By JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia on Sunday targeted Western military supplies for Ukraine, launching airstrikes on Kyiv it claims destroyed tanks donated from abroad, as Vladimir Putin warned that any deliveries of longer-range rocket systems would incite Moscow to hit “objects we haven’t hit yet.”
The cryptic threat of military escalation from the Russian leader did not specify what the new targets might be. This came days after the United States announced its intention to provide $700 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including four precision-guided medium-range rocket systems, as well as helicopters, Javelin anti-tank systems, radars, tactical vehicles and more.
Military analysts say Russia hopes to invade the industrial Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian government since 2014, before any US weapons that could turn the tide are n ‘arrived. The Pentagon said last week that it would take at least three weeks to bring US weapons to the battlefield.
Ukraine said missiles targeting the capital hit a train repair shop. Elsewhere, Russian airstrikes in the eastern town of Druzhkivka destroyed buildings and left at least one dead, a Ukrainian official said on Sunday. Residents described waking up to the sound of missile strikes, with rubble and glass falling around them.
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“It was like in a horror movie,” Svitlana Romashkina said.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko has urged the city’s residents to leave, saying on Facebook that the crumbling buildings can be restored but “we won’t be able to bring back the lost lives”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said air-launched precision missiles were used to destroy workshops in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, including in Druzhkivka, which were repairing damaged Ukrainian military equipment .
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces fired five X-22 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea towards Kyiv, and one was destroyed by air defenses. Four other missiles hit “infrastructure facilities”, but Ukraine said there were no casualties.
Nuclear power plant operator Energoatom said a cruise missile buzzed near the Pivdennukrainsk nuclear power plant, 350 kilometers (220 miles) to the south, and warned of the possibility of nuclear disaster if even a missile fragment hit the plant.
On the Telegram app, the Russian Defense Ministry said high-precision, long-range air-launched missiles were used on the outskirts of Kyiv, destroying T-72 tanks supplied by countries in Eastern Europe. the East and other armored vehicles in a car repair shop.
But the head of Ukraine’s railway system dismissed the claim that tanks were inside. Oleksandr Kamyshin said four missiles hit the Darnytsia auto repair plant, but no military equipment was stored there. He said the site was used to repair gondolas and grain export transporters.
“Russia lied again,” he wrote on Telegram. “Their real focus is the economy and the civilian population. They want to block our ability to export Ukrainian products.”
In a television interview broadcast on Sunday, Putin denounced Western arms shipments to Ukraine, saying they were aimed at prolonging the conflict.
“All this hype about additional arms deliveries, in my opinion, has only one goal: to prolong the armed conflict as long as possible,” Putin said. He insisted that such supplies were unlikely to change the military situation of the Ukrainian government, which he said was only compensating for losses from similar rockets.
If Kyiv gets longer-range rockets, he added, Moscow “will draw appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, which we have in abundance, to hit the objects we haven’t hit yet”. .
The United States has stopped offering longer-range weapons to Ukraine that could fire deep into Russia. But the four medium-range high-mobility artillery rocket systems in the Security Pack include wheeled launchers that allow troops to hit a target and then scoot away quickly, which could be useful against Russian artillery on the battlefield.
Spanish daily El Pais reported on Sunday that Spain plans to supply anti-aircraft missiles and up to 40 Leopard 2 A4 battle tanks to Ukraine. The Spanish Ministry of Defense did not comment on the report.
In Darnystki district in eastern Kyiv, a column of smoke filled the air with an acrid smell above the charred and blackened wreckage of a warehouse-like structure. The soldiers blocked a nearby road leading to a large rail yard.
Prior to Sunday’s early morning attack, Kyiv had not faced such Russian airstrikes since the April 28 visit of UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The attack raised air raid alarms and showed that Russia still had the ability and the will to strike at the heart of Ukraine, despite refocusing its efforts to capture Ukrainian territory to the east.
In recent days, Russian forces have focused on capturing the eastern Ukrainian towns of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. On Sunday, they continued their push, with missiles and airstrikes on towns and villages in Donbass.
In the cities of Sloviansk and Bakhmut, cars and military vehicles were seen speeding towards the frontline on Sunday. Dozens of military doctors and paramedics worked to evacuate Ukrainian civilians and military, and a hospital was busy treating the wounded, many of whom had been hit by artillery fire.
The British Army said in its daily intelligence update that the Ukrainian counterattacks at Sieverodonetsk “probably blunted the operational momentum that Russian forces had previously gained by concentrating combat units and firepower”. Russian forces had previously made a series of advances into the city, but Ukrainian fighters have pushed back in recent days.
The statement also said that the Russian army partly relies on the reserve forces of the Luhansk separatists.
“These troops are poorly equipped and poorly trained, and lack heavy equipment compared to regular Russian units,” the intelligence update said, adding that the move “indicates a desire to limit casualties to Russian regular forces. “.
Both parties to the conflict waged information warfare, especially on television, as well as military attacks. Russian news agency Tass reported on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had shut down television service in Donetsk, where it said a broadcast tower had collapsed. Ukrainian authorities did not immediately confirm the attack.
In the port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, which Russia claimed to have captured in May following a brutal month-long siege, an aide to the mayor said water supplies contaminated with corpses and rotting garbage caused dysentery and posed a threat of cholera and other diseases.
In remarks made by the Ukrainian news agency Unian, Petro Andriushchenko said that the Russian authorities controlling the city had imposed a quarantine. He did not describe the measures that the Russian authorities had included and his report could not be independently confirmed.
World Health Organization officials warned last month of the threat of cholera and other infectious diseases in Mariupol.
Also on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the Zaporizhzhia region in the southeast, which is partly under Russian control. He received a battle report, thanked troops and met refugees on what was only his second public visit outside the Kyiv region since the war began.
Away from the battlefield, Ukraine’s national footballers missed out on qualifying for a World Cup spot, losing 1-0 to Wales in an emotionally charged mission to Cardiff. Back home, Ukrainians gathered in bars to watch the game.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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