Russia desperately fits warships with anti-air defences as Putin fears Britain's deadly Harpoon missiles sent to Ukraine | The Sun

Russia desperately fits warships with anti-air defences as Putin fears Britain's deadly Harpoon missiles sent to Ukraine | The Sun

June 9, 2022

RUSSIA is scrambling to fit improvised air defences on its warships fearing they could be sunk by Britain's deadly Harpoon missiles.

Putin's fleet in the Black Sea has also been forced 60 miles back from the coast of Ukraine in a humiliating retreat, reports say.

Around 20 Russian ships are enforcing a blockade in the Black Sea aimed at halting grain exports to blackmail the West.

The fleet also pounded targets on land and was poised for a beach assault at Odessa before being pushed back.

But the sinking of the flagship Moskva by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles forced a change of tactics.

And now panicking sailors are cobbling together makeshift defences after the UK and Denmark gave Ukraine Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

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The sea-skimming weapons can sink a ship over the horizon at a distance of over 80 miles.

Pictures shared online show a Russian Navy corvette in Sevastopol with a Tor 2 anti-aircraft missile launcher chained to the helicopter deck.

Three other corvette patrol ships are said to have done the same in recent weeks.

The land-based mobile launchers – used to take down helicopters and drones – are a clear sign of the panic in the Black Sea fleet, experts say.

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It is not known how effective they are against Harpoons which fly just over the surface to evade defences.

“This system is quite good to fight UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and anti-ship missiles, and also helicopters and aircraft,” former Ukrainian navy captain Andrii Ryzhenko told The War Zone.

He added the decision to put the Tor launcher on the corvettes was “a reaction to the Moskva”.

The threat of missiles has also helped push Putin's fleet far from shore as it desperately tries to keep control over Ukraine's southern coast and the main shipping routes, analysts say.

"As a result of our actions aimed at defeating enemy naval forces, the group of ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet was pushed back from the Ukrainian shores at a distance of more than a hundred kilometres (62 miles),'' Ukraine's ministry of defence said on Telegram.

Instead, the Kremlin's forces have turned to coastal missile batteries to try to enforce control of the area.

And extra forces were dispatched to Russian-held Snake Island, the rocky outpost 30 miles off the coast of Ukraine, to strengthen air defences, reports The Daily Telegraph.

US think tank the Institute for the Study of War said Ukraine's navy was challenging for dominance and preventing Russian ships from operating near the shore.

It said: "Taken together, these reports suggest that Ukrainian naval pressure and anti-ship missiles – likely including those provided by the UK and other states – have forced the Russian grouping in the north-western Black Sea to rely more on coastal and air defence as they are pushed away from the Ukrainian shoreline."

Cynical blockade

Russian ships continue to block civilian shipping, meaning millions of tons of stockpiled grain cannot be exported.

Ukraine is the world's fourth largest wheat exporter, and experts say Putin is strangling the supply to drive up prices in the West.

Meanwhile in Africa, farmers are facing the worst drought in 40 years, raising fears of a devastating famine.

The UN warned that climate change and Russia’s Black Sea blockade has left 44million people “marching towards starvation”.

Yesterday Russia was accused of STEALING thousands of tons of Ukrainian wheat.

Putin's puppet governor in Melitopol boasted how train wagons filled with grain went to Sevastopol in Crimea.

From there ships took the illicit cargo by sea – including to Putin's ally Syria.

Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, also boasted the Kremlin was using captured Azov Sea ports Mariupol and Berdynask to restart grain exports from occupied territory.

"The de-mining of Mariupol's port has been completed. It is functioning normally, and has received its first cargo ships," he said.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace blasted Russia for behaving like gangsters.

On a trip to Iceland’s capital Reykjavik to discuss bolstering security in Arctic states, Mr Wallace said: “We shouldn’t be surprised that Russia is stealing grain. 

“They’ve been stealing everything from washing machines to jewellery, to make-up to everything else. 

“If Russia thinks it’s going to be using the position of an illegal invasion to blackmail the West with their own grain, they need to think again.”

Thousands of Nato troops have begun the largest ever exercise to test their air and missile defence systems amid fears Putin's war could spill over the border.

About 3,000 Nato troops and 50 jets joined the Ramstein Legacy war games yesterday in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Electronic warfare systems and 17 surface-based air and missile defence launchers are being tested in a show of force.

Britain showed off its Stormer vehicles armed with Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, which split into three darts to rip targets apart.

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The UK has supplied the same deadly fighting vehicles to boost Ukraine's defences.

In response, Russia launched its own war games today in the Baltic with 60 surface ships and 40 aircraft putting on a show of force.

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