Australian Citizens Party Citizens Taking Responsibility



Nuclear war danger escalates: Kiev, NATO’s catspaw, claims attack on Russian strategic radars

28 May—Four years ago, on 2 June 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree titled “Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence”. The updated statement of Russian policy includes a section on the conditions under which Russia could use nuclear weapons. One of these conditions is the following:

"attack by adversary against critical governmental or military sites of the Russian Federation, disruption of which would undermine the nuclear forces’ retaliatory actions".

On 24 May reports surfaced in Ukrainian social media accounts, that Kiev had carried out a strike on just such a military facility in Russia—the early-warning strategic radar at Armavir in southern Russia’s Krasnodar Territory. The Armavir facility is an advanced, phased-array radar of the Voronezh-DM type, one of ten such radar stations which are Russia’s ground-based warning system against nuclear missile attack (Map, this page). The posts included photos of the Armavir structures showing damage, and a drone-approach video.

According to unofficial Russian published summaries of the reports, the Armavir antennas were damaged by drones on the night of 22-23 May. The Russian military news site, in an English-language blog post, wrote: “Ukrainian troops continue their aggressive campaign against strategically important targets on Russian territory. This time, their target was the Voronezh-DM strategic long-range detection radar station of the missile attack warning system, located in Armavir. The distance of the station from the Ukrainian border is more than 450 kilometres, which indicates a significant range of Ukrainian drones”.

A source “within the Ukrainian intelligence community” told the Bloomberg news agency 25 May that Armavir was “hit by a drone launched by Ukraine’s military intelligence on Thursday [23 May]”. The head of Kiev’s military intelligence agency HUR (or GUR) is Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, who publicly boasts of specialising in “asymmetrical” countermeasures while Ukrainian troops are being demolished on the battlefield. These have included HUR coordination of assassinations deep within Russia, as in the car-bomb killing of journalist Darya Dugina in 2022.

Yesterday, the Kyiv Independent reported on another Ukrainian intelligence source, this time identified as from the HUR itself, who took credit for an even longer-range strike against a second strategic radar, at Orsk near the Russia-Kazakhstan border. This drone would have travelled a “recordbreaking” 1,800 km, according to the claim. The news service of the US government’s Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty disseminated poor-resolution satellite photos, purporting to show damage to ground locations near the Orsk radar.

There has been no official confirmation of the damage to Armavir or the attack on Orsk from Russia or the United States, both of which have the satellite imaging capability to know what happened. Some Russian military bloggers maintain that the Armavir images are fakes. Victor Litovkin, an experienced Russian military analyst, told Tsargrad-TV on 27 May that the damage to Armavir was “bad, but not critical” for Russian security.

Whatever may prove to have happened—whether a longdistance drone attack, drones launched locally, or even fakery—the report of the Armavir attack is a qualitative escalation of tension in an already fraught showdown between NATO and Russia. The regime in Kiev, ever since the February 2014 coup which overthrew Ukraine’s elected President, is beholden to the United States, the European Union and NATO. The most militant US/NATO “party of war” figures use Ukraine as their tool to fight Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated bluntly to the Moscow Non-proliferation Conference, held in April, how the Russian leadership sees the resulting situation: “Today, the United States and their NATO client states are still dreaming of inflicting ‘a strategic defeat’ of Russia…. At the same time, the West is balancing on the dangerous edge of a direct military confrontation between nuclear powers, which could have catastrophic consequences.”

Blinding Armavir?

Veronezh phased array
Ten “Voronezh” phased-array radar stations are situated around the borders of the Russian Federation. The Armavir and Orsk stations are outlined in blue. The pink wedges show the “coverage” area of each radar. The caption on this map, from a post to the Russian “Aftershock” blog, identifies the Voronezh-DM’s range of 6,000 km, vertical range of 4,000 km (well into outer space), and ability to track 500 objects simultaneously.

The commentary continued, “Strikes against objects of strategic importance not only cause material damage, but also create serious threats to Russia’s national security. It is obvious that Ukraine is not acting independently, but with the support of Western partners who provide intelligence and technological assistance…. Western countries supporting Ukraine are actually participating in the escalation of the conflict by providing technology and intelligence for attacks on Russian targets. Such support contributes to the continuation of hostilities and the deepening of the crisis, which undermines efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict.”

Russian Sen. Dmitri Rogozin, who previously served as ambassador to NATO (2008-11) and presidential special envoy for missile defence issues, was one of the few officials to address the Armavir reports publicly. On his Telegram channel on 25 May, Rogozin observed that the United States had “never been able to achieve military-strategic superiority over Moscow”, but had shifted to “hiring an irresponsible bandit” (Kiev) for the task.

“Of course”, Rogozin continued, “one could admit the possibility that Kiev launched that strike on its own initiative. But, considering how deeply Washington is involved in the conflict, the version that the USA did not know about Kiev’s plans to strike Russia’s anti-missile defence can be discarded. Now Washington will have to answer ‘in full’. We are standing not even just on the threshold, but already on the very precipice, beyond which, … an irreversible collapse of strategic security of the nuclear powers begins.”

Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Bosshard, of the Swiss Armed Forces, provided an equally dire assessment of the reported drone attack on the Armavir radar. He told a Schiller Institute representative, “The attack on the Russian early warning system can hardly be interpreted by the Russian leadership in any other way than as an attempt to partially blind Russia against an attack on its territory by nuclear ballistic missiles. This will be viewed as a further trial run for a surprise nuclear first strike against Russia, and could force the Russian leadership to take counterstrike measures even in case of an unclear overview of the situation. This will also affect the Middle East situation, where Iran may find itself in a similar situation facing a potential joint attack by the United States and Israel. This shows once again that the war in Ukraine has, for a long time, been nothing else but a global ‘chicken game’ at the edge of nuclear war.”

The particulars of the Armavir station, as well as overall issues related to Russia’s early warning system, bear out Bosshard’s warning. As the map shows, the Armavir antennas point to the south and southwest, covering an area that encompasses the Eastern Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East including Israel, Iran, and the Arabian Sea and the western Indian Ocean.

In October 2022 the American Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS West Virginia surfaced in the Arabian Sea. The sub surfaced to take aboard US Central Command chief Gen. Michael Kurilla, but its appearance suggested to Russian observers that the USA was sending a message about the threat it can pose to Russian strategic forces from this direction. The Ohio-class subs are the weapons-carriers that would be used in a “first strike” against Russia. Russian strategic analysts have paid much attention to US warplanners’ development of a so-called “pre-emptive disarming strike” capability, sometimes called “pre-emptive decapitation”: it means destroying Russia’s deterrent forces, initiating nuclear war without Russia’s being able to launch its missiles in retaliation.

Nuclear weapons expert Prof. Theodore Postol, retired from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, warned during a March 2022 discussion hosted by the American Committee for US-Russia Accord, that existing shortfalls in Russian early warning capabilities were shortening decision times whether or not to launch before Russia’s retaliatory forces are destroyed on the ground. “Because of the ever increasing firepower of US nuclear forces, and the severe technical shortfalls in Russian space-based sensing technologies, Russia has been forced into a doomsday posture where under certain conditions its nuclear forces will be launched automatically”, he said in a slide for that presentation.

Obviously, blinding Armavir or any of Russia’s other Voronezh radars would heighten that risk.

NATO flight forward

Armavir damage
This photo circulating in Ukrainian social media purports to show drone damage to the Voronezh-DM radar at Armavir, Russia.

The Armavir and Orsk incidents have come in an already tense situation, in which more and more NATO war party leaders are howling for “giving permission” to Kiev to strike within Russian territory using NATO-supplied weapons. We reported in the Australian Almanac in the AAS of 15 and 22 May, “NATO careens towards nuclear war with Russia”, on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announcement of unprecedented field exercises of non-strategic, so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons in southwestern areas of Russia. The first round of those practices have now taken place; a second round, with participation by Belarus, will follow shortly.

The Foreign Ministry stated that French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron, especially, had brought on those measures by openly pushing, respectively, for the deployment of French troops to Ukraine and for giving Kiev a free hand in where to aim their NATOsupplied missiles.

In the three weeks since then, such reckless campaigning for escalation has only increased, from the NATO side and from Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev (whose term of office was supposed to expire 20 May). Ukraine’s battlefield losses are soaring. Russia has moved forces into an area along the border north of Ukraine’s northeastern city, Kharkov, in what Russian President Putin has declared is a drive to establish a buffer zone to protect the Russian city of Belgorod, located close across the border, whose residential areas and surrounding towns have been relentlessly bombed by the Ukrainians from Kharkov. Rushing forces to the Kharkov front since midMay, the manpower-strapped Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are being driven back in half a dozen other areas of fighting.

On 24 May NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in an interview with the London Economist, called on the USA to allow the Kiev regime to attack Russia directly with US-supplied long-range weapons, the so-called ATACMS (range up to 300 km). “The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they have put on the use of weapons they have donated to Ukraine”, he said. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, a key figure in picking fights with Russia ever since 1992 when he led the drive to get Poland into NATO (in contravention of US promises in 1990 that the alliance would move “not one inch eastward”), threw more gasoline on the fire the next day in an interview with the Guardian. He called for the EU and NATO to fight more diligently against Russia and not to worry about Russian nuclear weapons. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, after a 14 May visit to Kiev, chimed in by saying it was up to Kiev, where to aim the donated missiles—“ultimately Ukraine has to make decisions for itself about how it’s going to conduct this war.”

In remarks today after a state visit in Uzbekistan, Putin mused that Stoltenberg “had not appeared to be suffering from dementia” some years ago, when as PM of Norway he and Putin successfully negotiated border issues. He went on to underscore that all the long-range strike systems under discussion for Ukraine or already in the hands of the AFU require skilled personnel, i.e. from the donor countries, to operate them. It is no secret that NATO officers are already on the ground in Ukraine, not only as “trainers”, but engaged in combat.

A 25 May press release from the international Schiller Institute, titled “RED ALERT: Ukrainian Strike on Russian Early Warning Radar Threatens to Unleash Nuclear World War”, quotes an array of strategic experts who, unlike Stoltenberg, Sikorski, and Blinken, are sane about the magnitude of danger in the current showdown, and the need to stop it.

By Rachel Douglas, Australian Alert Service, 29 May 2024

Page last updated on 31 May 2024