Russia is using dummy nuclear-capable missiles to distract air defences, claims Kyiv

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The Ukrainian military has claimed that Russia is now using nuclear-capable missiles with non-explosive warheads against the country’s air defences. Military official Mykola Danyliuk showed fragments of what he claimed are parts of Soviet-made Kh-55 cruise missiles that are designed for nuclear use. He said that they are being used to “exhaust the air-defence system of our country”. 

“This is a substitute for a thermo-nuclear guided charge,” he said.

Danyliuk said the Kh-55 had not been used by Russia in Ukraine before October 31. 

The official added that the pieces were tested and they did not show abnormal levels of radioactivity. Ukraine believes that having carried out several missile strikes against the country’s infrastructure, Moscow’s arsenal has depleted significantly. This is why it is now using blunt projectiles that still cause devastation.

“The use of such missiles is intended to distract the attention of Ukraine’s air defence system and tire it out.” Danyliuk also said that all the Kh-55 missiles that had been discovered had their serial numbers scratched out.

 Kh-55 cruise missiles  are also known as AS-15 by Nato, and the pieces were found in the Lviv and Khmelnytsky regions. The missiles were designed during Soviet times to hit “strategic targets with predetermined co-ordinates”. 

Meanwhile, the UK said the missiles were designed “exclusively as a nuclear delivery system”. However, it seems the Russian military removed the nuclear warheads and replaced them with an inert system before firing them.

Danyliuk noted that the missile could cause enough damage even with a non-explosive warhead because of its kinetic energy and fuel residues.

“This is evidenced by the latest strike when a Kh-55 missile hit a residential building,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s top security officials have ordered an investigation into the activities of a branch of the Orthodox Church linked historically to Moscow, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday.

He added that the probe would look into whether the Moscow branch of the church was entitled to operate at one of Ukraine’s most hallowed sites, the Pechersk Lavra complex in Kyiv.

The Orthodox Church in Russia has backed Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We have to create conditions so that no actors dependent on the aggressor state (Russia) can manipulate Ukrainians and weaken Ukraine from within,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.

(With inputs from agencies)


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