A US Air Force B-52H strategic bomber flew to an offensive position near Goeland Island, 200 km from Russia's second largest city St. Petersburg, on March 12, local time, and conducted a simulated nuclear strike drill, Russian media reported.
It is reported that the B-52H fighter jet drill content is to break through the air defense and anti-missile system of Russia's northwest military district, and carry out nuclear missile attacks on the Russian military and other infrastructure. Russian media reported that the sudden "show of muscle" by the U.S. military may be a response to the destruction of NATO's "shadow staff" in Ukraine by Russian Dagger missiles on Tuesday.
Russia's 'rare' move:
Six Dagger missiles were fired in one go
On March 9, local time, Russian military fired 81 missiles across Ukraine, air defense sirens immediately sounded over Ukraine. Later, the Russian Defense Ministry said it was a response to the terrorist attack carried out by "Ukrainian saboteurs" who entered the Russian Bryansk region on February 2.
However, the exact target of the Russian strike and the damage it caused remained unclear because "Ukrainian authorities keep such information strictly confidential." However, it is worth noting that Russia fired six Dagger hypersonic missiles at a time into Ukraine in a "rare" move.
The Dagger reportedly has a range of up to 2,000km and a maximum speed of 10 times the speed of sound, making it extremely difficult to intercept. According to the Russian military, the combination of hypersonic missiles and heavy warheads allows them to destroy heavily fortified targets, such as underground bunkers or mountain tunnels. After Russia first used the missiles against Ukraine last year, U.S. President Joe Biden called them "nearly unstoppable."
Military analysts note that Russia has been using Daggers to strike targets in Ukraine since the conflict broke out, but "usually no more than two" and only at priority targets. The March 9 attack was marked by a marked increase in the number of Dagger missiles used by Russian forces, with six being fired in one go for the first time.
This "unusual" move has attracted attention from the outside world. "Why they used the dagger is an interesting question," Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said on Monday. "I don't see the obvious logic behind using it against Russian targets." He noted that the September 9 attack was "consistent with Russia's campaign to target energy facilities and infrastructure," but that it could have been done easily with other, cheaper weapons.
More than 300 people are stationed more than 80 meters underground
NATO's "shadow staff" in Ukraine is suspected to have been destroyed
Later, Russian media reports seemed to answer Kaushal's doubts. The report said that the Russian military fired one or more "Dagger" hypersonic missiles, most likely hit NATO's secret headquarters in Ukraine.
The report quoted a Ukrainian insider as saying the daggers hit bunkers, air defence systems and radar systems inside Ukraine, including one where NATO's "shadow staff" in Ukraine was operating. It serves as a "central" command post for the armed forces' weapons deployment, housing not only senior Ukrainian military officials but also foreign officers and military advisers from the United States and NATO.
Russian media reported that a large delegation from the Ukrainian government was spotted visiting the US Embassy in Kiev on March 9, local time. At the same time, at least 25 Ukrainian Internet accounts that mentioned the news were immediately blocked, "probably to keep it from getting out."
On March 12 local time, Greek Pronews reported, citing US sources, that a Russian hypersonic Dagger missile did indeed hit a joint Ukrainian-NATO control and communications center. The "horrific missile attack" was reported to have killed "dozens of NATO officers".
The secret bunker, reportedly located 80-120 metres underground near Lviv in western Ukraine, is a strategic command post used by NATO to control air defence systems. Of the more than 300 people stationed in the bunker, 40 were senior foreign experts, including retired NATO officers and advisers. "Most of them were British and Polish, but there were also Americans and representatives of private companies supporting communications and data transmission," he said.
So far, 40 people have been pulled alive from the rubble underground, though exactly how many were killed in the attack remains unknown. Reports say this is the first large-scale attack on NATO military personnel.
Western-supplied air defense systems were destroyed
And there were "officer casualties."
In addition, Russian Dagger missiles may have targeted U.S. Patriot and other air defense systems that Ukraine just received.
In an interview on March 7, Polish Defense Minister Alexander Blaszczak reportedly revealed that U.S. Patriot air defense systems had arrived in Ukraine. On March 9, Russia launched "retaliatory strikes against the military infrastructure of the Ukrainian armed forces". "Attempts to transfer the reserves of the Ukrainian armed forces and to transport foreign weapons by rail have been thwarted," the Defense Ministry later said in a statement.
Alexei Leonov, a Russian military expert, said the use of the expensive "Dagger" missiles may have targeted Ukrainian equipment received from NATO and stockpiled behind the lines, because it makes no sense to use the "Dagger" missiles against Ukrainian infrastructure such as electricity substations.
On March 12, the spokesman of Ukraine's "Southern" operational command Gumeniuk also admitted that one of the targets of the Russian attack on the 9th was to "search for Patriot air defense facilities". According to her account, the Russian military first sent drones to fire at certain targets, attracting the attention of Ukrainian air defenses. This was followed by massive missile strikes on various bases, followed by drones to test the "results". Finally, there was a new wave of missiles over Ukraine, including the Dagger.
A source said that important facilities such as IRIS-R air defense missile system and surface-to-air missile system (NASAMS) provided by the West were also hit and that "officers were killed and wounded."
Russian media reported that due to the complex operation of the Patriot missile system, Ukrainian military personnel could not realize its deployment, "American personnel have apparently arrived at the site to help the Ukrainian army deploy and bind it to the terrain, input preliminary data and Settings."
Red Star News reporter Xu Huan
Deng Yuguang edited Peng Jiang
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