By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Russia took aim at Western military supplies for Ukraine with airstrikes in Kyiv on Sunday that it said destroyed tanks donated from abroad, as President Vladimir Putin warned that any Western deliveries of long-range rocket systems to Ukraine would prompt Moscow to hit “objects that we haven’t yet struck.”
The cryptic threat of a military escalation from the Russian leader didn’t specify what the new targets might be, but it comes days after the United States announced plans to deliver $700 million of security assistance for Ukraine that includes four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems, helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, radars, tactical vehicles, spare parts and more.
Russian forces pounded railway facilities and other infrastructure early Sunday in Kyiv, which had previously seen weeks of eerie calm. Ukraine’s nuclear plant operator, Energoatom, said one cruise missile buzzed the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear plant, about 220 miles to the south, on its way to the capital — citing the dangers of such a near miss.
There was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine that the Russian airstrikes had destroyed tanks.
Kyiv hadn’t faced any such strikes since the April 28 visit of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. The early morning attack triggered air raid alarms and showed that Russia still had the capability and willingness to hit at Ukraine’s heart since abandoning its wider offensive across the country to instead focus its efforts in the east.
Russian Defense Ministry said high-precision, long-range air-launched missiles were used. It said the strikes on the outskirts of Kyiv destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles located in buildings of a car-repair business.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 has led to untold tens of thousands of civilian and troop deaths, driven millions from their homes, sparked vast sanctions against Putin’s government and allies, and strangled exports of critical wheat and other grains from Ukraine through Black Sea ports — limiting access to bread and other products in Africa, the Middle East and beyond.
In a television interview on Sunday, Putin lashed out at Western deliveries of weapons to Ukraine, saying they aim to prolong the conflict.
“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,” Putin said, alluding to U.S. plans to supply multiple launch rocket systems to Kyiv. He insisted such supplies were unlikely to change much for the Ukrainian government, which he said was merely making up for losses of rockets of similar range that they already had.
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.”
Elsewhere, Russian forces continued their push to take ground in eastern Ukraine, with missile and airstrikes carried out on cities and villages of the Luhansk region, with the war now past the 100-day mark.
Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said that “airstrikes by Russian Ka-52 helicopters were carried out in the areas of Girske and Myrna Dolyna, by Su-25 aircraft — on Ustynivka,” while Lysychansk was hit by a missile from the Tochka-U complex.
A total of 13 houses were damaged in Girske, and five in Lysychansk. Another airstrike was reported in the eastern city of Kramatorsk by its mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko. No one was killed in the attack, he said, but two of the city’s enterprises sustained “significant damage.”
On Sunday morning, Ukraine’s General Staff accused Russian forces of using phosphorus munitions in the village of Cherkaski Tyshky in the Kharkiv region. The claim couldn’t be independently verified.
The update also confirmed strikes on Kyiv, which occurred in the early hours of Sunday. It wasn’t immediately clear from the statement which infrastructure facilities in Kyiv were hit.
The General Staff said Russian forces continue assault operations in Sievierodonetsk, one of two key cities left to be captured in the Luhansk region of the Donbas. The Russians control the eastern part of the city, the update said, and are focusing on trying to encircle Ukrainian forces in the area and “blocking off main logistical routes.”
The U.K. military said in its daily intelligence update that Ukrainian counterattacks in Sievierodonetsk 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.