Russia fires five-and-a-half ton Cold War-era missiles designed to destroy aircraft carriers at Ukrainian forces in the Donbas after running out of precision rockets, MoD says
- Putin’s forces are getting desperately low on modern weaponry, the MoD stated
- Antiquated, inaccurate Cold War-era missiles pose a greater threat to civilians
- ‘Intense street fighting’ continues in east Ukraine as Russia seeks to tighten grip
- Ukrainian army also accused Russia of deploying flamethrowers on grain fields
- It came as British soldier Jordan Gatley was killed fighting on the frontline
Russia is relying on Cold War-era missiles with ‘severe’ risks to civilians as Putin’s forces have run out of modern weapons, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) claimed.
The government’s daily intelligence update on Saturday also offered new details of ‘intense street fighting’ in eastern Ukraine as Russian soldiers were pushed back.
Antiquated Kh-22 missiles from the 1960s are extra dangerous as they ‘are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and causalities’, the ministry wrote.
Russia is likely using the heavy anti-ship missiles because it is running low on more precise modern missiles, it stated.
A battle-scarred grain processing facility in port Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, pictured today
Highway to hell: gutted cars sit along a ruined street close to Severodonetsk, Luhansk region
It gave no details of where exactly such missiles are have been deployed. They have a range of around 1,000km (600 miles).
The MoD added: ‘[They] were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead.
‘When employed in a ground attack role with a conventional warhead they are highly inaccurate and can therefore cause significant collateral damage and civilian casualties.’
Ukraine decommissioned 423 Cold War-era missiles before 2006 after signing a disarmament treaty.
The ministry concluded: ‘Russia is likely resorting to such inefficient weapon systems because it is running short of more precise modern missiles, while Ukrainian air defences still deter its tactical aircraft from conducting strikes across much of the country.’
There has been no confirmation from Ukrainian authorities on the use of the 5.5-tonne missiles.
Heavy fighting continues in eastern cities Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, with flamethrowers allegedly used to target homes and wheat fields.
Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram last night that ‘many houses burned down’ as a result of Russian rampages in nearby Vrubivka.
Russian forces are also expected to launch a new offensive in Sloviansk, Donetsk.
Putin’s army has pivoted to the east of Ukraine since its offensive on major cities Kyiv and Kharkiv failed.
Piles of burning grain of and destroyed infrastructure as seen in Sivers’k, Donbas last month
Photos taken in Crimea last month show Russian-flagged carrier ships docking and loading next to huge silos, raising concerns about massive thefts of Ukrainian grain supplies
Russia is hoping to shore up the territories it already control and continue its stranglehold on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken estimated there are 20million tonnes of grain sitting in locked silos outside trade centre Odesa.
There is more waiting on stuck ships blocked from leaving the Black Sea port.
Mr Blinken said on Friday: ‘President Putin is stopping food from being shipped and aggressively using his propaganda machine to deflect or distort responsibility, because he hopes it’ll get the world to give in to him and end the sanctions.
‘In other words, quite simply put, it’s blackmail.
‘The Kremlin needs to realise that it is exporting starvation and suffering well beyond Ukrainian quarters, with countries in Africa that are experiencing an outsized share of the pain.’
Jordan Gatley becomes the second British fighter to have been killed in Ukraine after volunteer soldier 36-year-old Scott Sibley (pictured) was killed fighting Russian troops in April
A man looks on at charity supplies in a Kharkiv church during the Holy Trinity mass today
EU president Ursula von der Leyen met with President Zelensky in Kyiv yesterday.
She was pictured arriving at the capital’s train station wearing a flak jacket, later appearing at a press conference with Mr Zelensky.
Ms Von der Leyen said her discussions with Zelensky today ‘will enable us to finalise our assessment by the end of next week’ on whether to recommend Ukraine as a candidate for membership.
Mr Zelensky has been pressing for rapid admission into the European Union as a way of reducing Ukraine’s geopolitical vulnerability, which was brutally exposed by Russia’s February 24 invasion.
But a decision in favour of Ukraine’s admission would only be a preliminary step in a long process.
All 27 EU governments would have to agree to grant Ukraine candidate status, after which there would be extensive talks on the reforms required before Kyiv could be considered for membership.
A woman strolls past piles of debris in Sloviansk, eastern Ukraine, which is preparing for battle
Ukraine is expected to provide a list of weapons and defensive equipment it requires at a meeting with NATO in Brussels on June 15, following US President Joe Biden’s promise of advanced rocket systems and additional munitions last week.
Germany also said it would offer its most advanced air defence systems to help protect Ukrainian skies.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace made a personal visit to Kyiv on Friday to speak with Ukrainian officials about their requests for additional weaponry.
A report published on Friday by the Institute of War Studies said that the use of artillery and long-range weapons could prove the path to victory in Ukraine’s east.
‘As Ukrainian forces use the last of their stocks of Soviet-era weapon systems and munitions, they will require consistent Western support to transition to new supply chains of ammunition and key artillery systems,’ the report said.
‘Effective artillery will be increasingly decisive in the largely static fighting in eastern Ukraine.’
President Zelensky (right) spoke alongside EU leader Ursula von der Leyen (left) yesterday
In the south, a man died in Odessa after coming into contact with an explosive object while swimming at a beach with his wife and son, the regional Ukrainian command said. Visiting beaches there is currently banned due to the risks of mines.
For residents in nearby Mykolaiv, every day brings a brush with death.
Igor Karputov, 31, recalled how his neighbourhood was hit last week, shaking his apartment, and how he helped a bleeding man to an ambulance.
‘Then I went to another place which had been hit, where emergency services were already taking care of someone,’ he told AFP.
‘But they were dead. And the one I had helped died in an ambulance.’
Mykolaiv regional governor Vitaliy Kim stressed the urgent need for international military assistance.
‘Russia’s army is more powerful, they have a lot of artillery and ammo… and we are out of ammo,’ he said Saturday.
On Sunday, the southern command said the Ukrainian Air Force had destroyed ammunition depots and equipment in three air strikes in the last 24 hours, without naming their locations.
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