KIEV (AP) – Russia took aim at Western military supplies for Ukraine’s government with early Sunday airstrikes in Kiev that it said destroyed tanks donated from abroad.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that any Western deliveries of long-range rocket systems to Ukraine would prompt Moscow to hit “objects that we haven’t yet struck.”
The cryptic threat of a military escalation from the Russian leader didn’t specify what the new targets might be, but it comes days after the United States announced plans to deliver $700 million of assistance for Ukraine. Those weapons include four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems, helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, radars, tactical vehicles and more.
In a posting on the Telegram app, the Russian Defense Ministry said high-precision, long-range air-launched missiles were used. It said the strikes on the outskirts of Kiev destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles located in buildings of a train car repair business.
In a television interview that aired Sunday, Putin lashed out at Western deliveries of weapons to Ukraine, saying they aim to prolong the conflict.
“All this fuss around additional deliveries of weapons, in my opinion, has only one goal: To drag out the armed conflict as much as possible,” Putin said. He said such supplies were unlikely to change the military situation much for Ukraine’s government, which he added was merely making up for losses of similar rockets that they already had.
If Kiev gets longer-range rockets, he noted, Moscow will “draw appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, which we have plenty of, in order to strike at those objects that we haven’t yet struck.”
The U.S. has stopped short of offering Ukraine longer-range weapons that could fire deep into Russia. The four medium-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems included in the security package include launchers on wheels that allow troops to strike a target and then quickly move away — which could be useful against Russian artillery on the battlefield.
Meanwhile, as the cost of food soars around the world, the United Nations warns that the war in Ukraine risks aggravating inflating prices and causing a full-on global food crisis.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, a tool to measure prices of the most globally traded food staples, dipped in May for the second consecutive month after reaching a record in March, the UN agency said on Friday.
Despite the decline, the May index showed prices 22.8 percent higher compared with a year earlier, pushed higher by concerns over the conflict in Ukraine – one of the world’s major bread baskets.
Luca Russo, the FAO’s lead analyst for food crises, told Al Jazeera that as the war in Ukraine sends energy prices higher, the cost of delivering aid has increased as well. The risk of a severe food crisis is particularly felt in the developing world, he warned.