UK boosts Ukraine support with high-tech missile system

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Kyiv:  The British government said Monday that the multiple-launch rocket systems it is offering to Ukraine will bring “a significant boost in capability” for the country’s efforts to resist Russia’s invasion.

“If the international community continues its support, I believe Ukraine can win” its war against Russia, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement.

The statement came after comments Sunday by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who warned the West against sending longer-range rocket systems to Ukraine.

The British government described the M270 weapon system as a “cutting edge” military asset which can strike targets up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) away “with pinpoint accuracy.” The United Kingdom pledged last week to send the weapons. It gave no details about delivery dates.

The U.S. last week announced plans to deliver USD 700 million of security assistance for Ukraine, including four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems, as well as helicopters, Javelin anti-tank systems, radars, tactical vehicles and more.

Washington and London hope the deliveries will help Ukraine turn the tide of the war in its eastern Donbas region which Russia appears minded to capture entirely.

They are unlikely to have an immediate impact, however. The Pentagon said last week that it will take at least three weeks to get the U.S. weapons onto the battlefield. Russia-backed separatists have fought the Ukrainian government since 2014 in the Donbas.

The U.S. has stopped short of offering Ukraine longer-range weapons that could fire deep into Russia and could inflame tensions with Moscow.

Russia’s own use of missiles in Ukraine, meanwhile, continued to pummel targets, with the Russian military claiming Monday it had struck a Ukrainian factory that was repairing armor.

Russian warplanes fired long-range missiles to destroy a plant on the edge of the town of Lozova in the northeastern Kharkiv region that was repairing armored vehicles, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

Russian aircraft hit 73 areas of concentration of Ukrainian troops and equipment, while the Russian artillery struck 431 military targets, Konashenkov said. His claims couldn’t be independently verified.

Putin vowed to strike deeper into the heart of Ukraine if the West sends Kyiv longer-range missile systems. In a show of force, Russian missiles struck Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, on Sunday.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces fired five X-22 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea toward Kyiv, and one was destroyed by air defenses. Four other missiles hit “infrastructure facilities,” but Ukraine said there were no casualties.

Before Sunday’s early morning attack, Kyiv hadn’t faced any such Russian airstrikes since the April 28 visit of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday visited command posts and the frontline positions of Ukrainian troops in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which make up the Donbas.

Ukraine’s struggle on the 103rd day of war was heartfelt for veterans of D-Day who gathered in northern France on Monday.

American D-Day veteran Charles Shay, 97, was at Omaha Beach in Normandy morning to mark the 78th anniversary of June 6, 1944 landings and pay tribute to those who fell that day.

Asked about his feelings regarding the war being waged on the European continent, Shay told The Associated Press it “is a very sad situation.”

“In 1944 I landed on these beaches and we thought we’d bring peace to the world. But it’s not possible,” he added with regret.

A Ukrainian regional governor said Monday that the situation in a key eastern town has worsened for defending troops.

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Monday that fierce fighting was continuing in the city of Sievierodonetsk, which is at the epicenter of the Russian offensive.

He described the combat situation as “quite dynamic,” adding that the Ukrainian forces had lost some of the gains they made over the weekend but are holding their positions in the city’s industrial zone.

The Russians have continued intensive bombardment of Sievierodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk, Haidai said.

Russian forces have been focusing in the capture of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.

West of those cities, in the towns of Sloviansk and Bakhmut, cars and military vehicles have been speeding into town from the direction of the front line. Dozens of military doctors and paramedic ambulances worked Sunday to evacuate civilians and Ukrainian servicemen, many of whom had been hurt by artillery shelling.

Western military intelligence reports say Ukrainian counterattacks in Sieverodonetsk are probably halting the operational momentum Russian forces previously gained by concentrating their combat units and firepower in the area.

On Monday, Serbia confirmed that a planned visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the Balkan country won’t take place after reports that Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro refused to allow his plane to fly over its airspace to reach Serbia.

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