In its latest intelligence update, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Russia’s Aerospace Forces (VKS) is under huge pressure to improve air defences over western Russia due to the increased range of threats.
The MoD wrote: “Strikes deep inside Russia are strategically important because President Putin almost certainly invaded Ukraine on the assumption that it would have little direct effect on Russians.
“Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles are regularly hitting Moscow. In addition, there have also been increasing reports of SA-5 GAMMON missiles striking Russia.
“This Soviet-era 7.5 tonne, 11-metre long weapon is retired from its air defence role in Ukraine’s inventory. However, it is now apparently being employed as a ground attack ballistic missile.”
They added: “Pressure is likely to particularly fall on VKS Chief of Staff, Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov; VKS Commander-in-Chief General Sergei Surovikin remains absent, suspected to have been detained in relation to the June 2023 Wagner Group mutiny.”
The attack hit the Taras Shevchenko Theatre as well as a church crammed with religious holiday-goers in the city of Chernihiv, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.
The destruction also injured more than 100 others. Speaking during a visit to Sweden, Mr Zelensky said the attack had turned “an ordinary Saturday into a day of pain and loss”.