The Russian Ministry of Defence has said that Ukrainian aircraft struck two industrial sites in the Russian-held city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine with Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles supplied by the United Kingdom.
The UK on Thursday became the first country to say it had started supplying Kyiv with long-range cruise missiles, which will allow it to hit Russian troops and supply dumps far behind the front lines as it prepares a major counteroffensive.
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British Defence Minister Ben Wallace said the missiles could be used within Ukrainian territory, implying that he had received assurances from Kyiv that they would not be used to attack targets inside Russia’s internationally accepted borders.
On Saturday, the Russian ministry said the missiles had hit a plant producing polymers and a meat-processing factory in Luhansk on Friday.
“Storm Shadow air-to-air missiles supplied to the Kyiv regime by Britain were used for the strike, contrary to London’s statements that these weapons would not be used against civilian targets,” the ministry said.
It also said Russia had downed two Ukrainian warplanes – an Su-24 and a MiG-29 – that had launched the missiles.
In its latest bulletin, the ministry also said Russian forces had gained control over another block in the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Moscow has been trying to capture for more than 10 months in an attritional artillery battle.
“The units of the Airborne Forces provided support to the assault units and pinned down the enemy on the flanks,” it said.
The ministry often uses the term “assault units” to denote the Wagner private militia, which has been spearheading the assault on Bakhmut at great cost in casualties.
EU calls for long-range weapons for Ukraine
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on Saturday for European nations to provide long-range weapons for Ukraine to help it counter Russian attacks, while accelerating arms deliveries overall.
“The Russians are bombing from far away so the Ukrainians have to have the capacity to reach … the same distance, the same range,” Borrell said after a meeting with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Stockholm.
“But we have to speed up,” he said, as Germany announced a new weapons package for Ukraine worth 2.7 billion euros ($2.95bn), including tanks, armoured vehicles and air-defence systems.
“I welcome the German effort and invite all member states to follow this example,” Borrell said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been urging Western allies to provide more advanced weapons in advance of a widely expected counter-offensive against Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.
Zelenskyy is also seeking to accelerate the process for formal talks on EU membership for Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion, launched in February 2022.