Putin orders his warships to run away after Ukraine handed longer-range missiles

Vladimir Putin under pressure to announce victory in Ukraine

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The movement of Vladimir Putin’s vessels to the port city of Novorossiysk in southern Russia comes after Ukrainian stocks of longer-range missile systems were boosted by Western allies. Ukrainian media reports Serhiy Bratchuk, adviser to the head of Odesa’s Regional Military Administration, reporting news of the ships’ eastward movement via Telegram.

Media outlet Ukrinform reports the official as saying: “According to the information of our Navy, the enemy has redeployed a significant number of warships from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk.

“Russian ships were earlier deployed in missile-proof areas in the zone covered by coastal air defence systems, as close as possible to the coast.”

He claimed Russia still has control of navigation in the Sea of Azov in order to illegally export goods seized in the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions.

Kyiv recently received supplies of long-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) which it hopes will help turn the tide on Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine argues it needs the HIMARS so it can better match the range of Russian rocket systems used to pound its positions in the Donbas region.

Western deliveries of long-range arms are beginning to help Ukraine on the battlefield with Kyiv citing a string of strikes carried out on 30 Russian logistics and ammunitions hubs, using several multiple launch rocket systems.

Ukraine’s defence ministry says the strikes are causing havoc with Russian supply lines and have significantly reduced Russia’s offensive capability.

Ukraine’s southern Operational Command reported it had destroyed two Russian Pantsir missile systems, three strategic communication systems, one radar station, two ammunition depots as well as 11 armoured and military vehicles in the Kherson region on Sunday.

A Ukrainian military official said last weekend Russia is preparing for the next stage of its offensive in Ukraine.

Moscow has said its forces will step up military operations in “all operational areas”.

Vadym Skibitskyi, a Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman, said on Saturday: “It is not only missile strikes from the air and sea.

“We can see shelling along the entire line of contact, along the entire front line. There is an active use of tactical aviation and attack helicopters.

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“Clearly, preparations are now underway for the next stage of the offensive.”

The Ukrainian military said Russia appeared to be regrouping units for an offensive towards Sloviansk, a symbolically important city held by Ukraine in the eastern region of Donetsk.

Britain’s defence ministry said on Sunday Russia was also reinforcing defences across areas it occupies in southern Ukraine after pressure from Ukrainian forces and pledges from Ukraine’s leaders to drive Russian troops out.

Kyiv says at least 40 people have been killed in Russian shelling of urban areas since Thursday.

British military intelligence said on Monday Russia has used private military contractor Wagner to reinforce its frontline forces.

The Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update Wagner is lowering its recruitment standards and hiring convicts as well as previously blacklisted individuals in a move which could potentially impact Russian military effectiveness.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sacked the head of the country’s domestic security service and state prosecutor, citing hundreds of cases of alleged treason and collaboration with Russia.

Mr Zelensky said over 60 officials from the SBU security service and prosecutor’s office were working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied territories.

He added that 651 treason and collaboration cases had been opened against law enforcement officials.

The sackings on Sunday of Ivan Bakanov, head of the security service, and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova – who led efforts to prosecute Russian war crimes – and the sheer number of treason cases reveal the huge challenge of Russian infiltration.

Mr Zelensky said: “Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state… pose very serious questions to the relevant leaders. Each of these questions will receive a proper answer.”

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