A video appeared on Russian Telegram channels that showed a missile strike purportedly destroying a Ukrainian S-300 unit in the Donetsk region, but others say it may be a pared-down version of the US-made Patriot used in Ukraine’s recent air defense successes.

The Russian milblogger Wrong_Side posted an annotated video of what he claimed was an Iskander-M ballistic missile strike on an air defense unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) traveling along a road west of Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region.

He said the convoy consisted of three S-300PS air defense missile launchers, an associated radar system and two escort vehicles.

Two hours later the blogger updated his post quoting another Russian milblogger LostArmour who said that they had analyzed the video footage further and concluded that the strike had in fact destroyed two AFU Patriot missile launchers.

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It based its different interpretation on a February article in the pro-Kremlin news site Ria Novosti that claimed Ukraine was using a stripped-down version of the US Patriot anti-aircraft missile system (SAM) to increase its mobility.

It quoted a Russian military analyst Alexei Leonkov who said “The Ukrainian Armed Forces use a version of the Patriot air defense system, stripped down to a firing section, consisting of two launchers, a mobile command post and a multifunctional target tracking and missile guidance radar. All of them are mounted on semi-trailers. Such a stripped-down composition allows the complex to be quickly transferred to different places.”

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LostArmour said that its review of the debris left after Saturday’s missile attack was consistent with this formation claiming “the axles of the [destroyed] tractor and semi-trailer, are more characteristic of the Patriot rather than the S-300 launcher.”

David Axe, a commentator on military issues, took up this assessment in a piece for Forbes on Saturday evening. His article seemed to accept the pro-Kremlin bloggers’ stance on this and commented that “Ukrainian Patriot batteries in the last month have shot down as many as a dozen Russian air force fighter-bombers… it’s possible the launchers and crews that the Iskander struck this week, 20 miles from the front line, were the very same launchers and crews who shot [them] down.”

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Axe included an X/Twitter post by a Polish milblogger WarVehicle Tracker, who aggregated all the analysis available to conclude it was indeed a Patriot air defense team that had been struck.

Whether or not it was indeed Patriot or S-300 launchers that were struck the loss will be a setback to the AFU but not necessarily the body-blow that Axe and the Russian milbloggers seem to assume.

Each time Ukraine loses a piece of equipment such as an Abrams or Leopard tank or a HIMARS launcher it is portrayed as being a fatal strike against the AFU’s ability to fight. The reality is that in a war there will be losses and key equipment needs to be used for its primary purpose and therefore risks being lost – otherwise there is no point in having it.

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Comments ( 1)

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John
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

It does seem to have been a Patriot. The Russians seem to have known where it would be which surprises me. I am sorry for any crew lost.

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