Russia warns it can destroy NATO satellites

Russia warns it can destroy NATO satellites – rendering missiles useless – as White House says it has ‘serious concerns’ about military build-up near Ukraine – but Putin’s spy agency dismisses US ‘hysteria’

  • State TV claimed new anti-satellite missiles could destroy 32 Nato satellites
  • ASAT missiles would ‘blind all their missiles, planes, ships and ground forces’ 
  • Warning comes as 94,000 Russian troops have been sent to Ukrainian border
  • White House said it had ‘serious concerns’ and shared maps of possible invasion 

Russia has warned it can obliterate Nato satellites with its new ‘Star Warrior’ technology to render the West’s GPS-guided missiles useless in the latest provocation in its stand-off with Ukraine.

State TV last night claimed Moscow’s anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles could destroy 32 Nato satellites and ‘blind all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention the ground forces.’

The ASAT technology was tested on a defunct Soviet satellite last week, sending shrapnel flying towards the International Space Station (ISS), and provoking outrage from NASA and Washington. This was a warning shot to the West, state TV claimed.

The chilling threat comes as Vladimir Putin has sent more than 94,000 troops to the border with Ukraine, sparking fears of a three-pronged invasion that would dwarf the annexation of Crimea in 2014.  

The White House on Monday said it had ‘serious concerns’ over Moscow’s buildup of military hardware along the frontier, including tanks and missile batteries, as well as its sustained threats to Kiev.

‘We continue to have serious concerns about Russian military activities and harsh rhetoric toward Ukraine and call on Moscow to deescalate tensions,’ said Biden’s press Secretary Jen Psaki.

But the Kremlin’s SVR foreign intelligence agency accused Washington of whipping up ‘hysteria’, dismissing claims it had any intention of launching an invasion.

Russian state TV last night claimed its new ‘Star Warrior’ anti-satellite missile technology could be used to render the West’s GPS-guided missiles useless. It warned Moscow could destroy 32 Nato satellites and ‘blind all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention the ground forces

A map shared with Military Times and replicated above shows how Ukrainian intelligence is bracing for a bloody and ferocious invasion that could see swathes of Ukraine captured in an assault which would dwarf the annexation of the Crimea in 2014

Vladimir Putin at a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow on Monday

‘The Americans are painting a frightening picture of hordes of Russian tanks that will start to crush Ukrainian cities, saying they have some ‘reliable information’ of such Russian intentions,’ said the SVR in a rare statement to the Russian press.

Joe Biden was last night considering sending Javelin anti-tank missile launchers and Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine, as well as military advisers to support its armed forces.

The Javelin anti-tank missiles could prove essential to stopping Russian T-80 tanks that are among the armaments sent by Moscow to forward positions.

Another option is to send Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters that were bought for Afghanistan but now need a new destination.

However, others in the administration fear sending military aid would be seen as a major provocation in Moscow.

Russian state TV last night issued a chilling threat to deploy its new ASAT technology against 32 Western satellites which Nato use for military operations.

Moscow last week tested the missile against a redundant Soviet-era spy satellite, sending thousands of particles of debris into orbit which threatened the safety of the ISS.

Sate-controlled Russian Channel One TV host Dmitry Kiselyov – dubbed Putin’s ‘mouthpiece’ and ‘propagandist-in-chief’ – claimed the satellite strike was a deliberate warning to the West not to cross the Kremlin’s red lines on Ukraine.

In the event of worsening relations, Russia could wipe out 32 GPS satellites crucial for NATO’s military operations, including the pinpointing of missile strikes, he said.

Russia has expressed deep concern at British and US military backing for Kiev with troops and equipment including warships.

‘We shot down the old Soviet Tselina-D satellite in space orbit,’ said Kiselyov.

‘That was the completion of tests of Russia’s anti-satellite system, the accuracy of which (Defence Minister) Sergei Shoigu called jewellery-like.

‘It means that if NATO crosses our red line, it risks losing all 32 of its GPS satellites at once.’

