KYIV, Ukraine – The British government said on Monday that the multiple-launch rocket systems it is offering to Ukraine will provide “a significant increase in capability” for the country’s efforts to resist Russia’s invasion, which weighed heavily on D-Day commemorations in northern France. .
“If the international community continues to provide support, I believe Ukraine can win” its war against Russia, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement.
The statement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments on Sunday warned the West against sending longer-range rocket systems to Ukraine, where the war was in its 103rd day.
The British government has described the M270 weapons system as a “cutting edge” military asset that can hit targets up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) away “with pinpoint accuracy”. The system is piloted by three gunners and is mounted on an armored tracked launcher.
The UK pledged last week to send the weapons. He gave no details on delivery dates.
Last week, the United States announced its intention to provide $700 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including four precision-guided medium-range rocket systems, as well as helicopters, Javelin anti-tanks, radars, tactical vehicles and more.
Washington and London hope the deliveries will help Ukraine turn the tide of the war in its eastern region of Donbass, which Russia appears intent on capturing entirely.
However, they are unlikely to have an immediate impact. 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.
The United States has stopped offering Ukraine longer-range weapons — those with a range of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) — that could fire deep into Russia and stoke tensions with Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned the West that if it supplies Ukraine with long-range rockets, Moscow will respond by taking control of larger areas of Ukraine.
Speaking at an online press conference on Monday, Lavrov said “the longer the range of weapons you provide, the farther the line from which neo-Nazis could threaten the Russian Federation.” Moscow says it is fighting neo-Nazis in Ukraine – a false claim ridiculed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust.
Ukraine’s struggle was at the forefront of comments by the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was felt by D-Day veterans who gathered in Normandy on Monday.
“The fight in Ukraine is about honoring these World War II veterans,” Army General Mark Milley said at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, overlooking Omaha Beach.
“It’s about maintaining the so-called global rules-based international order that was established by the dead who are buried here in this cemetery,” he said.
American D-Day veteran Charles Shay, 97, was at Omaha Beach to mark the 78th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 landings and pay tribute to those who fell that day.
Asked about his feelings about the war being waged on the European continent, Shay told The Associated Press that “it’s a very sad situation.”
“In 1944, I landed on these beaches and we thought we were bringing peace to the world. But that is not possible,” he added regretfully.
Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, meanwhile on Sunday called the refusal to let his plane fly in Serbia “cynical” and “unthinkable”. According to reports, Serbia’s neighbors Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro had refused to allow the plane to cross their airspace to reach Serbia.
“A sovereign state has been deprived of its right to conduct a foreign policy,” Lavrov told an online press conference.
He accused NATO allies – with whom Moscow disagrees – of engineering the flight ban, saying it revealed the main purpose of the alliance’s expansion was to try to isolate Russia.
Russia’s use of missiles in Ukraine, meanwhile, continued to hit targets, with the Russian military saying on Monday it struck a Ukrainian factory that repairs armor.
Russian fighter jets fired long-range missiles to destroy a factory on the outskirts of the town of Lozova, in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, which repaired armored vehicles, the spokesman for the Russian ministry of security said. Defense, Major General Igor Konashenkov.
Russian planes hit 73 areas of concentration of Ukrainian troops and equipment, while Russian artillery hit 431 military targets, Konashenkov said. His claims could not be independently verified.
Putin has vowed to strike deeper into the heart of Ukraine if the West sends longer-range missile systems to Kyiv. In a show of force, Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Sunday.
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.
Zelenskyy on Sunday visited command posts and frontline positions of Ukrainian troops in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which make up Donbass.
A Ukrainian regional governor said on Monday that the situation in a key eastern city had worsened for defending troops.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Monday heavy fighting continued in the town of Sievierodonetsk, which is at the epicenter of the Russian offensive.
He described the combat situation as “quite dynamic”, adding that Ukrainian forces had lost some of the gains they had made over the weekend but maintained their positions in the city’s industrial zone.
“Our defenders managed to mount a counteroffensive and liberate almost half of the city, but the situation has gotten even worse now,” Haidai told The Associated Press in written responses to questions.
“The bombardment of Sievierodonetsk has intensified, (the Russians) are destroying everything in accordance with their scorched earth tactics,” he said. The Russians “have a huge amount of equipment and personnel. They have gathered a lot of reserves,” he said. added.
Russian forces focused on capturing Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.
To the west of these towns, in the cities of Sloviansk and Bakhmut, cars and military vehicles rushed towards the city from the front line. Dozens of military doctors and paramedics worked on Sunday to evacuate Ukrainian civilians and servicemen, many of whom had been injured by artillery fire.
Western military intelligence reports indicate that Ukrainian counterattacks in Sieverodonetsk are likely dampening the operational momentum that Russian forces had previously gained by concentrating their combat units and firepower in the area.
David Keyton and Hanna Arhirova contributed to this report.
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