By Jack Phillips
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday warned Russia will strike new targets if the United States supplies long-range missiles to Ukraine.
Giving new weapons to Kyiv only aims to “drag out the armed conflict for as long as possible,” Putin told state-run media. After long-range missiles are sent to Ukraine, Moscow will draw the “appropriate conclusions” and strike facilities that it hasn’t targeted, Putin said.
“If they are supplied, we will draw appropriate conclusions from this and use our own weapons, of which we have enough, in order to strike at those facilities we are not targeting yet,” the Russian president also said in response to statements issued by the White House about supplying multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to Ukraine, according to a translation.
Several days ago, President Joe Biden confirmed the United States would send more advanced rocket systems to Ukraine after Kyiv’s request.
A “new package will arm them with new capabilities and advanced weaponry, including HIMARS with battlefield munitions, to defend their territory from Russian advances,” said Biden in a White House-released statement on June 1. “We will continue to lead the world in providing historic assistance to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom.” HIMARS refers to High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems produced in the United States that can hit targets up to 300 miles away, depending on the type of rocket.
Ukraine has been seeking Multiple Rocket Launch Systems such as the M270 and M142 HIMARS to strike troops and weapons stockpiles at the Russian forces’ rear.
A senior White House official told reporters from several news outlets on May 31 that the United States will send “munitions that will enable the Ukrainians to more precisely strike targets on the battlefield from a greater distance,” while claiming that Ukraine gave assurances that its forces will not strike targets inside Russia.
On Sunday, meanwhile, Russian forces struck Kyiv, the capital, for the first time in several weeks, while Ukrainian officials said a counter-attack on the main battlefield in the east had retaken half of the city of Sievierodonetsk.
Ukraine said Russia had carried out the strike using long-range air-launched missiles fired from heavy bombers as far away as the Caspian Sea, a weapon far more valuable than the tanks Russia claimed to have hit.
“The Kremlin resorts to new insidious attacks. Today’s missile strikes at Kyiv have only one goal—kill as many as possible,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.
During the same interview released over the weekend, Putin also said that Russian anti-aircraft troops have taken down numerous Ukrainian weapons and are “cracking them like nuts.”
Underscoring the number of weapons that are being supplied to Ukraine, Spain’s government authorized sending anti-aircraft missiles to Kyiv, government officials told the El Pais newspaper on Sunday. Spain will also provide training in how to use the new weapons, according to those officials, who said it will take place in Lativa.
Reuters contributed to this report.