Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russia on Sunday targeted Western military supplies for Ukraine and launched airstrikes on Kyiv that claimed to have destroyed tanks donated from abroad, as Vladimir Putin warned that Western supplies of longer-range missile systems were headed for Moscow an attack would cause “objects we haven’t hit yet.”
The Russian leader’s cryptic threat of military escalation gave no indication of what the new targets might be. It came days after the United States announced plans to provide $700 million in security assistance to Ukraine, which includes four medium-range precision-guided missile systems, as well as helicopters, Javelin anti-tank systems, radars, tactical vehicles and more.
Military analysts say Russia hopes to overrun Ukraine’s embattled eastern industrial Donbass region, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine’s government since 2014, before US weapons arrive that could turn the tide. The Pentagon said last week it would take at least three weeks for US weapons to get to the battlefield.
Ukraine said the missiles aimed at the capital hit a train repair shop. Elsewhere, Russian airstrikes in the eastern town of Druzhkivka destroyed buildings and left at least one person dead, a Ukrainian official said. Local residents described waking up to the sound of rockets hitting the ground and debris and glass falling around them.
“It was like in a horror movie,” said Svitlana Romashkina.
The Russian Defense Ministry said air-launched precision missiles were used to destroy workshops in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, including in Druzhkivka, repairing damaged Ukrainian military equipment.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces fired five X-22 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea at Kyiv and one was destroyed by air defenses. Four more rockets hit “infrastructure facilities” but Ukraine said there were no casualties.
The operator of the Energoatom nuclear power plant said a cruise missile was buzzing near the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant, 350 kilometers (220 miles) south, and appeared to be on its way to Kyiv. It warned of the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe if even a rocket fragment hit the plant.
The missiles that hit Kyiv destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on the Telegram app.
The Ukrainian railway authority then took reporters to a tour of a rail vehicle repair facility in eastern Kiev, which it says was hit by four rockets. The agency said no military equipment was stored there, and reporters from the Associated Press saw no remains of it in the facility’s destroyed building.
“There were no tanks and you can just witness that,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office.
However, a government adviser said on national television that military infrastructure was also under attack. AP reporters saw a burning building near the destroyed wagon plant. Two residents in that district said the smoking warehouse was part of a tank repair facility. Police blocking access to the compound told an AP reporter that military authorities had banned taking pictures there.
In a TV interview aired on Sunday, Putin lashed out at Western arms supplies to Ukraine and said they intend to prolong the war.
“All this excitement about additional arms shipments has, in my opinion, only one aim: to delay the armed conflict as much as possible,” Putin said. He insisted that such deliveries were unlikely to change the Ukrainian government’s military situation, which he believed would merely offset the loss of similar missiles.
If Kyiv gets long-range missiles, he added, Moscow “will draw appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, which we have in abundance, to hit the objects we haven’t hit yet.”
The US has stopped offering Ukraine longer-range weapons that could fire deep into Russia. But the four medium-range, high-mobility artillery missile systems in the Security Pack include wheeled launchers that allow troops to hit a target and then quickly flee—which could be useful against Russian artillery on the battlefield.
The Spanish daily El Pais reported on Sunday that Spain is planning to deliver anti-aircraft missiles and up to 40 Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks to Ukraine. The Spanish Ministry of Defense did not comment on the report.
Prior to Sunday’s early-morning attack, Kyiv had not been subjected to such a Russian airstrike since UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ April 28 visit. The attack triggered air alert and showed that Russia still had the capability and readiness to hit Ukraine in the heart, even as it refocused its efforts to seize Ukrainian territory to the east.
In recent days, Russian forces have focused on capturing Ukraine’s eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. On Sunday they continued their push with rocket and air strikes on towns and villages in Donbass.
In the cities of Sloviansk and Bakhmut, cars and military vehicles were seen rushing into the city from the direction of the front line. Dozens of military doctors and ambulances were working to evacuate civilians and Ukrainian soldiers, and a hospital was busy treating the injured, many of whom were injured by artillery fire.
The British military said in its daily intelligence update that Ukrainian counterattacks in Sieverodonetsk “are likely to weaken the operational momentum of Russian forces previously gained through concentration of combat units and firepower”. Earlier, Russian forces had made a series of advances into the city, but Ukrainian fighters have been pushing back in recent days.
The statement also said Russia’s military relies in part on reserve forces of the Lugansk separatists.
“These troops are poorly equipped and trained and do not have heavy equipment compared to regular Russian units,” the intelligence update said, adding that the move “suggests a desire to limit casualties of regular Russian forces.” .
Both sides of the conflict are engaged in information warfare, particularly on television, along with military attacks. Russian news agency Tass reported on Sunday that Ukrainian troops disabled the television station in Donetsk, where a transmission tower collapsed. Ukrainian authorities did not immediately confirm the attack.
In the Sea of Azov port city of Mariupol, which Russia reportedly captured in May after a brutal months-long siege, an aide to the mayor said the water supply contaminated by decaying corpses and garbage is causing dysentery and poses a threat of cholera and other diseases.
In a comment by Ukraine’s Unian news agency, Petro Andriushchenko said the Russian authorities controlling the city had imposed a quarantine. He did not describe what action the Russian authorities had taken, and his account could not be independently verified.
World Health Organization officials last month warned of the threat of cholera and other infectious diseases in Mariupol.
Also on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to the southeastern Zaporizhia region, which is partly under Russian control. In only his second public visit outside of the Kiev region since the beginning of the war, he received a combat report, thanked the troops and met with refugees.
Far from the battlefield, the Ukraine internationals missed out on World Cup qualifiers by beating Wales 1-0 in an emotionally charged game in Cardiff. At home, some Ukrainians gathered in bars to watch the game.
Associated Press journalists David Keyton and Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine