast missile for the first time, apparently also to psychologically influence the West. According to Kremlin propaganda, it is a kind of silver bullet intended to demonstrate technical superiority. NATO has no defenses. It can carry nuclear warheads.

Meanwhile, the EU is increasing funding for arms aid to Ukraine at its meeting of foreign ministers to €1 billion. This has been talked about for days.

Military expert Gressel: Russia has no technical advantage

One “must not be too afraid” of “Kinschal”, says Gustav Gressel, a military expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). The increased speed of the missile makes it harder to defend, but it is bought with lower accuracy.

The images that Russia presents as proof of the success of the operation do not show the ammunition depot that they supposedly wanted to attack. Nor is it true that Russia has a head start in developing hyper-fast weapons. On the other hand, the US is more likely to be ahead.

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However, his research places more importance on accuracy. So far, the US has not equipped its missiles of this type with nuclear weapons, but only with conventional weapons.

Moscow consumes weapons of confrontation faster than it can produce

The term “hypersonic weapon” is also misleading. The rockets, which are not designated as such, also fly faster than the speed of sound.

Russia first unveiled the Kinshah in 2018. It is based on the “Iskander” missile, Gressel explains, but has a more powerful engine and is launched not from a ramp on the ground, but from an aircraft traveling faster than sound. .

This increases the initial speed, but decreases the accuracy compared to the “Iskander”. In the Kinzhal case, Russia has never provided verifiable information about what was targeted and what was hit.

According to Gressel, the use of the “Kinzhal” could also indicate that the supply of “Iskander” missiles will soon run out. In the first four weeks of the war, Russia used around 900 standoff weapons such as the Iskander, the Soviet-era predecessor, the Toschka and Kalibr cruise missiles.

The “Kinschal” is important for nuclear deterrence

This shows, first of all, that he is afraid of Ukrainian air defenses and avoids attacks by fighter jets. And secondly, that the stock is running out. It is estimated that Russia has been able to produce one such rocket per week for the past several years and had “a few hundred in stock” when the war began.

The “Kinschal” is of strategic importance in nuclear deterrence because it is difficult to intercept, says Gressel. On the contrary, “Russian defense against US hypersonic cruise missiles does not have a good chance either.” Your own vulnerability raises the threshold of inhibition.


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