Britain says sanctions also impact Russian defense sector

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The European Union’s outright ban on Russian coal imports went into effect Thursday at a time when British defense intelligence said Western sanctions were increasingly frustrating. impact even on Russia’s defense exports.

Britain said Moscow was already stretched by the need to produce armored fighting vehicles for its troops in Ukraine and therefore “is highly unlikely that it will be able to fulfill some orders at export”, in a sector of which it has long been proud.

The British defense intelligence update, highlighting the “growing effect of Western sanctions”, is consistent with the Western belief that the series of measures they have imposed on the Kremlin since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine have more and more impact on the Russian economy.

The update states that as a result of war and sanctions, “its military industrial capacity is now strained, and the credibility of many of its weapons systems has been undermined by their association with the poor performance of Russian forces”.

Russia’s military credibility came under pressure on Wednesday when Ukraine said nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in a series of explosions at a Russian-controlled air base in Crimea, which appeared to be the result of a Ukrainian attack.

Russia has denied that any planes were damaged in the explosions – or that an attack took place. But satellite photos clearly showed that at least seven fighter jets at the base had exploded and others were likely damaged.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace dismissed Russian explanations for the blasts, including a wayward cigarette butt, as an “apology”.

“When you just look at the footage of two simultaneous explosions not quite side by side, and some of the damage reported even by the Russian authorities, I think it’s clear that this is not something that happens when someone ‘one drops a cigarette,’ Wallace said. .

Thursday also marked the day an EU ban on coal imports from Russia took effect after a long phase-in dating back to April. The 27-nation EU said it would affect about 25% of Russian coal exports and create a loss of about $8 billion a year. The EU is also trying to wean itself off Russian gas imports, but is too dependent on imposing a full ban.

As the war now approaches halfway through the year, Russia faces other challenges as well.

As Russia continues to suffer losses in its invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has refused to announce a large-scale mobilization, not least because such a move could be very unpopular for President Vladimir Putin. It has instead led to a covert recruitment effort that includes the use of prisoners to fill the labor shortage.

It also comes amid reports of hundreds of Russian soldiers refusing to fight and trying to quit the military.

On the ground in Ukraine itself, the war continued with the repetitive explosions of incoming shells.

Three people were killed overnight in the city of Nikopol, according to the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, and nine others injured in the bombardment which damaged around forty buildings.

Nikopol is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) downstream from Zaporizhzhia. In the Donetsk region, 11 people were killed in the past day, including six in Bakhmut, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. Bakhmut is a key target for Russian forces as they attempt to advance east.

The governor of Russia’s Kursk region, Roman Starovoit, said on Thursday that two villages near the Ukrainian border – Tetkino and Popovo-Lezhachi – had come under Ukrainian fire. He did not immediately give details of casualties or the extent of the damage.

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Christi C. Elwood