The UK will send a “cutting edge” rocket system to Ukraine to help troops fight back Russia’s advance in the embattled east of the country, in defiance of a threat from Vladimir Putin.
The M270 multiple-launch rocket system is now heading to the battlefield, despite Mr Putin’s warning that the provision of longer-range missiles would see Russia strike harder.
It can hit targets up to 50 miles (80km) away with “pinpoint accuracy”, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The commitment came as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the cities of Lysychansk and Soledar, after earlier visiting the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region.
Lysychansk is in Luhansk and Soledar in Donetsk – together the eastern regions make up the Donbas, which is now Russia’s focus of the war and the scene of fierce fighting.
Mr Zelenskyy shared videos from the trip and said: “I am proud of everybody I met, everyone I shook hands with, everyone with whom I connected with and had expressed my support.”
In Zaporizhzhia, he visited a medical facility and spoke to people forced from their homes due to the war, including people from Mariupol – now under Russian control after a punishing siege.
Ukrainian troops to come to UK
The MoD said its latest move had been coordinated with America’s recent decision to donate a variant of the same system, and that it followed requests for longer-range precision weapons to attack Russian heavy artillery.
Ukrainian troops will come to the UK to learn how to use the weapon, which is manned by a crew of three and mounted on a tracked armoured launcher.
Britain has so far donated £750m of military gear, including more than 5,000 anti-tank missiles and 120 armoured vehicles.
‘New insidious attacks’
Meanwhile, Kyiv’s five week-period of respite was shattered early on Sunday when two districts in the outskirts, Darnytski and Dniprovski, were attacked by missiles.
Moscow claimed it had destroyed tanks supplied by Western allies, while Ukraine said the attack had hit a rail carriage repair works. No deaths were immediately reported, but one person was taken to hospital.
The capital had not seen a similar attack since the end of April.
“The Kremlin resorts to new insidious attacks. Today’s missile strikes at Kyiv have only one goal – kill as many as possible,” tweeted presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
In the east, the heart of the Russian offensive, cities, and villages in the Luhansk region were again by missile and air strikes.
Regional governor Serhiy Haidai said helicopters had attacked Girske and Myrna Dolyna, while Ustynivka was targeted by a Su-25 jet.
Other attacks were reported in Lysychansk – where Mr Zelenskyy visited – and in the eastern city of Kramatorsk in northern Donetsk.
However, Ukraine’s military said it had repelled seven attacks across the Donbas, shooting down a helicopter and destroying four tanks.
A counterattack in Severodonetsk also recaptured a swathe of territory and put Ukraine in control of half of the city, according to Mr Haidai.
The city has in recent weeks become a key battleground in Moscow’s bid to seize the Donbas.
The MoD said on Sunday that counterattacks there had probably blunted the “operational momentum” Russia had gained.
Another senior commander has also reportedly been killed.
Russian state journalist Alexander Sladkov said on the Telegram app that Major General Roman Kutuzov had died in eastern Ukraine, adding to a number of Kremlin military leaders who have apparently been killed in the war.
The Kremlin has not commented on the report.