New footage circulating online appears to show the inside of a Russian mobile surface-to-air missile vehicle just seconds before and as an attack hits the air defense system.
in clip, posted on social media, a control panel is visible, and occasionally an unknown operator has been seen pressing buttons on the console. Then an explosion shakes the camera, which keeps swinging after the explosion until the footage ends.
Although it is impossible to know for sure which system is featured in the clip, it appears to be the Russian TOR system, according to military expert David Hambling. Also known by the NATO reporting name Sa-15 Gauntlet, the late Soviet-era system and its later variants saw widespread service in Ukraine.
The clip appears to show two rocket launches 10 seconds apart, Hambling said Newsweek.
“Then the operator starts pressing buttons hastily and appears to go through a reset process, so there may have been a problem,” such as the missile not being fired, he added. The driver is then seen evacuating the vehicle, with a small explosion later, he said.
Newsweek could not independently verify when and where this footage was taken, nor confirm that it shows the interior of an air defense system operated by Moscow's armed forces. The Russian Defense Ministry was emailed for comment.
“The simplest narrative would be that the crew saw incoming threats and fired missiles at them, but they could see on their radar that one or more threats were still arriving and they were the target,” Hambling said.
“So they abandoned their vehicle, which was then hit by a small warhead” that wasn't big enough to completely destroy the system, he added.
“Vehicles like this are used primarily to repel attacks from enemy aircraft, missiles and drones and are extremely valuable targets,” continued Hambling. It's possible the person in the video was shot down by small drones within a few miles of the current front line, he said.
The multi-million dollar tracking systems have some “difficulties against a large number of small, cheap drones: if you have eight missiles, the ninth drone will catch you,” he added.
Air defense is of central importance for both Russian and Ukrainian troops in what has now been the 18-month war. Ukraine has lobbied for more air defense systems from its Western backers, while Russia frequently claims its defenses have intercepted incoming Ukrainian drone strikes.
In the early hours of Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had destroyed two Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles over Moscow and two other drones over the Bryansk border region.
As Ukraine's counter-offensive against Russian forces in eastern and southern Ukraine entered its third month, Kiev increased its demands for advanced systems from the west to improve its ability to repel incoming Russian attacks on infrastructure and cities.
Ukraine has pushed for both more air defense systems and modern Western-made fighter jets to offset Russia's air dominance as the counteroffensive appears to be faltering.
“Every day, every week, we work to ensure that our defenders of the sky have more air defense systems and missiles,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier this month. Ukraine needs “much more air defense systems than we have now,” he added.
On August 6, Zelenskyi said Ukraine's air force had shot down more than 5,500 Russian air targets heading for the war-torn country since the all-out war broke out in February 2022.
Figures from Germany's Defense Ministry, updated in mid-August, showed that Berlin had delivered two more Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine, touted as a turning point even against Russia's Kinzhal hypersonic missile, which Moscow had touted as unstoppable.