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Putin warns Ukraine against long-range missiles

Russia will hit targets it has so far not struck if long-range missiles are delivered to Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned.

“If they are supplied, we will draw the appropriate conclusions and use our weapons, which we have enough of, in order to strike at those objects that we have not yet struck,” Putin told Russia 1 in an interview broadcasted on Sunday.

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The Russian president noted that the shipment of US-made multiple-launch rocket systems confirmed by President Joe Biden on Tuesday is unlikely to bring anything new to Kiev’s forces. The Ukrainian military already has Soviet- and Russian-designed Grad, Smerch, and Uragan systems of the same kind, he explained.

According to the Russian president, the whole “fuss around” the additional arms deliveries to Kiev “serves only one purpose – to prolong the armed conflict as much as possible.”

For months, Kiev has been urging the US and other Western allies to ship US-designed MLRS and HIMARS multiple-launch rocket systems, which, depending on the type of rocket, can hit targets up to 500km away.

According to media reports, the White House has been reluctant to do so, fearing Moscow could interpret the shipment as a sign of further escalation.

However, in an op-ed in the New York Times published on Tuesday, President Joe Biden revealed that among other weaponry, the US will “provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.” He stressed, however, that Washington is “not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Ukrainian government had given Washington assurances that it will not use American rockets to strike targets on Russian soil.

One day later, however, Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Alexey Arestovich seemed to contradict that statement when he said the Ukrainian military will strike Russian territory if it sees fit to do so. When asked whether the restriction on the use of US-provided rockets applies to Crimea, which voted to join Russia in 2014 after the military coup in Kiev, Arestovich insisted it is still part of Ukraine, and hence a legitimate target.

“Crimea is ours. It belongs to Ukraine. And they [Russia] know it. Therefore, [the rocket] will fly to Crimea double-time, should the need arise,” he said.

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