Russian commander drives Putin’s prized £11m air defence system into a bridge | World | News

An unnamed Russian commander has been handed a 50,000 rubles (£426) fine and ordered to pay 14 million rubles (£119,300) after he crashed a prized missile system into a railway bridge.

According to court documents, the St Petersburg Garrison Military Court upheld a claim from Russia‘s Defense Ministry demanding payment for the damaged gun and missile Pantsir-S1 system.

The officer was charged with the destruction or damage of military property because of negligence.

The man reportedly failed to fold down part of the equipment as he drove down St. Petersburg’s Pulkovskoe Highway in July, causing it to crash into a railway bridge.

The system is one of the most prized assets in Russia‘s military arsenal, estimated to be worth around £11 million and the spearhead of Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine.

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The Pantsir-S1 is a short-range system normally used against aircraft and cruise missiles. It’s also widely used in support of air defence units in large-scale strikes.

Only weeks before the crash, a drunk soldier had driven an S-400 air defence system into a ditch in the Tula region.

Telegram channels reported the system had overturned into a ditch next to a highway.

Russian channel Baza reported the driver, 33, had failed a breathalyser test.

It said: “Yesterday, a serviceman lost control and dropped a tractor with an anti-aircraft missile system into a ditch.” Another channel confirmed the claim in a separate post.

Vladimir Putin repeatedly praised both the Pantsir and the S-400 as “flawless” assets only earlier this week.

Putin said: “Our well-known Pantsir, Buki, S-300, and S-400 systems work flawlessly.

“They are the best in the world, without any exaggeration.”

He also called on the military industry to ramp up domestic production of precision projectiles as he continued to pursue his goals in Ukraine.

He added: “I know that changes are happening, they are happening quite quickly, I will tell you more about it.

“But we still need to work on it, we need to consolidate this trend. The work of air defence also needs to be improved.”

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