(CN) — The war in Ukraine is poised to intensify further after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that Moscow will hit back hard if Ukraine begins using advanced long-range missiles provided by the West.
Undeterred, the United Kingdom on Monday joined the United States in moving to send new missile launchers to Kyiv. Last week, President Joe Biden said the U.S. will provide Ukraine with four advanced rocket launchers to help Kyiv fight back against Russia and put it in a better negotiating position.
Fighting continued to grind on for the 103rd day on Monday with reports that Russian forces were stepping up their bombardment of Ukrainian positions in the most hotly contested areas of eastern Ukraine. Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist forces continued their slow advances.
There have been reports of Ukrainian counteroffensives in areas near Kharkiv, Kherson and inside Sievierodonetsk, where street battles are taking place, but the success of these attacks remained limited.
On the diplomatic front, there were no signs of negotiations between the warring sides to agree to a ceasefire. Indeed, the fighting seems set to carry on for much longer.
There were talks between Turkey, Russia and Ukraine to open the Black Sea for grain shipments. The world is in danger of seeing an explosion of famine in the poorer parts of the globe due to rising fuel and commodity prices and the blocking of Ukraine’s sea ports.
On Sunday, Putin said in an interview on Russia-1 TV that Russia would strike new targets if the West delivers long-range missiles to Ukraine.
“If they are supplied we will draw appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, which we have plenty of, in order to strike at those objects that we have not yet struck,” he said.
He said that the West’s steady shipment of arms to Ukraine is prolonging the war.
“In general, all this fuss around additional deliveries of weapons in my opinion has only one goal: to drag out the armed conflict as much as possible,” he said.
Last week, U.S. officials said Ukraine will receive four rocket launchers known as HIMARS, the acronym for the high mobility artillery rocket system. They fire powerful satellite-guided rockets that can strike targets up to 48 miles away. Ukraine doesn’t have weapons that can strike that far away in use now.
The new weapons are part of a new $700 million arms package for Ukraine. Congress approved spending $40 billion in weapons and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the U.K. will send M270 launch systems to Ukraine. These systems can hit targets that are 50 miles away.
Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau is based in the European Union.
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