NewsNATO jets near Crimea spark rumors of Ukrainian surprise attack

NATO jets near Crimea spark rumors of Ukrainian surprise attack

E-3 Sentry approaching for in-air refueling, illustrative photo
E-3 Sentry approaching for in-air refueling, illustrative photo
Images source: © ang.af.mil
5:19 PM EDT, April 26, 2024

The Rybar Channel on Telegram, allegedly a project by Russian intelligence, disclosed information about seven NATO aircraft involved in intelligence gathering regarding Russian air defenses in Crimea, as reported by the Bulgarian Military. This incident, which occurred on April 22 and 23, reportedly involved four electronic reconnaissance planes and three drones.

Both Russia and Ukraine are leveraging the art of information warfare amidst their conflict. It’s crucial to note that not all information shared by the conflicting parties can be taken at face value.

Ukrainians preparing a surprise for Putin?

The Rybar Channel claims to be a Russian think tank and suggests that the NATO aircraft spotted near Crimea could indicate Ukrainian plans for imminent attacks. They speculate that Ukraine may deploy ATACMS long-range missiles against targets such as the Crimean Bridge.

On April 22, the Ukrainian Armed Forces allegedly launched three ADM-160 MALD decoy missiles. These missiles, which are approximately 10 feet long and weigh approximately 253 pounds, are designed to mimic the radar profiles of aircraft. Their primary function is to confuse enemy air defenses and potentially secure a safe passage for planes carrying actual weapons.

Each ADM-160 MALD missile targeted a different location, including Sevastopol and Kerch, effectively testing Crimea’s air defense capabilities in anticipation of real strikes. The Russians are bracing for potential attacks during significant events such as Vladimir Putin’s fourth presidential term inauguration (May 6) or Victory Day (May 8).

Rybar then listed various NATO aircraft that, as per Russian sources, were observed near Crimea. These included the Boeing P-8 Poseidon over the Black Sea near Romania, two American MQ-9 Reaper drones close to Bulgaria's territorial waters, a British Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint in the Black Sea area, a French E-3 Sentry with Dassault Rafale fighter escorts, an Italian G550 CAEW, and an American RQ-4B Global Hawk drone that allegedly came closest to Crimea’s airspace, according to Bulgarian Military.

ATACMS for Ukraine

Potential targets for ATACMS missiles, with their range extending up to 186 miles, include military assets and facilities in Crimea. These missiles, which can be launched from platforms like HIMARS and M270 MLRS, allow Ukrainian forces to hit strategic locations from a safe distance and target areas beyond the reach of conventional artillery, such as command centers and critical infrastructure.
The ATACMS missiles, almost 20 feet long and capable of speeds around Mach 3 (approx. 2272 mph), vary in weight from 3527 to 5070 pounds, depending on the variant.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that ATACMS long-range missiles are crucial for achieving peace as swiftly as possible. Conversely, the Kremlin, through spokesman Dmitry Peskov, holds that supplying Ukraine with these missiles won’t significantly alter the course of the conflict but will complicate matters for Ukraine itself.
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