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Russia Claims to Intercept 10 US ATACMS Missiles Over Crimea With Tor-M2 Air Defense System.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on May 15, 2024, that its air defenses successfully intercepted and destroyed 10 U.S.-supplied ATACMS ballistic missiles targeting Crimea early today. The missiles were reportedly shot down by Tor-M2 mobile air defense systems over the Black Sea.
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The  Tor-M2 is a Russian-made air defense missile system that is able to intercept precision-guided munitions and missiles. (Picture source Russian MoD)

The Tor-M2, NATO code-named SA-15D, is a Russian mobile, short-range surface-to-air missile system designed to intercept and destroy various aerial threats, including aircraft, helicopters, drones, and precision-guided munitions. It features advanced radar and missile technology, capable of detecting and engaging targets within a range of up to 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) and at altitudes between 10 meters and 10 kilometers. The Tor-M2 can track and engage up to 48 targets simultaneously, and its missiles can engage four targets concurrently. This system is highly mobile and effective in all weather conditions, providing robust protection for ground forces and strategic assets from aerial attacks​.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the missiles were detected at approximately 5:00 AM local time and neutralized before reaching their targets. Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev confirmed the interceptions near the Belbek air base, adding that some missile fragments fell into residential areas but caused no casualties.

In recent months, Ukraine has escalated its use of drones and missile attacks on various targets within Russia, including oil refineries and fuel depots, as part of its efforts to repel Russian advances. This latest incident underscores the ongoing tension and the high stakes involved in the conflict, with significant military engagement from both sides.

Secretary Blinken's visit to Kyiv highlights the United States' continued diplomatic and military support for Ukraine amidst the ongoing war. The U.S. has been a critical ally to Ukraine, providing substantial military aid, including the advanced ATACMS missiles that were reportedly used in the latest attempted strike on Crimea.

The Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is a U.S.-made surface-to-surface missile system with a range of up to 300 km (186 miles), capable of delivering precision strikes against high-value targets such as command centers, air defenses, and logistical hubs. Developed by Lockheed Martin, ATACMS missiles can be launched from the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). They carry a variety of warheads, including unitary warheads and cluster munitions, making them versatile for different combat scenarios​.

The recent delivery of U.S.-supplied ATACMS missiles to Ukraine has garnered significant attention. In March 2024, the Biden administration quietly approved the transfer of long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine as part of a $300 million military aid package. These missiles, with a range of nearly 200 miles, were sent to bolster Ukraine's capabilities against Russian forces.

The decision to provide these long-range missiles ended a lengthy debate between Washington and Kyiv. Initially, the U.S. had been reluctant to send such advanced weaponry due to concerns over escalating the conflict. However, the persistent Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure and the use of North Korean-supplied missiles by Russia led to a shift in the U.S. stance. President Joe Biden and his national security team, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, decided that the timing was right to provide these strategic assets to Ukraine.

The ATACMS missiles have already been used twice by Ukrainian forces: once against a Russian military base in Crimea and again near Berdyansk in southeastern Ukraine. These strikes underscore the significant impact these missiles can have in the ongoing conflict, potentially targeting high-value Russian assets and forcing strategic adjustments by Russian forces.

The provision of ATACMS is part of a larger U.S. military support strategy, which includes a new $1 billion aid package containing various other military equipment aimed at strengthening Ukraine's defense capabilities​.

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