Russia has said that its Admiral Gorshkov frigate has carried out an exercise involving its new Zircon hypersonic missile in the Atlantic Ocean, hitting a target over 900 kilometres away, as these images purport to show.
The footage apparently shows the Russian vessel preparing to launch the Zircon hypersonic missile, which reportedly only entered service in January this year, at the “mock enemy target” before a missile hatch on the vessel opens and it seemingly fires the weapon.
But the footage does not show the missile shooting into the sky or hitting its target.
The images were obtained from the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Wednesday, 25th January, along with a statement claiming: “The crew of the ‘Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov’ frigate, operating in the western part of the Atlantic Ocean, conducted an exercise on the use of hypersonic missile weapons using computer simulation.
“In accordance with the training situation, the ‘Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov’ frigate worked out the organisation of launching a missile strike with a ‘Zirkon’ hypersonic missile at a sea target simulating a ship of a mock enemy and located at a distance of more than 900 kilometres [560 miles].
“In the course of the training task, the combat crew of the frigate demonstrated a high coordination of actions.
“The voyage of a detachment of ships consisting of the ‘Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov’ frigate and the medium sea tanker ‘Kama’ is under the command of the commander of the division of missile ships of the Northern Fleet, Captain 1st Rank Oleg Gladky.
“In February 2023, a number of joint exercises are planned to be held off the coast of the Republic of South Africa with the Navy of the Republic of South Africa and the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China.
“The ‘Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov’ frigate is a modern multi-purpose ship with guided missile weapons designed to solve problems in the far sea and ocean zones. A ship armed with Zircons is capable of inflicting pinpoint powerful strikes against any enemy targets at sea and on land.
“At the same time, a feature of the Zircon hypersonic missiles is the ability to reliably overcome any modern and advanced air defense and missile defense systems.”
We have not been able to independently verify the claims or the footage.
The Zircon is an anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile reportedly used by the Russian Navy as of 4th January 2023, with production beginning in 2021, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24th February 2022 in what the Kremlin is still calling a “special military operation”. Today marks the 336th day of the war.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that between 24th February 2022 and 25th January 2023, Russia had lost about 123,080 personnel, 3,161 tanks, 6,307 armoured combat vehicles, 2,154 artillery units, 450 multiple launch rocket systems, 220 air defence systems, 290 warplanes, 281 helicopters, 1,902 drones, 749 cruise missiles, 18 warships, 4,967 motor vehicles and fuel tankers, and 194 units of special equipment.
Russia has claimed that its casualties have been much lower but provides infrequent updates on its latest figures.
The United States is reportedly set to begin a process that would eventually result in dozens of its M1 Abrams main battle tanks being sent to Ukraine, according to American media.
The government of US President Joe Biden is reportedly expected to announce a plan that would result in at least 30 of its M1 Abrams tanks being sent to Ukraine.
The revelation comes after reports emerged on Tuesday that Berlin is set to announce that it will send German-made tanks to Ukraine and authorise other countries to do the same.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reportedly decided to send at least 14 of his country’s Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and is set to address the German Parliament on the matter today (Wednesday).
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, said the move was “another blatant provocation”, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said supplying Ukraine with Leopard tanks would “bring nothing good to the future relationship” between Germany and Russia.
The US and Germany had until now resisted internal and external pressure to send their tanks to Ukraine.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary-General, said: “At this pivotal moment in the war, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine, and we must do it faster.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that his country needed its allies to make a decision about delivering tanks to Ukraine, adding that the issue was not about five, 10 or 15 tanks, as Ukraine’s needs are greater, but about reaching long-lasting decisions on deliveries.
Fifteen senior officials in Ukraine have left their jobs since Saturday. Six of them face corruption allegations.
The move is widely seen as being part of Zelensky’s push to tackle corruption in Ukraine and is his biggest reshuffle since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of his country.