Russia’s Ministry of Defense has claimed that Ukrainian fighter jets fired Storm Shadow cruise missiles into Luhansk, striking two civilian targets.
Moscow said that the UK-supplied missiles struck a polymer-producing plant and a meat-processing factory in the eastern Ukrainian city, which has effectively been under Russian occupation since 2014.
“Storm Shadow air-to-air missiles supplied to the Kyiv regime by Britain were used for the strike, contrary to London’s statements that these weapons would not be used against civilian targets,” Reuters quoted the ministry’s statement.
It also claimed to have downed the two aircraft — a Su 24 and a Mig 29 — that launched the long-range MBDA missiles.
The news outlet stated that it couldn’t verify the claims.
#Ukraine: Remains of 🇬🇧 UK-supplied Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missiles were found at today's and yesterday's missile strike sites in the city of #Luhansk– confirming this new and very potent capability is already used by Ukrainian forces. pic.twitter.com/LAn0nqJBZU
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 13, 2023
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced on Thursday that the UK is supplying the air-launched weapon to Ukraine, without revealing the quantity.
“Today I can confirm that the UK is donating Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine,” Wallace said.
“The donation of these weapons systems gives Ukraine the best chance to defend themselves against Russia’s continued brutality.
“Ukraine has a right to be able to defend itself against this and the use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory,” he added.
A day later, Russia called the UK decision an “extremely hostile act.”
“Britain is obviously ready to overstep any boundaries and take the conflict to a fundamentally new level in terms of destruction and loss of life,” Moscow said.
At 155 miles (250 kilometers), the Storm Shadow is the longest-range munition delivered to Ukraine by its Western backers, including the US.
The missile’s 450-kilograms (990 pounds) warhead is capable of penetrating reinforced targets, such as command, control, and communications centers, airfields, and underground bunkers.
Ukraine has long been pressing for longer-range munitions from its Western partners to help its forces strike deep into the Russian-occupied territories such as Crimea.
Thus far, the Western countries had been avoiding Kyiv’s request for fear of escalation.