Return to sender! Russian surface-to-air missile does a U-TURN and smashes into the troops who fired it in spectacular malfunction
- Russian missile system makes spectacular malfunction and hits its launcher
- Blunder occurred near town of Alchevsk about 55 miles south of Severodonetsk
- Missile reportedly fired by pro-Russian separatists in Luhansk People's Republic
- Ukrainian forces retreating from Severodonetsk under brutal Russian artillery
- The first US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems have appeared on the battlefield
PUBLISHED: 22:12 AEST, 24 June 2022 | UPDATED: 22:25 AEST, 24 June 2022
Video has emerged of one rogue Russian air defence missile from a volley launched in the Luhansk region turning 180 degrees in mid air to smash into almost the exact location from where it was launched.
The video was reported to be filmed in the early hours this morning near the town of Alchevsk, about 55 miles south of Severodonetsk, where the fiercest fighting has been raging.
Reports indicate that the air defence missile system - possibly an S300 - was operated by Ukrainian pro-Russian separatists from the breakaway Luhansk People's Republic.
The cause of the malfunction is not clear, with some speculating that it may be due to hacking or jamming by a loitering Ukrainian drone, although this is considered unlikely.
The video shows the missile creating a large explosion on impact and showering the surrounding area in a bright cascade of sparks, thought to be caused by the missile's fuel exploding having not been spent on its flight.
The unverified video shows a volley of anti-aircraft missiles being fired into the night sky
But one of them decides on a change of plan and makes a stunning 180 degree U-turn in mid air
And then strikes with a furious impact almost directly into the location from where it was fired
According to local media reports, a fire erupted from the site not far from residential buildings. There were no reports on casualties suffered by Russian and separatist forces in the mishap.
A similar incident occurred in Saudi Arabia in 2018, when a US-made Patriot air defence missile fired to intercept ballistic missiles fired by Yemen's Houthi militia malfunctioned, turning around and crashing into a residential area of northeastern Riyadh.
Ukraine has had substantial success throughout the three month war employing loitering drones - notably the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone - to strike targets, something Russia's much-vaunted anti-aircraft missile systems have struggled to eliminate.
But Russia has been having far greater success with its concentrated artillery barrages, utilising them to slowly push Ukrainian positions in Severodonetsk back at the cost of virtually razing the city to the ground.
In response, Ukraine has been demanding long range, high-precision artillery missile systems from the West, as their own artillery runs out of ammunition and Russia continually strikes their munitions factories and warehouses.
The largest quantity of military systems and other aid has come from the United States, which announced it is sending another $450 million in fresh armaments, including four HIMARS rocket systems.
The systems can simultaneously launch multiple precision missiles at an extended range of 50 miles, and provide a capability that Ukraine is sorely lacking in the raging battlefields around Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the east.
Oleksii Reznikov, the Ukrainian Minister of Defence, tweeted yesterday: 'HIMARS have arrived to Ukraine. Thank you to my American colleague and friend, US Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools! Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them.'
US military personnel stand by a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in Saudi Arabia
The US is cooperating with Ukrainian demands to provide accurate, long-range weapons systems such as the HIMAR to match and exceed Russia on the battlefield
The Himars use precision-guided munitions with a range is about 50 miles (80 kilometres)
The Ukranian military is being forced to retreat from Severodonetsk, according to a senior Ukrainian official, due to a brutal Russian offensive that is reducing the battleground city to rubble with massed heavy artillery shelling that the Ukrainians cannot match.
'Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces,' Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine's military intelligence said two weeks ago, 'and we are losing in terms of artillery'.
'Everything now depends on what [the west] gives us,' said Skibitsky. 'Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our western partners have given us about 10% of what they have.'
Capturing Severodonetsk, in the Donbas region, has become a key goal of the Russians as they focus their offensive on eastern Ukraine after being repelled from Kyiv following their February invasion.
The strategically important industrial hub has been the scene of weeks of street battles as the outgunned Ukrainians put up a fierce defence.
But Sergiy Gaiday - governor of Lugansk, which includes the city - said the Ukrainian military would have to retreat.
'They have received an order to do so,' he said on Telegram.
'Remaining in positions that have been relentlessly shelled for months just doesn't make sense.'
The city has been 'nearly turned to rubble' by continual bombardment, he added.
Governor of Lugansk Sergiy Gaiday said that Ukrainian forces around Severodonetsk have been given the order to retreat as remaining in positions that have been relentlessly shelled 'doesn't make sense'
Ukrainian servicemen moving to a position in the city of Severodonetsk under heavy bombardment by Russian forces
Severodonetsk has been 'reduced to rubble' by concentrated heavy artillery shelling by the Russian army
'All critical infrastructure has been destroyed. Ninety percent of the city is damaged, 80 percent (of) houses will have to be demolished,' he said.
The Ukrainians had already been pushed back from much of the city, leaving them in control of only industrial areas.
Capturing Severodonetsk and its twin city of Lysychansk, Severodonetsk's sister city across the Donets river, would give the Russians control of Lugansk, and allow them to push further into the wider Donbas.
Gaiday said the Russians were now advancing on Lysychansk, which has been facing increasingly heavy Russian bombardment.
The situation for those that remain in the city was increasingly bleak.
Liliya Nesterenko said her house had no gas, water or electricity and she and her mother were cooking on a campfire. She was cycling along the street, and had come out to feed a friend's pets.
But the 39-year-old was upbeat about the city's defences: 'I believe in our Ukrainian army, they should (be able to) cope.
'They've prepared already.'
A representative of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine earlier told AFP the resistance of Ukrainian forces trying to defend Lysychansk and Severodonetsk was 'pointless and futile'.
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Return to sender! Russian missile U-turns and smashes into troops who fired it in malfunction
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