Vladimir Putin, Russian President, has cautioned the West against supplying Ukraine with long-range missiles, after Moscow said it had struck targets in Kyiv, destroying tanks and other armored equipment supplied by Western countries.
If advanced rocket systems are delivered to Ukraine, Putin has threatened that he will strike new targets, and that fresh military exports to Kyiv will just “prolong the conflict.”
Moscow “will draw the appropriate conclusions and use our arms…. to strike at those targets which we have not yet been hitting,” the Russian leader said without specifying which targets he meant.
His remarks come days after US President Joe Biden announced the US would send “rocket systems that can strike into Russia”, but a day later announced he had decided to provide Ukraine with “more advanced rocket systems and munitions”, without mentioning the systems by name.
Ukraine has been seeking Multiple Rocket Launch Systems (MLRS) such as the M270 and M142 HIMARS to hit troops and weapons stockpiles at the Russian forces’ rear.
While Kyiv has stressed it would not hit targets inside Russia, there are concerns that providing such weapons would risk drawing the US and its NATO allies into direct conflict with Moscow.
Russian officials have repeatedly warned that the US decision to supply Ukraine with advanced rocket systems could exacerbate the conflict.
Putin also insisted it would not bring on any fundamental changes on the battlefield.
Speaking to the Rossiya-1 state television channel, he said the “fuss” around Western weapon supplies to Ukraine was designed to drag out the conflict.
“We understand that this supply from the United States and some other countries is meant to make up for the losses of this military equipment,” Putin said.
“This is nothing new. It doesn’t change anything in essence.”
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Russia said on Sunday it had used long-range missiles to destroy tanks supplied to Ukraine by Eastern European countries during attacks on Kyiv.
“High-precision, long-range missiles fired by the Russian Aerospace Forces on the outskirts of Kyiv destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armoured vehicles that were in hangars,” Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
A barrage of air raids shattered five weeks of eerie calm in Ukraine’s capital on Sunday, reportedly pounding railway facilities and other infrastructure.
There was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine that the Russian attacks had destroyed tanks.
Operator of nuclear power plants Energoatom said a cruise missile buzzed the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear facility on its approach to the capital, roughly 350 kilometers (220 miles) to the south, and emphasized the perils of such a near miss.