Russia has destroyed a Ukrainian missile factory after the sinking of its Black Sea flagship, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his allies could shorten the war by supplying the weapons he requested.
The Vizar factory near Kyiv international airport was badly damaged during the night’s strikes, an AFP journalist saw on Friday.
Russia said it used long-range sea-launched missiles to hit the plant that Ukraine’s state-owned arms manufacturer says produced Neptune cruise missiles — the projectiles, Kyiv and Washington said, were used to launch the Moskva River – to sink a warship.
“There were five goals. My employee was in the office and was knocked off his feet by the blast,” Andrei Sizov, the 47-year-old owner of a nearby wood workshop, told AFP.
“They make us pay for the destruction of the Moscow River,” he said.
An official Pentagon briefing reporter said the ship was hit by two Neptunes – contradicting Russia’s claim that the ship lost balance in rough seas while being towed into port after ammunition exploded.
The Moskva had spearheaded the Russian naval effort in the seven-week conflict, and the fate of her crew of more than 500 was uncertain.
The Pentagon official said survivors were seen being recovered by other Russian ships, but Ukrainian authorities said bad weather made rescue operations impossible.
The Russian Black Sea fleet has blockaded the besieged port city of Mariupol, where Russian officials say they are in full control, though Ukrainian fighters are still holed up in the city’s fortress-like steelworks.
In his late-night address, Zelenskyy again appealed to allies to send more firepower to step up defense efforts.
“You can make the war much shorter,” he said. “The more and the sooner we get all the requested weapons, the stronger our position will be and the sooner peace will come.”
The head of the Ukrainian army said something similar in a phone call to US Chief of Staff Mark Milley, the military said on Saturday.
The United States earlier this week pledged a new $800 million military aid package to Ukraine, including helicopters, howitzers and armored personnel carriers, and on Friday the German government said it plans to donate more than $1 billion (January 1). $.1 billion) in aid to release as well.
US media reported that Russia this week filed a formal complaint with Washington over its support of Kyiv.
In the diplomatic note, Moscow warned the United States and NATO against sending the “most sensitive” weapons, saying such shipments would “fuel” the situation and could have “unpredictable consequences,” the Washington Post reported.
Zelenskyy warned Friday that Russia may use nuclear weapons out of desperation if its invasion falters, echoing recent comments from CIA Director William Burns.
“They could do it, I mean they can,” Zelenskyy told CNN. “For them, human life is nothing.”
The attack on the Vizar factory was the first major Russian attack near the Ukrainian capital in more than two weeks.
Russian forces began retreating from around Kyiv last month as they redeployed to focus on the east of the country, but the city remains vulnerable to missiles.
Kyiv regional governor Oleksandr Pavliuk said there were at least two more Russian attacks on the city on Friday, adding civilians contemplating a return should “wait for calmer times”.
Indeed, the Russian Defense Ministry has warned that it would target Kyiv “in response to terrorist attacks or sabotage committed by the nationalist Kiev regime on Russian territory.”
For now, Russia’s military focus appears to be on conquering the eastern Donbass region, where Russian-backed separatists control Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts.
This would allow Moscow to create a southern corridor to the occupied Crimea peninsula, and Ukrainian authorities have urged people in the region to move quickly west ahead of a full-scale Russian offensive.
The United Nations World Food Program has called for access to be provided for those who cannot get out.
“It’s one thing when people suffer the ravages of war. It’s another matter when they’re starving,” WFP Director David Beasley said in a statement.
Ahead of the expected Russian advance, towns and cities in the east have come under non-stop shelling, residents say.
On Friday, AFP witnessed the aftermath of several strikes in Kharkiv’s industrial zone, which authorities said killed 10 and injured 35.
The charred remains of three rockets were visible and around a dozen football-sized craters were spotted in the area, which AFP saw on a brief visit.
A 38-year-old man was killed when shrapnel struck his home while he was smoking by the window.
“It all started, the glass fell down and I saw him lying in a pool of blood,” his mother said. “I told him beforehand that we should go. He said we should stay.”
For its part, Russia claimed Friday that Ukraine was preparing a missile attack on its own refugees at a train station in the city of Lozova, in the Kharkiv region.
The allegations echo Russia’s widely dismissed claim that Kyiv was responsible for an April 18 rocket attack that killed scores at another train station.
Moscow has been accused of widespread war crimes by Ukraine and its allies, and international experts have already arrived in the country to investigate.
A team of French experts has been working for several days in the city of Bucha, which has become synonymous with alleged Russian atrocities.
Local authorities say hundreds have been killed there, and on Friday the region’s police chief said 95 percent died from gunshot wounds.
In addition to military aid, Zelenskyy also called for financial support in his speech late on Friday.
“The sooner the democratic world realizes that the oil embargo on Russia and the complete blockade of its banking sector are necessary steps towards peace, the sooner the war will end,” he said.
Last week, European countries announced increased efforts to wean themselves off Russian gas, and Germany on Friday committed nearly three billion euros ($3.2 billion) to purchasing floating liquefied natural gas import terminals.
But Berlin does not think it is realistic to be able to do without Russian gas before mid-2024.
The war in Ukraine is also having a profound impact on the security considerations of European countries, with Finland and Sweden considering joining NATO.
Moscow, which invaded Ukraine in part because of deepening ties between Kyiv and NATO, warned Friday of the consequences if it joins the US-led defense alliance.
“You will automatically find yourself on the NATO front,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Unlike Sweden, Finland borders Russia, from which it declared its independence in 1917 after 150 years of Russian rule.
https://www.ibtimes.com/russia-hits-kyiv-missile-factory-after-flagship-sunk-3476033?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution Russia hits missile factory in Kyiv after flagship sinks