Russia is using Cold War-era nuclear missiles against Ukraine

A new update reveals that Russia’s military is using Cold War-era nuclear missiles — albeit without their nuclear payload — in its ongoing battle with Ukraine. 

The update comes from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense. The ministry has posted such updates throughout the war between Ukraine and Russia.

This update – “Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 26 November 2022” – was posted to Twitter on Saturday.

“Aging nuclear cruise missiles”

The U.K.’s update focuses on Russia’s use of what the intelligence agency calls “aging nuclear cruise missiles.”

“Russia is likely removing the nuclear warheads from aging nuclear cruise missiles and firing the unarmed munitions at Ukraine,” the update reads.

As evidence, the agency reports, “open source imagery shows wreckage of an apparently shot-down AS-15 KENT air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), designed in the 1980s exclusively as a nuclear delivery system. The warhead had probably been substituted for ballast.”

Does that work?

According to British intelligence, using these “aging nuclear cruise missiles” without their nuclear payloads is not likely to be consistently effective.

The agency writes:

Although such an intert system will still produce some damage through the missile’s kinetic energy and any unspent fuel, it is unlikely to ahieve reliable effects against intended targets.

Instead, the agency suggests that “Russia almost certainly hopes such missiles will function as decoys and divert Ukrainian air defenses.”

A sign of a stockpile depletion?

One last suggestion that the agency makes is that, “whatever Russia’s intent [with regard to using these aging nuclear cruise missiles], this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia’s stock of long-range missiles.”

This, though, appears to be a questionable assertion.

In an update from Oct. 16, the same intelligence agency reported:

Russia’s defence industry is probably incapable of producing advanced munitions at the rate they are being expended. These attacks represent a further degradation of Russia’s long-range missile stocks… likely to constrain their ability to strike the volume of targets they desire in future.

The ministry, here, was referring to a major attack that Russia carried out on Ukraine at the time. Roughly a month later, however, Russia went on to carry out what Breitbart News reports to be their “largest missile bombardment of Ukraine to date,” a bombardment that should not have been possible given the intelligence report from the U.K.

Accordingly, it is probably best not to draw too many conclusions from these intelligence reports.