Russia strikes train carrying Western weapons

    The attack took place in Russian annexed Donetsk People’s Republic, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

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    Russian forces have struck a freight train carrying military equipment supplied to Ukrainian forces by Kiev’s Western backers, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow has said.

    The combined attack involved aircraft, missiles and artillery, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

    “A train with Western weapons and military equipment was hit in the area of the settlement of Udachnoye in Donetsk People’s Republic,” it added.

    Udachnoye, translated as ‘lucky’ in English, is located in the western part of the republic.

    More strikes ahead of larger offensive

    Personnel and equipment from the 67th Ukrainian mechanized brigade were also struck at a railway loading station in the area of Balakleya in Ukraine’s Kharkov Region, the ministry said.

    Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have also destroyed five US-made M777 howitzers, two American M102 105mm lightweight towed howitzers, a US-designed AN/TPQ-50 counter-fire radar, a British FH-70 howitzer, and other hardware, according to the statement.

    The flow of Western aid to Ukraine decreased drastically in recent months as Republicans in the US Congress resisted attempts by President Joe Biden to push through another $61 billion in military assistance for Kiev. The standoff, which had dragged on since the autumn, was resolved earlier this week when lawmakers passed the legislation and Biden signed off on it.

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the delays in aid from the US and the EU had led to “consequences” on the battlefield. Ukrainian forces have been “outgunned, allowing Russia to push forward on the front line,” he said. Stoltenberg argued, however, that “it is not too late for Ukraine to prevail because more support is on the way.”

    Russia has repeatedly warned that foreign weapons deliveries to Kiev will not prevent Moscow from achieving its military goals, but will merely prolong the fighting and could increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.

    According to officials in Moscow, the provision of arms, intelligence-sharing, and training of Ukrainian troops means that Western nations have already become de facto parties to the conflict.

    Didn’t come as a surprise

    Ukraine warned Friday that Moscow was ramping up attacks on railways in a bid to disrupt military supplies ahead of a fresh Russian offensive while Kyiv waits for new US weapon deliveries.

    Kyiv fears Russia is seeking to press its advantage on the battlefield ahead of symbolic May 9 Victory Day celebrations, as both sides continued to launch deadly cross-border strikes.

    A Ukrainian security source told AFP that Russia wanted to damage Ukrainian railway infrastructure to “paralyse deliveries and movement of military cargo” as Moscow prepares to advance.

    “These are standard steps ahead of an offensive,” the source added.

    Russian forces have a firepower and manpower advantage at the front lines, and Kyiv has warned that fighting will become increasingly difficult in the coming weeks.

    President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said he believed the Kremlin wants its army to capture the strategic heights of Chasiv Yar, a village in the eastern Donetsk region, before May 9, when Russia celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II.


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