Moscow accuses US of direct role in Ukraine missile attacks

The Pentagon denied that Russia had destroyed six US-made HIMARS missile systems



Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

By Reuters

Published: Wed 3 Aug 2022, 7:31 AM

Russia has accused the United States of direct involvement in the Ukraine war, as the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to world markets since the beginning of the war is due to be inspected in Turkey on Wednesday.

Russia's defence ministry, headed by an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said that comments made by Vadym Skibitsky— Ukraine's deputy head of military intelligence— to Britain's Telegraph newspaper showed that Washington was entangled in the conflict, despite assertions that it was limiting its role to arms supplies.

Skibitsky told the paper that there were consultations between US and Ukrainian intelligence officials before strikes, and Washington had an effective veto on intended targets, but that US officials were not providing direct targeting information.

"All this undeniably proves that Washington, contrary to White House and Pentagon claims, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine," the Russian defence ministry said, in a statement on Tuesday.

"It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all Kyiv-approved rocket attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure in populated areas of Donbas and other regions, which have resulted in mass deaths of civilians."

There was no immediate reaction from the White House or Pentagon to the ministry's assertions.

The Pentagon did deny, however, Moscow's claims that Russia had destroyed six US-made HIMARS missile systems since the start of the Ukraine war. Russia regularly claims it has hit HIMARS, but has yet to show proof.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of carrying out devastating missile attacks on civilian targets, on an almost daily basis. However, both sides equally deny deliberately targeting civilians.

Donbas: 'Just hell'

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that despite arms supplies from the West, his country's forces could not overcome Russian advantages in heavy guns and manpower yet.

"This is very much felt in combat, especially in the Donbas... It is just hell there. Words cannot describe it."

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Donbas, Ukraine's traditional industrial heartland in the east, has seen some of the war's heaviest fighting.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24, in what it called a "special military operation". Kyiv and the West have condemned it as an unprovoked war of aggression.

At a UN conference on Tuesday, Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director of the department for non-proliferation and arms control of the Russian foreign ministry, refuted all allegations of "unprovoked aggression". He also added that Moscow was convinced a nuclear war "must never be fought".

Russian diplomat Alexander Trofimov told the United Nations that Moscow would only use nuclear weapons in response to weapons of mass destruction or a conventional weapons attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state.

"None of these two hypothetical scenarios is relevant to the situation in Ukraine," said Trofimov, a senior diplomat in the non-proliferation and arms control department of Russia's foreign ministry.

Safe passage

The vessel, the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, was at the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to world markets, at around 6pm GMT on Tuesday, about 36 hours after leaving the Ukrainian port of Odessa. It was loaded with 26,527 tonnes of corn.

A delegation from the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul is expected to inspect the ship at 7am GMT on Wednesday, Turkey's Defence Ministry said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that there were about 27 ships in the three Ukrainian ports, covered by the export deal, that were ready to go. These exports are intended to help ease a global food crisis.

Known as Europe's breadbasket, Ukraine hopes to export 20 million tonnes of grain held in silos, and 40 million tonnes from the harvest now under way, initially from Odessa and nearby Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk.

Russia has called the Razoni's departure "very positive" news. It has denied responsibility for the food crisis, however, by blaming Western sanctions for slowing exports.


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