Russia Loads Caliber Cruise Missiles Onto Two Submarines
UKRAINE - Russia loaded two of their six Varshavyanka submarines anchored in the South Bay of Sevastopol with Kaliber class cruise missiles, according to Kyrm.Realii (Crimea.Realities) , a RFE/RL's Ukrainian news service.
Caliber class cruise missiles are capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload of explosive, or thermonuclear warhead, and is able to be launched at targets both on the ground and at sea, and have a range of about 870 miles when launched from a submarine, according to a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017.
Although some media alluded that the Caliber class missiles may be meant to counter a threat from the United States after reports that the U.S. had been preparing to target the Russian fleet in order to clear the way for Ukrainian ships to be able to export their grain, Washington had stated that these reports were not true.
The Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko had stated last week that the United States was preparing to destroy Russia's fleet in the Black Sea, saying "The effective work of the Ukrainians on warships convinced (the USA) to prepare a plan to unblock the ports. Deliveries of powerful anti-ship weapons (Harpoon and Naval Strike Missile with a range of 250-300 km) are being discussed".
On Tuesday however, a Ukrainian defense minister stated that the Russian Black Sea Fleet was planning to use the Caliber class missiles to carry out a strike on targets within Ukrainian territory.
"Now the ship's composition is used to strike with cruise missiles, this is a clear combat duty - two frigates, four small missile ships, two submarines, constantly on combat duty and constantly striking our territory using Caliber cruise missiles" Vadym Skibitsky, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense in Ukraine stated.
Newsweek reported that a spokesman from the United States State Department last week and said that the U.S. Military has 'changed with the changing developments in the Black Sea', as well as the delivery of security and assistance to the country.
"As the conflict is changing, so too is our military assistance to deliver the critical capabilities Ukraine needs for today's fight as Russia's forces engage in a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine" the spokesman told Newsweek.
"We are the world's leading provider of security assistance to Ukraine in its hour of need, and we are encouraging Allies and partners worldwide to do the same".
Oleksandr Motuzianyk, who is a spokesman for the Ukrainian defense ministry said that "Two ships with a total volley of up to 16 '3M-54 Kalibr' missiles are ready for use in the Black Sea".
Newsweek reports that there are about 20 Russian vessels blocking Ukrainian ships from leaving in order to export their goods.