Ukraine published a video on Wednesday showing the moment it destroyed a Russian S-400.
The S-400 is formidable air-defense system that has drawn comparisons to the US Patriot battery.
Kyiv's military intelligence said in a statement that the attack dealt a "painful blow" to Russia.
Ukraine's military intelligence agency said a Russian S-400 air-defense system on the occupied Crimean peninsula was destroyed on Wednesday, marking a rare loss of one of Moscow's more celebrated and formidable weapons.
A video published by the Ukrainian Main Directorate of Intelligence, an arm of the country's defense ministry that's also known as the HUR, shows the moment that the S-400 erupts into a massive fireball. The footage, which appears to have been captured by a drone, shows a faraway and close-up view of the explosion.
The HUR wrote in a Telegram post that the explosion occurred around 10 am near Olenivka, a small village at the Crimea's westernmost point along the Black Sea. Kyiv said the attack destroyed the S-400 launcher, its accompanying missiles, and the personnel operating the system.
"Given the limited number of such complexes in the enemy's arsenal, this is a painful blow to the air defense system of the occupiers, which will have a serious impact on further events in the occupied Crimea," the HUR said, according to a translation by Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor in Ukraine's internal affairs ministry.
Russia's advanced S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air system that's capable of shooting down targets at high altitudes and long ranges. Highly praised by Moscow, the formidable S-400 — which is a successor to the older S-200 and S-300 — can engage cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as aircraft and drones, and is considered to be the Russian equivalent to the American Patriot system.
Despite losing an overwhelming amount of military equipment throughout the 18-month-long conflict, Russia has managed to keep its valuable S-400s out of harm's way for the most part. According to open-source intelligence site Oryx, Moscow's military had lost just three S-400 launchers and one command post for the system.
It's not immediately clear where the strike that eliminated the latest system came from or what specific weapon was used to do it, but Olenivka is in range of a long-range missile that Ukraine has in its arsenal: the Storm Shadows/SCALP-EGs provided by the British and French which offer an impressive operational range of 155 miles.
Ukraine has asserted repeatedly that it remains unwavering in its goal to eventually liberate Crimea — illegally annexed by Russia in 2014 and still not recognized as Russian territory by Western governments. Kyiv's forces have increasingly stepped up attacks there, including a recent sea drone strike on the key Kerch Bridge, which connects the Crimea with mainland Russia and is a symbol of the Kremlin's hope to occupy the peninsula forever.
Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukraine's military intelligence agency, said in a media interview on Tuesday that many individuals living in Crimea are looking forward to its eventual liberation by Ukraine, and he even appeared to hint that a future attack on the peninsula was coming.
"We need to give them confidence that their hopes are not in vain. That's why we have to hold events such as the Crimean Platform, events, let's say, with the resistance movement in the temporarily occupied territories, just destroy the occupiers in our Crimea, which, in principle, you see, and will see in the coming days," Budanov said.
Wednesday's S-400 incident marks the latest demonstration of Ukraine's significant deep-strike capabilities. In recent weeks, Kyiv has managed to threaten Russian positions far beyond the southern and eastern front lines, striking targets around the Black Sea, Crimea, and even on Russia's internationally recognized territory. Drone attacks on Moscow, for example, have become a regular occurrence, although they likely cause more psychological damage than physical harm.
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