Russia shells Ukraine with cruise missiles handed over by Kyiv to Moscow in the late 90s

Russia shelled Ukraine with Kh-55 air-launched cruise missiles, which the official Kyiv handed over to Moscow for gas debts.

This became known during the investigation by the Schemes publication project of Radio Svoboda.

The journalists obtained the text of an agreement and a list of numbers of the transferred missiles.

The cruise missiles were transferred to Ukraine under the agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers and the Russian government in 1999 in exchange for repayment of debts for Russian gas.

The journalist project  "Schemes" compared the numbers of those missiles with the Kh-55s that the Russian army began to use against Ukraine during the full-scale invasion after 24 February 2023.

The journalists discovered at least a dozen missiles of those fired by Russia at Ukraine to be on the list in the 1990s. Some of them were shot down by Ukrainian air defence forces, while some hit residential buildings.

The Kh-55 missile, which the Russian Federation fired at Ukraine. Photo credits: Radio Svoboda, Schemy project

Three such Russian missiles, shot down by Ukrainian air defense in January, May, and April 2023 in Kyiv and the region, are among those transferred to Moscow in 1999.

Another Kh-55, which at the end of 2022 hit an apartment building in the Ukrainian capital and killed a woman, was also handed over by Kyiv as part of the agreement. Another missile, which Ukraine also handed over to Russia, hit a house in the Kyiv region, injuring a child.

The Schemes identified several more missiles with the help of photos with numbers on the wreckage obtained from law enforcement sources.

In total, the journalists managed to identify over ten air-launched cruise missiles that Ukraine had previously transferred to Russia and that the aggressor country had already used.

The journalists searched the archives for an agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, headed by Valerii Pustovoitenko, and the Russian government, led by Vladimir Putin, signed in Yalta in 1999. According to the agreement, Kyiv handed over eight Tu-160, three Tu-95MS bombers, and 575 Kh-55 cruise missiles to Moscow. In return, Russia compensated Ukraine for its debt of 275 million hryvnias for Russian gas. This is the determined value of the transferred equipment.

As previously reported, in the fall of last year, the Russians began to use Soviet air-launched cruise missiles designed to carry a nuclear warhead against Ukraine. However, in this case, the missiles had no warhead but only a mass-size simulator. Such missiles are primarily designed to detect positions and exhaust Ukrainian air defense. But due to their kinetic energy and fuel residues, they still pose a threat.

Russian troops shelled Nikopol with heavy artillery

Russian forces attacked Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast two times on Aug. 3, using heavy artillery, Governor Serhii Lysak said on Telegram.

The shelling damaged a local utility company, Lysak said.

No civilians were injured in the attacks.

Nikopol lies across the Dnipro River from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The plant is controlled by occupying Russian troops, who subject the residents of Nikopol to regular shelling.

Governor Lysak wished a calm evening to the citizens of Ukraine and "a hellishly hot" one for the occupiers.

Russia doubles defense spending plan for 2023

Russia has doubled its defense spending plan for 2023 to more than $100 billion, which makes up one-third of all public expenditures, Reuters reported on Aug. 4.

In the first half of 2023, Russian defense spending amounted to 5.59 trillion rubles ($59 billion), which was 37.3% of a total of 14.97 trillion rubles ($156 billion) spent by the state in that period, Reuters said.

The news agency reported this by citing an exclusive document it has obtained as the Russian specific-sector expenditures are no longer public.

As Reuters pointed out, Russia's budget is in a $28 billion deficit, among other reasons, due to decreasing export profits.

A large section of Russia's profits has been traditionally made up of oil and gas export revenues. The European market, previously a significant target for these exports, is steadily drying up due to the Western pushback to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Rising military costs could further widen this deficit, Reuters said.

In January and February of 2023, Russia's public data showed a defense spending of 2 trillion rubles ($21 billion), a 282% increase compared to the same period in 2022.