Russia is firing dummy missiles to exhaust Ukraine’s air defenses, Ukrainian military says

The Ukrainian military says Russia is now using nuclear-capable missiles fitted with non-explosive warheads in a bid to exhaust Ukraine’s air defenses.

Mykola Danyliuk, a representative of the Ukrainian armed forces research unit, shared these updates at a Thursday briefing held at a site where missile fragments — from what Ukraine says is a Russian Kh-55 cruise missile — were on show.

“The use of such missiles is intended to distract the attention of Ukraine’s air defence system and tire it out,” Danyliuk said, adding that more modern Russian missiles are generally aimed at infrastructure facilities and residential areas.

Pointing to a fragment on stage, Danyliuk said, “I would also like to add that even a missile without a warhead, a missile with a warhead like this, poses a great threat because of its kinetic energy and fuel. This is evidenced by… the impact of a Kh-55 missile into a residential building.”

“This exact fragment was a compartment of the warhead. So, this is a substitute for a thermo-nuclear guided charge, which is used in Kh-55 missiles,” he said.

Danyliuk said tests on this Kh-55 missile did not show abnormal levels of radioactivity, “which means it didn’t have contact with nuclear elements.”

On Nov. 26, the British Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update that “Russia is likely removing the nuclear warheads from ageing nuclear cruise missiles and firing the unarmed munitions at Ukraine.”

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