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Satellite imagery captures damage to Russian military facility in occupied Luhansk

Newly released satellite imagery reveals damage to a reported Russian repair base at a machine-building plant in occupied Luhansk, where Ukraine’s Air Force claimed a Russian command center was hit.
Satellite imagery captures damage to Russian military facility in occupied Luhansk

Newly released satellite imagery has captured the aftermath of a missile attack on a reported Russian military facility at an industrial site in the occupied city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

The satellite photos, obtained by RFE/RL’s investigative project Skhemy, show damage to the Luhansk 100th Machine-Building Plant, a facility that local sources claimed was being used by Russian forces to repair and maintain military equipment.

Aftermath of the April 13 missile strike on a Russian facility in occupied Luhansk. Image: Planet Labs, captions: Skhemy, Google-translated.

According to the satellite imagery, at least one building of the plant was heavily damaged, likely as the result of an air strike. The attack on the facility was first reported on social media on April 13, with initial videos from the scene showing plumes of thick, black smoke rising over the city.

A Russian facility in occupied Luhansk before the April 13 missile attack. Image: Planet Labs, captions: Skhemy, Google-translated.

RFE/RL’s Donbas Realii video established that it was the Luhansk Machine-Building Plant-100 that was hit,” Skhemy reported.

A source in Luhansk confirmed to RFE/RL that the machine-building plant was indeed being used by Russian army personnel, underscoring the strategic importance of the target.

However, Ukraine’s Armed Forces Strategic Communications Center reported one the same attack, claiming that the command center of the Russian Army’s “Center” troop grouping was hit in occupied Luhansk on 13 April.

The StratCom’s claim was later corroborated by Ukraine’s Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk, who stated that Ukrainian pilots had conducted a successful strike on the enemy facility.

Based on videos of the attack, military analysts of the Ukrainian military news portal Militarnyi believe the attacks on the Luhansk plant-based Russian command center were likely carried out using long-range Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG long-range air-to-ground air-launched cruise missile, a Franco-British air-launched weapon.

A cruise missile over Luhansk. 13 April 2024. Screenshot from a video posted by the Incident Luhansk Telegram channel

Some local sources captured the silhouette of the alleged Storm Shadow/Scalp missile moments before a strike and speculated that it might have been the German Taurus missile, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz refuses to give Ukraine for months, fearing escalation.

The April 13 attack

On 13 April at about 11:30 a.m., the explosions at a machine-building plant in occupied Luhansk reportedly caused a large column of smoke to rise over the city, typical of burning diesel fuel. Quisling official Leonid Pasechnyk, the leader of the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic”, confirmed the strike on the Luhansk machine building plant.

Ukraine Air Force confirms April 13 strike on Russian command center in occupied Luhansk

Militarnyi says eyewitnesses reported at least two powerful explosions. However, one of the social media videos shows two visible explosions while a column of smoke was already dominating the Luhansk landscape, suggesting that at least three missiles hit the target.

On the next day, Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, Ukraine’s Air Force Commander, confirmed that Ukrainian pilots conducted a successful strike on an enemy facility in Luhansk Oblast on the previous day, claiming that the Ukrainian assault hit the command post of the “Center” grouping of Russian forces in the occupied regional capital.

As the US aid has been stalled in Congress for more than six months, Oleshchuk stated that Ukraine will conduct more strikes on Russian rear positions when it receives additional missiles from Western partners.

Storm Shadow

The Storm Shadow, also known as SCALP EG in France, is an Anglo-French low-observable, long-range, air-launched cruise missile. Designed to penetrate air defense systems and destroy critical stationary targets, including bunkers, this missile measures 5.1 meters long and has a flight weight of 1,300 kg with a 450 kg warhead.

The missile’s operational range exceeds 250 km for exports and reaches up to 560 km for the French and British forces.

As reported, the Ukrainian Air Force uses these missiles from modified Su-24M Soviet-era bombers. Ukraine attacked a variety of Russian targets since Britain and France started supplying this weapon, including bridges, military bases, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet HQ and warships.

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