The UK Defense Ministry’s November 26 intelligence update indicates that Russia’s decision to move air defense systems from Kaliningrad to Ukraine is a response to recent S-400 losses, emphasizing the strategic implications and stress on Russia’s military capabilities.
The ministry tweeted:
- Exceptional Russian air transport movements through November 2023 suggest that Russia has likely moved strategic air defence systems from its Baltic coast enclave of Kaliningrad, to backfill recent losses on the Ukraine front.
- This follows an uptick in losses of SA-21 [S-400] air defence systems in Russian-occupied Ukraine in late October 2023.
- As its most westerly outpost and bordered on three sides by NATO member states, Russia sees Kaliningrad as one of its most strategically sensitive regions. The fact that the Russian MoD appears willing to accept additional risk here highlights the overstretch the war has caused for some of Russia’s key, modern capabilities.
In one of October’s intelligence updates, the UK Defense Ministry noted that Ukrainian strikes likely took out four Russian long-range Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launchers, which exposed vulnerabilities in Russia’s air defense, heavily relying on advanced long-range SAM systems.
Earlier, the ministry reported that Russia’s integration of the A-50 radar plane and the S-400 surface-to-air missile system speeded up in response to anticipated Ukraine’s deployment of Western-provided combat aircraft.