By David L. Stern and Serhiy Morgunov
September 1, 2023
The Washington Post
MUKACHEVO, Ukraine — Ukrainian officials say their military is now using a long-range missile that was designed and manufactured domestically and can reach targets inside Russia — a potentially crucial capability because the United States and other Western supporters have imposed restrictions on using weapons they donate to strike Russian territory.
The development of the Ukrainian missile started well before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a top Ukrainian security official said Friday. Officials have not disclosed the name of the missile. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, posting on the social media platform Telegram, said Ukrainian forces had successfully hit a target 700 kilometers (435 miles) away, using a missile “of our own production.”
The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, said Friday that the missile could travel farther but did not specify its full range.
Russia is “already feeling” the effect of the new missiles, Danilov said on Ukrainian television, adding: “Production is underway.”
The Ukrainian officials’ statements could not be independently verified, and did not provide further details such as when the missile was fired, what object was struck, or where.
If confirmed, however, a domestically produced long-range missile would be a threshold development for the Ukrainian military, which has been denied similar weapons by Western backers for fear of provoking Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Believe me, already very soon someone [in Russia] will be burned, and burned in the direct sense of the word,” Danilov said.
Danilov said that Zelensky wrote the first decree helping to create the missile program in March 2020. “It is a very complex process, and is very complex technically,” Danilov said. “In order for it to be up to date, for it to have a distance of thousands of kilometers, keep in mind, this is the work of large teams.”
Danilov on Thursday also tweeted a short video of a missile being fired. “The missile program of the President of Ukraine in action,” he wrote. “The tests are successful, the implementation is effective.” “Sevastopol is waiting, Kamchatka is waiting, Kronshtadt is waiting,” Danilov wrote, perhaps with some exaggeration. Kamchatka, in Russia’s Far East, is about 4,500 miles from Ukraine. Reaching it would require an intercontinental ballistic missile, which only 10 countries in the world are believed to possess.
Ukrainian forces are increasingly striking at targets inside Russia and occupied Crimea — which Russia invaded and illegally annexed in 2014. Most of the Ukrainian strikes involve self-destructing water or aerial drones, and units of the country’s intelligence services. Ukraine often denies any connection to such attacks, but officials privately confirm the strikes or issue statements celebrating them and indicating the involvement of Ukraine’s military or special services. “The war is increasingly moving to Russia’s territory, and it cannot be stopped,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted Wednesday, after a drone attack on an airfield in Pskov, Russia, damaged or destroyed several military planes.
David L. Stern has worked for news outlets in Russia, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Central Asia. He has lived in Ukraine since 2009, covering the 2014 Maidan revolution, war in the country’s east and now Russia’s 2022 invasion. Twitter