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A Russian helicopter flies near a damaged residential building in the town of Popasna in the Luhansk Region of Ukraine. Alamy

Kyiv rocked by explosions overnight as Putin warns 'new targets' could be attacked

At least 11 civilians were reported killed in the Lugansk region where Severodonetsk is located.

LAST UPDATE | 5 Jun 2022

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR Putin has warned that Moscow will strike new targets if the West supplies long-range missiles to Ukraine and said new arms deliveries to Kyiv were aimed at “prolonging the conflict”.

If Kyiv is supplied with long-range missiles, “we will draw the appropriate conclusions and use our arms…. to strike targets we haven’t hit before,” Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

In extracts of an interview to be broadcast late Sunday on Rossiya-1 television, Putin did not specify exactly which targets could be hit nor the exact range of the missiles to which Moscow would react.

But his comments came just days after the United States announced it would supply Ukraine with Himars multiple launch rocket systems, a mobile unit that can simultaneously launch multiple precision-guided missiles up to 80 kilometres away.

june-2-2022-russia-moscow-region-novo-ogaryovo-russian-president-vladimir-putin-holds-a-meeting-on-railway-construction-development-via-video-link-from-his-novo-ogaryovo-residence Alamy Alamy

US President Joe Biden has nevertheless ruled out supplying Ukraine with systems that could reach as far as Russia, despite Kyiv’s repeated demands for such weapons.

Putin said that there was “nothing new” in the weapons supplied by Washington to Kyiv, and that Ukrainian forces had at their disposal weapons “similar to Soviet- or Russian-made systems”.

“From what we know and understand today, they are systems using missiles with range of 45-70 kilometres”.

Putin said that the sole aim of the West supplying arms to Ukraine was “to prolong the conflict for as long as possible”.

marines-with-romeo-battery-5th-battalion-11th-marine-regiment-regimental-combat-team-7-fire-rockets-from-a-m142-high-mobility-artillery-rocket-system-himars-on-camp-leatherneck-helmand-province File photo a HIMARS. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said the battle for Ukraine’s eastern city of Severodonetsk was being waged street by street, while explosions rocked the capital Kyiv early this morning.

“Several explosions in Darnytsky and Dniprovsky districts of the city. Services are extinguishing,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging platform shortly after air raid warnings sounded in Kyiv and several other cities.

“There are currently no dead from missile strikes on infrastructure. One wounded was hospitalised. The services are still working in the affected areas.”

‘Extremely difficult’

“The situation in Severodonetsk, where street fighting continues, remains extremely difficult,” Zelensky said in his daily address yesterday evening.

Severodonetsk is the largest city still in Ukrainian hands in the Lugansk region of the Donbas, where Russian forces have been gradually advancing in recent weeks after retreating or being repelled from other areas, including around the capital Kyiv.

Russia’s army claimed some Ukrainian military units were withdrawing from Severodonetsk but Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said Ukrainian forces were fighting to retake the city.

Earlier, Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said the Russians had captured most of Severodonetsk, but that Ukraine’s forces were pushing them back.

“The Russian army, as we understand, is throwing all its power, all its reserves in this direction,” said Gaiday.

 Moscow claims to have destroyed two Ukrainian command centres and six ammunition depots in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis renewed calls today for “real negotiations” to end what he called the “increasingly dangerous escalation” of the conflict in Ukraine.

“As the fury of destruction and death rages and clashes flare, fuelling an escalation that is increasingly dangerous for all, I renew my appeal to the leaders of nations: Please do not lead humanity to destruction,” the pontiff said from the window of the apostolic palace in St Peter’s Square.

More than a hundred days since the start of the war, the pope called for “real negotiations for a ceasefire and a solution” to end it.

On Saturday, the 85-year-old pope confirmed his desire to visit Ukraine, but said he wanted to wait for “the right moment”.

© – AFP 2022

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