A Terminator-2 tank support fighting vehicle (front) drives during the joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises Zapad-2017 (West-2017) at the Luzhsky training ground in the Leningrad region on September 18, 2017.
Vasily Maximov | Afp | Getty Images
Ukrainian and British officials warned Saturday that Russian forces are relying on weapons able to cause mass casualties as they try to make headway in capturing eastern Ukraine and fierce, prolonged fighting depletes resources on both sides.
Russian bombers have likely been launching heavy 1960s-era anti-ship missiles in Ukraine, the U.K. Defense Ministry said. The Kh-22 missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead. When used in ground attacks with conventional warheads, they “are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and casualties,” the ministry said.
Both sides have expended large amounts of weaponry in what has become a grinding war of attrition for the eastern region of coal mines and factories known as the Donbas, placing huge strains on their resources and stockpiles.
Russia is likely using the 5.5-tonne (6.1-ton) anti-ship missiles because it is running short of more precise modern missiles, the British ministry said. It gave no details of where exactly such missiles are thought to have been deployed.
As Russia also sought to consolidate its hold over territory seized so far in the 108-day war, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “is what happens when oppressors trample the rules that protect us all.”
“It’s what happens when big powers decide that their imperial appetites matter more than the rights of their peaceful neighbors,” Austin said during a visit to Asia. “And it’s a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us would want to live in.”