radar site
© Igor ZaremboA Russian Voronezh-DM radar station in Kaliningrad Region
Reported Ukrainian attack on a key radar site could trigger retaliation, an expert analysis shared by the Austrian armed forces says.

A reported Ukrainian attack on a Russian early-warning radar installation may have been approved by the US and poses the risk of a nuclear escalation, an analysis published by the Austrian armed forces has warned.

Ukrainian sources claimed last week that Kiev had delivered a strike at a Voronezh-DM site in Russia's southern Krasnodar Region, near the city of Armavir. The alleged operation is significant, considering that the facility is part of Russian nuclear deterrence, according to a text by Colonel Markus Reisner and posted by the Austrian military on Sunday.

It is unlikely that attacking the radar station had direct military value for Kiev, Reisner argues. Disabling it would reduce the amount of intelligence that Russia collects on Ukrainian launches of US-donated ATACMS ballistic missiles, he added. But the station is designed to detect intercontinental ballistic missiles that fly at altitudes much higher than the tactical weapons used by Ukraine.

The expert suggested that the alleged attack may have been a US-sanctioned response to Moscow's reminders that it could use non-strategic nuclear weapons under certain circumstances. Senior Ukrainian and Western officials have called those statements a form of blackmail. Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin ordered tactical nuclear exercises in the Southern Military District, which borders Ukraine. Moscow said this was in response to increasingly hostile rhetoric by Western officials.

Reisner wrote:
"If this is indeed the case, two further conclusions can be drawn: first, the situation in Ukraine is extremely serious and, second, the war over Ukraine has escalated again. Such an attack could qualify for a nuclear retaliation."
Russia's nuclear doctrine says that its nuclear arsenal may be used in four scenarios, one of which is "enemy action against critical Russian government and military facilities, the disabling of which would prevent a nuclear response."

Over-the-horizon radar stations, such as the Voronezh-DM, are meant to detect ICBM launches and inform the national leadership, at which point officials can make a decision on whether to fire back.

The Russian Defense Ministry has so far not commented on the alleged attack.

Washington has previously been accused of brinkmanship in its stand-off with Russia. Investigative journalist Seymor Hersh has claimed that the US was behind the 2022 bombings of the Nord Stream gas pipelines, which were built to deliver Russian natural gas directly to Germany. The US government has rejected the allegations, but Moscow has said it found them credible.