Chris Lange, FISM News
Russian forces claim to have destroyed military supplies from the West in renewed airstrikes on Kyiv, a month after withdrawing from areas surrounding Ukraine’s capital. Russia’s Defense Ministry on Sunday said strikes destroyed tanks supplied by Eastern European countries, along with other armored vehicles, the Associated Press reported. Ukraine disputed Russia’s narrative, however, saying the missiles actually hit a train repair shop where no military equipment was stored.
The renewed targeting of Kyiv came with a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. should think twice about sending longer-range rocket systems to Ukraine. The Kyiv attacks are meant to send a clear message that Russia still has the ability to hit at the heart of Ukraine, despite refocusing its military campaign in the east.
Putin’s comments were aired Sunday in a televised interview following last week’s announcement from Washington that it plans to send an additional $700 million in security assistance to Ukraine that includes precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems, as well as helicopters, more Javelin anti-tank systems, additional tactical vehicles, and more.
“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 in the interview aired on Russian media outlets. The leader dismissed the notion that the new supplies will do much to help Ukraine but warned that, if Kyiv receives longer-range rockets capable of striking deep within Russia, 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.”
Russia races to seize Donbas
Military analysts say Russia is working furiously to seize Ukraine’s eastern industrial Donbas region ahead of the arrival of U.S. weapons that could turn the tide in Ukraine’s favor. The Pentagon last week said it will take at least three weeks for U.S. weapons to reach the battlefield.
Meanwhile, Moscow accused the West of closing off communication lines by forcing Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to cancel a trip to Serbia for talks on Monday.
Serbian neighbors Bulgaria, Montenegro, and North Macedonia closed their airspace to Lavrov’s plane, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Italian television in comments reported by Russian news agencies.
“This is another closed channel of communication,” Zakharova said.
Ukraine launches counterattacks
Russian forces this weekend continued their focus on capturing Ukraine’s eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. West of those cities, in the towns of Sloviansk and Bakhmut, medics and paramedic ambulance operators scrambled to evacuate civilians and Ukrainian troops wounded by artillery shelling.
The U.K.’s military said Ukrainian counterattacks in Sieverodonetsk were “likely blunting the operational momentum Russian forces previously gained through concentrating combat units and firepower,” according to an Associated Press report. Russian forces made gains in the city last week, but Ukrainian defenders have managed to push them back in recent days.
Elsewhere, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his second public visit outside of Kyiv since the start of the war, traveling to the Zaporizhzhia region in the southeast, which is partly under Russian control. There the leader received a battle report and spent time visiting troops and refugees.
Mariupol plagued by disease outbreak caused by decomposing bodies
A government official in the Azov Sea port of Mariupol, now controlled by Moscow, said water supplies contaminated by decomposing corpses and garbage are causing dysentery and posing a threat of cholera and other diseases. Mayoral aide Petro Andriushchenko said Russian authorities controlling the city have imposed a quarantine in remarks carried by Ukraine’s Unian news agency.