The Day – Putin warns West against sending rocket systems to Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new warning to the West against sending longer-range rocket systems to Ukraine came as his forces claimed to have destroyed Western military supplies during their first such airstrikes on the Ukrainian capital in more than a month.

The attack showed that Russia still had the ability and the will to strike at the heart of Ukraine, despite refocusing its efforts to seize territory to the east.

Putin’s comments, in a television interview broadcast on Sunday, came days after the United States announced plans to provide $700 million in security aid to Ukraine, including four rocket systems to precision-guided medium range, as well as helicopters, Javelin anti-tank systems, radars, tactical vehicles and more.

“All this fuss over 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, Putin 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.

Military analysts say Russia hopes to invade the industrial Donbass region in eastern Ukraine before the arrival of any US weapons that could turn the tide. The Pentagon said last week that it would take at least three weeks to bring US weapons to the battlefield. Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian government since 2014 in Donbass.

Moscow also accused the West of shutting down lines of communication by forcing Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s plane to cancel a trip to Serbia for talks on Monday.

Serbia’s neighbors have closed their airspace to Lavrov’s plane, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Italian television in comments reported by Russian news agencies. Earlier in the day, Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti said Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro would not allow Lavrov’s plane to pass.

“It’s another closed communication channel,” Zakharova said.

Missiles that hit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Sunday destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles, the Russian Defense Ministry said on the app. Telegram.

Ukraine, however, said the missiles hit a train repair shop. Ukraine’s railway authority led journalists on a guided tour of the repair plant in eastern Kyiv which it said was hit by four missiles. The authority said no military equipment was stored there, and Associated Press reporters saw no remains of it in the destroyed building of the facility.

“There were no tanks, and you can just witness that.” said Serhiy Leshchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office.

Yet a government adviser told national television that military infrastructure was also targeted. AP reporters saw a burning building in an area near the destroyed wagon factory. Two residents of this neighborhood said the warehouse-like structure that was billowing smoke was part of a tank repair facility. Police blocking access to the site told an AP reporter that military authorities had banned the taking of images there.

The Russian Defense Ministry also said air-launched precision missiles were used to destroy workshops in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, including in Druzhkivka, which repaired Ukrainian military equipment. damaged.

And 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.

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.

Russian forces remained focused on capturing the eastern Ukrainian towns of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. To the west of these towns, in the towns of Sloviansk and Bakhmut, cars and military vehicles were seen heading towards the front line. Dozens of military doctors and paramedics worked to evacuate Ukrainian civilians and servicemen, many of whom had been injured 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 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. “.

In other developments:

– In the port of Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov, which Russia claimed to have captured in May after a month-long siege, an aide to the mayor said water supplies contaminated with corpses and garbage rotting 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. His report could not be independently confirmed.

— Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia, 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.

— Spanish daily El Pais reported that Spain plans to supply anti-aircraft missiles and up to 40 Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks to Ukraine. The Spanish Ministry of Defense did not comment on the report.

– And far 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 game in Cardiff. Back home, Ukrainians gathered in bars to watch the game.

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Associated Press reporters David Keyton and Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv contributed to this report.

Christi C. Elwood