Russian President Vladimir Putin assured Wednesday that the long-range missiles delivered by the United States to Ukraine would only "prolong the agony" of this country, kyiv hoping on its side to that these weapons will help him to accelerate his difficult counter-offensive.
On Tuesday, Washington announced that it had supplied, in the greatest secrecy, ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) with a range of 165 km to the Ukrainian army so that it could shell Russian rear bases.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his first visit to NATO headquarters since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, in Brussels, October 11, 2023 © AFP – SIMON WOHLFAHRT < p>Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Tuesday the successful use of these weapons for the first time. Its special forces, for their part, claimed responsibility on the same day for destructive strikes on Russian airfields in occupied territory.
Vladimir Putin, for his part, judged that the delivery of these surface-to-surface missiles, which Kiev had been demanding for months, would not change anything during the war, once again ensuring that the Ukrainian military had failed in their counterattack. -offensive on Russian defenses.
“The main thing is that (these missiles) will not radically change things on the line of contact, it is impossible”, affirmed the Russian president during a press conference in Beijing, at the end of his visit to China.
“For Ukraine, there will be nothing good. The agony will be prolonged”, he added, considering that Washington was therefore making “an error”.
– Escalation expected in Avdiïvka –
According to him, the supply of ATACMS to Ukraine shows “that the United States is increasingly drawn into this conflict.”
Mr. Zelensky also discussed on Wednesday with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron ways to “further strengthen” Ukraine’s military capabilities as winter approaches.
For his part, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Western deliveries of missiles, F-16 planes next year and armored vehicles to Kiev were leading Russia to “strengthen its western borders.”
Ukraine: the positions of the military forces as of October 17 © AFP – Sabrina BLANCHARD, Sophie RAMIS, Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA
Ukraine, which had forced Moscow into humiliating retreats in 2022, launched a counter-offensive in June to liberate the approximately 20% of its territory which is under Russian control and which Moscow claims annexation.
It believes that its troops are advancing but that progress is slow because the West is hesitant to deliver the weapons it needs.
In addition, the Russian army has launched its own offensives in the direction of Kupiansk (north-east) and, since October 10, in the direction of Avdiïvka (east).
Ukraine: Avdiïvka, target of a large-scale Russian offensive © AFP – Sylvie HUSSON, Valentina BRESCHI, Paz PIZARRO
Russian soldiers seek to surround this industrial city, at the cost of heavy losses.
According to its mayor, Vitali Barabach, if the situation is “calmer” in recent days, it is because Moscow is preparing a new attack after the one that was stopped by the Ukrainians.
“This is not the end of this story (…), the (Ukrainian) resistance has stabilized the situation at the moment” but, “in the days to come, we will “We expect an escalation,” he added.
Erected around a large coking plant, Avdiïvka is located 13 km north of Donetsk, the “capital”, under Russian control, of the eponymous region of which Mr. Putin claimed annexation.
– “They were sleeping there” –
At the same time, Russia continues its nightly bombings of Ukrainian urban areas. Kiev expects this campaign to worsen like last winter, when the Russian army shelled energy infrastructure.
During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, strikes on the city of Zaporizhia (south) and the Dnipropetrovsk region (center-east) left at least five dead.
Ukrainian rescuers in the rubble of a residential building destroyed by Russian missiles, in Zaporizhzhia, southeastern Ukraine, October 18, 2023 © AFP – Maryna Moiseyenko < p>In Zaporizhia, three floors of a residential building were devastated by an S-300 missile, which caused the death of at least four people. “Rescue operations continue,” assured late in the afternoon the head of the military administration of this city, Anatoly Kourtiev.
Olga Nenets, 67, lives in the building touch. She has little hope that the missing will be found alive.
“The dead are probably the neighbors of the 4th, a young couple. Their room was facing the avenue, they slept there. And we know nothing of the neighbors of the 5th, they have disappeared, it is said but they were in their apartment, here is their car,” she says, looking at the gutted building.
For its part, Kiev has also increased attacks far behind enemy lines in recent weeks, in Russian territory.
Russia thus claimed on Wednesday evening to have shot down two Ukrainian missiles in flight which were heading towards Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed in 2014, the debris of which fell in a deserted area without causing any damage. victims.
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