Armed Forces

OSCE: Russian Thermobaric Rocket Artillery In Donbass

  • Fot. CNES–E. Grimault, 2016/ESA

International observers of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have recorded, that the TOS-1M Buratino rocket launchers are present within the Donbass area in Ukraine. The region is being controlled by the Pro-Russian separatists. The said equipment could have been deployed there only by the Russians.

Not only is the presence of the Buratino rocket artillery system a proof of the Russian involvement in the Lugansk and Donetsk districts, it also means that the rocket artillery firepower, remaining at disposal of the separatists, has been significantly amplified. This is due to the fact that the TOS-1M launcher does not utilize the conventional surface-to-surface rockets, as the BM-30 Smerch or BM-21 Grad rocket artillery systems. The Buratino weapon uses the air-fuel explosive (thermobaric) rockets.

Due to the effect caused by the Buratino system, the launcher is also often referred to as a heavy flamethrower. The purpose of the weapon is to cover vast ground areas with the firepower it produced. The system cannot be classified – without any doubt – as a precise weapon.

TOS-1M has never been a part of the inventory, used by the Ukrainian Army, thus only the Russians could have delivered the said launchers for the separatists to use. Outside Russia, Buratino is being used only by the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, Iraq and Kazakhstan.

So far, the Kremlin did not react to the OSCE reports.