Russia deploys air defenses in Moscow signaling fear of strikes on capital


RIGA, Latvia – The Kremlin on Friday declined to comment on the recent installation of air defense systems in and around Moscow, as Russia seeks to close gaps in its defenses, apparently fearing that a bold and humiliating attack on Ukraine could be made. Russian capital.

Russia has deployed the Pantsir-S1 air defense system above two government buildings in Moscow, including the Defense Ministry on Frunzenskaya Embankment, and the District Education Ministry building on Teterinsky Lane, according to independent Russian-language media.

Pictures of the specific air defense system were published on social media.

About six miles from President Vladimir Putin’s residence in Novo-Ugarevo, outside the capital, according to Russian media outlet Serena, which posted video and photos. Additional air defense systems were installed at several other locations in or around Moscow, including the Odintsovo District.

Ruslan Leviev, a Russian military analyst at the Conflict Intelligence Team, an independent group that analyzes open-source intelligence, reported that the S-400 air defense system will be installed at the Luzhniki Island Park outside Moscow, where in recent days The trees have been cleared. Levev spoke on Popular Politics, a YouTube channel linked to jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Asked on Friday whether the Kremlin feared airstrikes could be launched against Moscow, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred questions to the Russian Defense Ministry. “They are responsible for ensuring the security of the country in general and the capital in particular, so it is better to ask the Ministry of Defense about all the measures that are being taken,” Peskov said.

The Russian Defense Ministry rarely responds to questions from Western media and did not respond to an emailed query on Friday. The Pantsir-S1 defense system will have a range covering most of central Moscow, including the Kremlin.

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The positioning of the weapons follows criticism by Russian analysts of gaps in Russia’s air defenses following at least four Ukrainian attacks last month on military airfields deep inside Russia, three of which hit the Angles near Saratov. hit the military airfield, where Russia has long-range strategic bases. The second bomber attack took place at Diaglievo Air Base near Ryazan, about 114 miles southeast of Moscow.

“They seem to be drawing conclusions from the fact that Ukrainian drones were flying in bases far to the rear, like in Diaglievo and Engels,” Levev said. “Apparently because of this fear, and because of the fear of Vladimir Putin’s missile attacks in general, they decided to strengthen Moscow’s defenses in such a way that they understand very well that such attacks along the border With leaked Russian air defenses, apparently Ukrainian drones could attack. Theoretically even reach Moscow.

The December attacks demonstrated Kyiv’s ability to strike deep into Russian territory as Ukraine continues to struggle to regain territory lost during Moscow’s all-out offensive.

The airstrikes in Russia followed a series of other surprise Ukrainian attacks that have humiliated Moscow, including the bombing of a bridge linking Crimea with Russia, attacks on the Saki air base in Crimea, and attacks on Russia’s Black Sea flagship. The sinking of the battleship Moskva. the fleet

Russia is beefing up the defenses of its capital as Putin prepares the Russian people for a long, difficult war against Ukraine and a protracted confrontation with NATO.

Putin has shifted Russia’s economy to a war footing, demanding that companies serve the war effort, and increasingly militarized Russian society, amid rising frontline casualties and rumors of possible secondment. Unpopular mass mobilization intensified propaganda efforts to bolster support for the war.

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Since the start of the invasion, Putin has cracked down on political opposition and Russia has cracked down on resistance to the war by banning protests, restricting free speech and imprisoning critics.

After the classmate was kidnapped, Russia designated the 19-year-old war critic as a terrorist.

On Tuesday, Putin ordered an increase in Russia’s military strength by more than 350,000 personnel to 1.5 million, although it is unclear whether the country can muster enough volunteer contract troops. To reach this goal.

After scaling back their advance over the winter, Russian and Ukrainian forces are each said to be preparing new offensives, which could be a decisive phase of the war in the coming months.

The sight of air defense missiles in central Moscow is another sign of the normalization of war in Russian life.

As the invasion progresses, officials, including Putin, increasingly refer to it as a “war” waged by NATO against Russia, without any evidence, as a war for survival against greedy Western powers. But describe those who are determined to tear it to pieces. Russian nation.

After the attacks on two Russian air bases in early December, Russian military historian Yuri Kunotov, director of the Air Defense Forces Museum, told state television that Russia blew a hole in its air defense system when it sent most of its military equipment to Ukraine. .

“There is a gap in our air defense system. American satellites can see these gaps very well. I have no doubt about it, and experts do not doubt it,” Notov warned at the time.

Prominent Russian pro-war military blogger Alexander Coates, a journalist for the pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, wrote on his Telegram channel that the installation of an air defense system in the capital was a positive sign, indicating that Russian authorities ” Understand that attacks against Moscow and the region are only a matter of time.

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Leviev said the newly installed air defense systems are a last resort, if a missile or drone manages to reach Moscow from Russia’s external air defenses. If not for war, he added, such systems would be placed far from Moscow, but Russia is now a belligerent country, and drones are coming into Russia, so the expectation is high.”

As Western officials consider sending heavy battle tanks to Ukraine, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev warned on Thursday that nuclear powers like Russia cannot afford to lose wars, and threatened that the West would back Kyiv. Efforts could trigger nuclear weapons. The war was the latest in a series of nuclear threats issued by senior Russian officials.

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