Russia has since summer been transferring a large number of anti-aircraft missiles toward Ukraine, including from as far away as St. Petersburg, Finnish broadcaster Yle reported on Sept. 18.
Yle said satellite images of Russian bases reveal that both mobile firing platforms and missiles disappeared during the summer from a base in the Zelenogorsk (Terijoki) area on the Karelian Isthmus, northwest of St. Petersburg, among others.
St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-most important city, has long been surrounded by a protective ring of 14 anti-aircraft missile bases. Now several of them stand empty.
“Based on the pictures, four anti-aircraft bases have been emptied of equipment,” military expert Maj. (Ret.) Marko Eklund told Yle.
A map below shows anti-aircraft missile batteries around St. Petersburg, 170 kilometers from the Finnish border.
According to Eklund, the transfer of equipment is unlikely to have significantly weakened St. Petersburg’s air defences, because the armament that has been removed is its oldest, so Russia may no longer necessarily need it for defensive purposes.
“It is most likely that the equipment that has been removed is primarily from the old S-300 system,” said Eklund.
The pair of images below shows that all missile firing platforms have been removed from a missile battery near the village of Kerstovo. In the first picture, a row of 12 of them can be seen in the upper right-hand corner.
The first picture is from a year ago and the latest one is from early September.
One-and-a-half kilometres to the northeast lies another battery operated by the same regiment. It too has been completely emptied. All that remains is equipment from a radar station using the same base.
Thus, only two of the regiment’s four batteries remain in place. Pictures obtained by Yle show that about 25 missile containers, possibly containing 100 missiles, have been removed from one of the two remaining batteries.
According to Eklund, at a base east of St. Petersburg, close to the shore of Lake Ladoga, missile containers were loaded onto transport platforms in May.
The second image shows that not only the missile containers, but also a row of vehicles that have been standing in the open for years, have disappeared. As many as 120 missiles may have been removed from the site in the missile containers.
There has also been a significant transfer of equipment from a base southeast of St. Petersburg – about 10 firing platforms as well as other vehicles.
Eklund believes that the weakening of missile defences on the outskirts of St. Petersburg is due to Russia’s need for missiles in its war on Ukraine.
Even more equipment may have been taken from the St. Petersburg region, but Yle could not obtain usable recent satellite images of all batteries.