Vladimir Putin’s cruise missiles ‘could reach UK in an hour’ if NATO enters Ukraine was against Russia

Russian missiles could reach the UK in an hour if British forces went to the defense of Ukraine, experts have warned.

Putin’s warships and submarines are capable of launching Kalibr cruise missiles at UK cities and vital infrastructure from more than 1,000 miles from the east coast of Scotland.

Dr Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow for sea power and missile defense at the Royal United Services Institute, said: “Do the Russians have missiles capable of reaching the UK? Yes, absolutely. ”

But he said the risk remains low as NATO countries have been clear they will not use military force against Russia in the Ukraine war.

Speaking after Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said the consequences of entering the Ukraine war would be cruise missile attacks by Russia, Dr Kaushal said: “Russia has invested in a wide variety of missiles. The 3M-14 Caliber is a rough analogue to the Tomahawk missile on every platform they have.

“It’s something they have focused a lot on in the Russian navy and they have a historic focus on launching cruise missiles from their strategic bombers.

“There’s definitely a chance but only if the UK became a party to the war, but if that was to happen, you would expect the Russians to launch missiles to attack infrastructure in the UK.”

Vladimir Putin continues his invasion of Ukraine (Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool via AP)

Dr Kaushal said it remained unclear how many cruise missiles Russia has but the country is thought to have struggled to deliver them in very large numbers, with one report suggesting about 120 were produced in 2018.

“I’d expect the cruise missile arsenal to be large but not limitless,” he said. “They would have to be careful about what they hit.”

The 3M-14 Kalibr has a range of up to 1,500 miles and can be fired from ships such as Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates and smaller corvettes, as well as Akula and Kilo-class submarines, reaching more than twice the speed of sound if it nears its target.

“There would be surface interdiction by NATO so it would not necessarily be easy for the Russians to get within range but [we] would expect some portion of their assets to be able to launch cruise missiles that reach the UK.

“Bombers such as the Backfire would have to get around Scandinavia to get into range and could expect interception,” Dr Kaushal added.

An RAF Typhoon takes off from RAF Coningsby as UK forces are deployed in eastern Europe to bolster NATO’s eastern front (Photo: SAC Maryanne Williams RAF / MOD / PA)

He said the UK probably “does not have the most sophisticated missile defense system” compared to countries such as Israel, but the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers are “very capable” at anti-air warfare and RAF Typhoons can also intercept incoming aircraft and missiles , while the Army has a missile defense system known as Sky Saber.

He said: “The impact would depend on what a missile hit. If they hit critical national infrastructure, a power station, a few cruise missiles could suspend operations for some time depending on what was hit. It really depends on what they were aimed at and what they hit.

“If NATO did get involved in a war with Russia, but I do not think it will, the first step would be conventional cruise missiles against NATO countries rather than going straight to the nuclear button, but that risk still remains.”

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