• The leadership of Russia’s Aerospace Forces (VKS) is highly likely under intense pressure to improve air defences over western Russia. In recent months, the range of threats penetrating well inside Russia has increased. Strikes deep inside Russia are strategically important because President Putin almost certainly invaded Ukraine on the assumption that it would have little direct effect on Russians.
  • Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles are regularly hitting Moscow. In addition, there have also been increasing reports of SA-5 GAMMON missiles striking Russia. This Soviet-era 7.5 tonne, 11-metre long weapon is retired from its air defence role in Ukraine’s inventory. However, it is now apparently being employed as a ground attack ballistic missile.
  • Pressure is likely to particularly fall on VKS Chief of Staff, Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov; VKS Commander-in-Chief General Sergei Surovikin remains absent, suspected to have been detained in relation to the June 2023 Wagner Group mutiny.
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