This would ‘blind all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention the ground forces.’

The Nudol – dubbed ‘Star Warrior’ by Izvestia newspaper – had been tested at least nine times between 2014 and 2020 before its first deployment to destroy an actual satellite on 15 November, according to Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategy and Technologies.

Videos show footage of tests suspected of involving the new technology which last week was launched from Plesetsk military cosmodrome. 

A satellite image released by Maxar Technologies and taken on November 1, 2021 shows the presence of a large ground forces deployment on the northern edge of the town of Yelnya, Smolensk Oblast, Russia, near the border with Ukraine

Javelin anti-tank missiles – seen hearing being used by Australian Army soldiers – could prove effective in stopping Russia’s T-80 tanks which have been sent close to the Ukrainian border

Massive Russian-Belarusian joint drill were held in September, further increasing anxieties of an imminent invasion (pictured: Tanks and missile batteries taking part in the exercises last month)

One showed a test launch at Sary-Shagan test site in Kazakhstan in April, another in September.

Defence minister Shogun confirmed at the time ‘a successful test of a new system – it hit an old satellite with high precision. The fragments pose no threat to space activities’.

Kiselyov told his viewers: ‘Russia does not need conflicts.

‘Russia needs guarantees of security, and in order to rule out the possibility of provocations capable of spilling over into a full-scale military confrontation, we will continue to clearly and consistently delineate our red lines, which no-one is permitted to cross.’

The Nudol satellite strike came after Russia had completed a test of its 6,670mph Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic missile, he said. 

Warnings intensified on Monday as it emerged that U.S. had shared maps with European allies showing how a buildup of Russian troops and artillery could allow Putin to order a rapid invasion.

According to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the conversations, the intelligence lays out a scenario for a three-pronged attack.

Troops would cross into Ukraine from Crimea, the Russian border and Belarus, with about 100 battalion tactical groups – up to 100,000 soldiers in all.

Two sources said half the tactical groups was already in position and that any invasion would be backed by air support.  

Such a move would dwarf the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Instead the two sources said Moscow had called up tens of thousands of reservists in the biggest mobilization since Soviet times. Their role would be to secure territory taken by the tactical battalions. 

A plane performs a flight during military drills of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces in Zhytomyr Region, Ukraine November 21, 2021

Tanks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are seen during drills at an unknown location near the border of Russian-annexed Crimea

Moscow dismissed the reports as disinformation designed to cover up Ukraine’s aggressive plans.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said movements of troops inside Russia whoudl worry no one. 

Instead he turned the tables, painting Ukraine as the aggressor. 

‘The number of provocations has been growing, and those provocations have been conducted using the weapons that NATO countries sent to Ukraine,’ he told reporters on a conference call, according to the Associated Press. 

‘We are watching it with a grave concern.’

But U.S. officials say they see a familiar playbook. 

‘Our concern is that Russia may make a serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014, when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory and did so claiming falsely that it was provoked,’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week. 

For its part, Ukraine’s defense ministry announced it had held a military drill of airborne forces close to the capital Kiev. 

‘We continue to have serious concerns about Russian military activities and harsh rhetoric toward Ukraine and call on Moscow to deescalate tensions,’ said Jen Psaki

The drills simulated the landing of airborne troops and armoured personnel carriers for an attack on an enemy target, the ministry said in a statement. It released footage showing the landing of troops, supported by aircraft and helicopters.

Last week, Ukrainian marines conducted drills near the borders of Russian-annexed Crimea.

Ukraine’s new defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said during a trip to Washington last week that Putin was ‘playing chess’ with the West but it remained unclear what his intentions were. 

‘We’re not sure exactly what Mr Putin is up to,’ Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, admitted on Wednesday.

Meanwhile Democratic and Republican lawmakers have added amendments to the draft 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that would address Russia’s latest provocations 

An amendment proposed by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, and seen by CNN, called for ‘substantial new sanctions on senior Kremlin officials – including Putin – in the event of a Russian escalation against Ukraine. 

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