Russia today faced a major bombardment with huge explosions in the occupied port of Berdiansk, where Ukraine is believed to be making the most of new missiles donated by Britain.
The images show the moment an alleged Storm Shadow missile hits the port facilities, Britain’s most powerful non-nuclear missile, which can hit targets from a radius of 150 miles. A huge column of smoke is seen rising from a place in the port area on the Azov Sea in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region.
Russian state media outlet RT said there had been “casualties and destruction” from the attack, the exact target of which was not immediately clear.
Russian official Vladimir Rogov said nine injuries had been reported. Berdiansk was attacked for the first time on Saturday with Storm Shadow missiles.
Chaos also broke out inside Russia today, where the Belgorod border region faced fresh attacks from the air. Two women were reportedly killed in the Maslova Pristan settlement amid heavy shelling in the Shebekinsky district.
A child and another adult were injured. According to a report, a drone dropped an explosive device over a highway. The area is besieged by anti-Putin Russian partisans who are challenging the armed forces from bases deep inside Ukraine.
A video shows Free Russian Legion fighters inside Russia in the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka, in the Belgorod region.
Thousands of residents have evacuated border towns and villages amid the fighting.
In Mariupol, also occupied by Russia and situated on the Azov Sea, Ukrainian missiles were hit by air defenses, according to Russian reports.
Earlier, Russia faced drone strikes in the Kursk region, which borders Ukraine.
A night attack on Berdiansk last week, which reportedly could have been carried out with Storm Shadow missiles as well, saw fire rain down on the port.
Videos from a residential building showed a column of flames believed to have risen over the port area after the attack. A Russian warehouse of S-300 air defense missiles was claimed to have been hit in the attack, but there was no immediate confirmation.
An anonymous Russian official in Zaporizhzhia verified the attack in Berdiansk, saying the city was “under fire from the Kyiv regime.” Explosions were heard on the outskirts [of the city]. First responders were working at the scene.” MailOnline was unable to verify whether British missiles had been used immediately.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace previously confirmed that Ukraine had used the missiles on May 18 but declined to elaborate.
He said the missiles enabled the Ukrainians to attack Russian command and control centers that had been moved further back in the front line to keep them out of range of the rocket artillery systems the West had supplied to Kyiv.
Ukraine is the only country to which the UK has publicly supplied these missiles. With this delivery, Britain has also become the first country to supply Ukraine with long-range precision missiles.
The missiles, which cost 2.2 million pounds each, will allow Ukrainian forces to strike deeper into Russian-controlled territory. They are suspected of having been used this month when Russian MP Viktor Vodolatsky was wounded following an attack on May 15.
The Storm Shadow missile was first developed in 1994, but was first used by the French Ministry of Defense before being used by Britain.
The missile weighs approximately 1,300 kilograms (2,900 pounds), with a 450-kilogram (990 pound) conventional warhead.
The “fire and forget” missiles are pre-programmed before the mission and reach a speed of 621 mph (1,000 km), reaching targets 350 miles (563 km) away.
The missiles were first used in operations by British forces in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where they were tested by 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force.
The RAF and the French Air Force have used them against Isis. Britain also used them against Syrian forces in 2018. Last year, the United States sent Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Ukraine to bolster its offensive power.
Missiles can also hit ground targets. Priced at around £1m per missile, they are much cheaper than the British Storm Shadows but have a maximum range of 150 miles and reach speeds of up to 537mph. Both are “subsonic” missiles, which travel below the speed of sound.
According to defense analyst James Bosbotinis, the Storm Shadow’s range allows it to hit “high-value hardened targets” that “the adversary doesn’t want hit,” such as bunkers, as reported by Forces.net.
Ukraine also has its HIMARS rocket systems to defend itself, but these only have a range of 80 kilometers. Russian forces have adapted by moving their munitions out of range during clashes.
The exact number of Storm Shadow missiles sent to Ukraine has not been disclosed. The bulk of UK stocks must be reserved for the event of any direct conflict involving British forces.
Strategic analyst Howard Wheeldon indicated that the UK could not afford to send aircraft as its current fleet is too small to defend the British Isles.
He told the Mail: All credit goes to the British government for their swift response and actions, but the sad reality is that after supplying an unquantified number of probably expired Storm Shadow missiles, the UK has little else it can give.”
Elena Salvoni and Will Stewart