The United Kingdom announced it will provide Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine for its defense against Russia’s invasion. Russia has denied that Ukrainian forces have made a breakthrough in the bloody battle for the city of Bakhmut while the United Kingdom has become the first country to supply Ukraine with long-range cruise missiles. Ukraine has for months requested long-range missiles from its Western allies but has only received shorter-range weapons as supporters feared more advanced weapons would be used to strike targets inside Russian territory and further escalate the conflict.
The UK’s Defence Minister Ben Wallace said on Thursday that Storm Shadow Cruise Missiles which have a range of more than 250km (150 miles) compared with the United States provided HIMARS range of some 80km (50 miles) – will be sent to Ukraine.
“We will simply not stand by as Russia kills civilians,” Wallace told members of parliament when announcing that Storm Shadow missiles are being provided to Kyiv.
Wallace said the cruise missiles are being sent for use within Ukrainian territory, implying he had received assurances from Kyiv that they will not be used to hit targets inside Russia.
The Kremlin previously said that the UK’s provision of such missiles would require ”an adequate response from our military”.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said in the statement that Moscow’s forces had repulsed several Ukrainian attacks in the course of the day, adding that the ongoing battle occurred near Malynivka in the eastern Donetsk region and involved both air power and artillery. Russian forces were “continuing to liberate the western parts” of Bakhmut city, it added.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said the reactions of Prigozhin and Russia’s Defense Ministry to Ukraine’s movements in Bakhmut “reflect increased panic in the Russian information space” about the long-awaited Ukrainian counter-offense.
Ukraine strikes back in Bakhmut:
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the financier of the Wagner Group of mercenaries who have spearheaded the offensive in the city, appeared to confirm the Russian retreat.
On May 9, he said a Russian unit abandoned its position near Bakhmut because of the “stupidity” of commanders.
“Today, everything is being done so that the front line crumbles. Today, one of the defence ministry’s units fled one of our flanks, abandoning their positions. Everyone fled,” said Prigozhin.
It was a rare setback for Russian forces, which on May 5 had advanced towards Khromove. Two days later they again advanced in an area 15km (9 miles) north of Bakhmut.
Russian forces mounted dozens of assaults in the city, and by Moscow’s account, advanced by a few city blocks. Ukrainian defenders are occupying a shrinking perch in the western suburbs.
Bakhmut is the bloodiest battle of the war for both sides. During the nine months it has lasted, it has cost Russia as many as 100,000 casualties, Ukraine’s eastern forces spokesman Serhiy Cherevaty estimated – half of its estimated overall losses.
Russia’s top generals appeared to waver in their determination to capture the city, worried about defending an 800km (497-mile) front against an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive. Ukraine said it has trained and equipped 12 mechanized battalions.
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“Russian forces have largely ceased offensive operations throughout the theatre, likely signifying a transition to the defensive. It would be an operationally sound decision for the Russian Ministry Of Defense to begin withholding and stockpiling ammunition and supplies in order to prepare for any Ukrainian counteroffensive actions,” said the Institute.
Ukraine’s Military Media Center said Russian forces were stockpiling weapons in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. “The enemy has focused its main efforts on actively preparing to repel a possible counteroffensive,” it said. “The aggressor continues to actively transfer from the Russian Federation … additional weapons.”
On May 6, leader of Chechen forces Ramzan Kadyrov asked the Russian defence ministry to relieve his men of duty at various points along the front, so they could take over Wagner’s positions in Bakhmut.
The US approves first transfer of seized Russian funds:
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland has authorized the first transfer of funds seized from Russian oligarchs to aid Ukraine. In a statement on Wednesday, Garland said the money seized from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev will go towards the war-torn country, which Russia invaded on February 24, 2022.
Last year, the US Department of Justice charged Malofeyev with violating sanctions imposed on Russia. Prosecutors said he provided financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea, a peninsula the country annexed from Ukraine in 2014. At that time, Garland also announced “the seizure of millions of dollars from an account at a US financial institution traceable to Malofeyev’s sanctions violations”.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war,” Garland said at the time. Among the assets seized by Washington was a fleet of superyachts, including a 106m (348-foot) vessel owned by Suleiman Kerimov valued at over $300m, which had been docked in Fiji.
US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, called on Congress last year to make it easier to transfer seized oligarch assets to Ukraine.
The data is taken from different media outlets and edited by the team of the Youth Diplomacy Forum.