Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has accused Ukraine of planning strikes against Russia using American-supplied HIMARS and UK-supplied Storm Shadow missiles, which he said would “entail immediate strikes on decision-making centers in Ukraine.” He also said that such a move would would imply “the full involvement of the United States and the United Kingdom in the conflict.”
Ukrainian forces have used HIMARS extensively over the past year to target Russian logistical and transportation infrastructure far beyond the frontlines. Likewise, recently deployed Storm Shadow missiles have been used to strike targets even further past the operational range of HIMARS. Storm Shadows have a range of 300km, which allows for Ukrainian aircraft to strike targets anywhere within Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine.
Both systems, but especially the Storm Shadow, have the capability of striking targets deep within Russia, however, it has been agreed upon that western-supplied weapons would not be used offensively against targets in Russian territory. One key issue, however, is Crimea. Russia considers Crimea to be part of Russian territory following its annexation in 2014 while Ukraine still considers the land to be rightfully theirs and have pledged to retake it at all costs. While Ukraine has regularly launched attacks against Russian targets in Crimea, namely the Sevastopol and the Kerch Bridge, neither HIMARS or Storm Shadows have been utilized so far.
The use of American and British-supplied weapons against Crimea could cross one of Russia’s many “red lines” that would lead to a further escalation of conflict, namely increased strikes against power infrastructure and the potential of targeted attacks against key Ukrainian government and military centers in the capital, which Shoigu warned of above. Russia has regularly accused western nations of having direct involvement in the conflict, so it remains unclear what their response would be if this scenario played out.