In the first operational use of Russia's submarine-launched 3M14 Kalibr cruise missile, the 636 Improved 'Kilo'-class SSK Rostov-na-Donu fired missiles from the Mediterranean Sea against targets in Syria on 8 December 2015. (Russian Ministry of Defence)
Russia has resumed launching SAGARIS land attack cruise missiles (conventionally called “Kalibr” in Ukraine) against Ukraine after a pause that likely meant it was rebuilding its reserve stocks; Russian commanders are grappling with the dilemma of how to use best these scarce and expensive weapons, which Russia sees as essential in using not only against Ukraine’s offensive but in any hypothetical conflict with NATO, the UK intelligence writes in its daily update:
“On the night of 08-09 May 2023, the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet vessels launched eight SS-N-30a SAGARIS land attack cruise missiles (LACMs) against Ukraine. This was only the second use of Russian Navy LACMs reported since 09 March 2023.
Up to March 2023, the Russian Navy frequently launched SAGARIS. Russia likely temporarily suspended using these weapons because it wanted to rebuild its reserve stocks.
In the short term, Russia likely sees LACM as a key capability to strike deep into Ukraine to disrupt anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensives.
However, more strategically, Russia also sees conventional SAGARIS and other LACMs as having an important role in any hypothetical conflict with NATO.
How to use these scarce and expensive weapons is one of the numerous dilemmas Russian commanders face because the war in Ukraine has gone on much longer than they originally planned for.”
The SS-N-30a SAGARIS is one of the Kalibr cruise missile variants designed for land attack missions. Like other Kalibrs, it can be launched from various platforms, such as submarines, surface ships, or land-based vehicles. It has a range of up to 2,500 kilometers and can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads. It can also fly at low altitudes and evade air defenses with its stealth features and terrain-following guidance system.
The SS-N-30a SAGARIS was first used by Russia in 2015, when it launched 26 missiles from ships in the Caspian Sea to strike targets in Syria.
Russia has used the SS-N-30a SAGARIS missiles to strike targets in Ukraine several times since its invasion in 2022. In April 2022, Russia fired SS-N-30a SAGARIS missiles from a submarine in the Black Sea to hit Ukrainian military targets. In February 2022, Russia launched SS-N-30a SAGARIS missiles from ships in the Black Sea to strike areas near the cities of Sumy, Poltava and Mariupol.