Vladimir Putin has warned that any Western deliveries of longer-range rocket systems will prompt Moscow to hit “objects that we haven’t yet struck”. His pronouncement came after the West began stepping up its supply of military resources for Ukraine on Sunday.
The Russian leader’s threat of military escalation did not specify what the new targets might be but it came days after the US announced plans to deliver £560 million of security assistance for Ukraine that included four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems, as well as helicopters, Javelin anti-tank systems, radars, tactical vehicles and more.
The UK also announced it would send its first long-range missiles to Ukraine. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain would be sending an unspecified number of M270 launchers, which can fire precision-guided rockets up to 50 miles – a longer range than any missile technology currently in use in the war. In a television interview that aired on Sunday, Mr Putin lashed out at Western deliveries of weapons to Ukraine, saying they aim to prolong the war.
“All this fuss around additional deliveries of weapons, in my opinion, has only one goal: to drag out the armed conflict as much as possible,” Mr Putin said. He insisted such supplies were unlikely to change the military situation for Ukraine’s government, which he said was merely making up for losses of similar rockets.
If Kyiv gets longer-range rockets, he added, Moscow will “draw appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, which we have plenty of, in order to strike at those objects that we haven’t yet struck”. The missiles that hit Kyiv destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by eastern European countries and other armoured vehicles, the Russian Defence Ministry said.
Ukraine’s railway authority led reporters on a guided tour of a rail car repair plant in eastern Kyiv that it said was hit by four missiles. The authority said no military equipment had been stored there. “There were no tanks, and you can just be witness to this,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian president. However, a government adviser said on national TV that military infrastructure was also targeted.
Moscow also accused the West on Sunday of closing off lines of communication by forcing Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s plane to cancel a trip to Serbia for talks on Monday. And the Spanish daily El Pais reported on Sunday that Spain planned to supply anti-aircraft missiles and up to 40 Leopard 2 A4 battle tanks to Ukraine.
Before Sunday’s early morning attack, Kyiv had not faced a Russian airstrike since April 28. The attack triggered air-raid alarms and showed that Russia still had the capability and willingness to hit at Ukraine’s heart, despite refocusing its efforts to capture territory in the east.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in its daily intelligence update that Ukrainian counterattacks in Sieverodonetsk were “likely blunting the operational momentum Russian forces previously gained through concentrating combat units and firepower”. Russian forces previously had been making a string of advances in the city, but Ukrainian fighters have pushed back in recent days.
For more stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.