Despite sanctions, Russian cruise missiles have recently been manufactured

Some of the cruise missiles that Russia fired at Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure in late November were made months after Western sanctions were imposed aimed at depriving Moscow of the components needed to make those munitions, according to a weapons research group.

Experts examined remains of Kh-101 cruise missiles found in Kiev, the capital, after an attack on Nov. 23 that left much of the country powerless and water systems shut down. One of the missiles was made that summer, with another completed after September, according to markings on the weapon A report released by investigators on Monday.

That Russia continues to make advanced guided missiles like the Kh-101 suggests that it found ways to acquire semiconductors and other materials despite the sanctions, or that it had significant stockpiles of the components before the war began, one of the researchers said.

The results are among the latest from Conflict Arms Research, an independent UK-based group that identifies and tracks weapons and ammunition used in wars. A small team of his researchers arrived in Kiev shortly before the attack at the invitation of the Ukrainian security service.

In four previous research trips to Kiev since the invasion, investigators found that almost all of the advanced Russian military equipment they examined — such as encrypted radios and laser rangefinders — was built with Western semiconductors.

Investigators were unable to determine whether the Kh-101 remains they examined came from missiles that hit their targets and exploded, or whether they were intercepted in flight and shot down.

The Kh-101 missiles were marked with a 13-digit number sequence. Investigators said they believe the first three digits represent the factory that made the missile, followed by another three-digit code identifying which of two known versions of the Kh-101 it was, and two digits , indicating when it was made. A final set of five numbers is believed to indicate the production batch and missile serial number.

Piotr Butowski, a Polish journalist who has written extensively on Russia’s warplanes and military munitions, said the group’s numerical analysis is consistent with his research.

“The first three digits are always ‘315’ – that’s the manufacturing facility code,” Mr. Butowski said in an email. “Kh-101 missiles are developed and manufactured by the Raduga company in Dubna near Moscow.”

In an interview ahead of the report’s release, a US defense intelligence analyst said Mr Butowski’s analysis is consistent with the government’s understanding of how Russian missile makers — including those making the Kh-101 — mark their weapons. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Russia had widely believed it was having ammunition stockpile problems and might be using newer ammunition alongside much older ones.

The analyst said reports from Russia suggest the government has ordered employees at munitions plants to work extra hours to produce more ordnance and that Russia is now firing fewer long-range weapons, such as cruise missiles, at a smaller number of targets in Ukraine.

Pentagon officials say Russia has fired thousands of long-range weapons, including cruise missiles and short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, at targets in Ukraine since the war began.

It is unclear whether Russia has used up its inventory of older cruise missiles. But militaries often use older ammunition first in combat because they typically make up a majority of a nation’s stockpile.

On November 23, the same day as the cruise missile attack on Kiev, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said. told reporters that Russia’s supply of precision-guided weapons has been “significantly reduced” and that it would be harder for Russia to manufacture them quickly “due to the trade restrictions they have on microchips and other types of things.”

But Damien Spleeters, who led Conflict Armament Research’s investigation, said it’s hard to say the Russians are running out of arms.

“These claims have been made since April,” he said, “so we’re just suggesting that these cruise missiles, which were only recently made, could be a symptom, but it’s not a certainty.” Despite sanctions, Russian cruise missiles have recently been manufactured

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