Kyiv devastates Russian air bases with ‘new US missiles’

Russian forces in Ukraine are believed to have suffered some of their biggest losses of the war, in air strikes possibly carried out with newly delivered, American long-range missiles, as President Putin arrived in China for talks with President Xi.

Kyiv said it had killed or injured dozens of Russian military personnel and destroyed nine helicopters in missile strikes on occupied areas of Ukraine. Loud explosions were heard overnight at Russian air bases in Luhansk, a Kremlin stronghold in eastern Ukraine that has been occupied since 2014, and Berdyansk, a port city on the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian armed forces said the strikes had destroyed runways, an ammunition warehouse and other equipment.

A Russian serviceman stands guard at a private Berdyansk foundry in Berdyansk, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. Picture: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP


The attacks were described by Fighterbomber, a Telegram channel with close links to the Russian air force, as possibly the most damaging since the start of the war. It said the air bases had been targeted by US-supplied ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles, which have a range of up to 102 miles.

President Biden told President Zelensky last month that Washington would hand over a small number to Ukraine, American media reports said. Zelensky confirmed the deliveries last night (Tuesday), adding that the missiles “have proven themselves.” Ukraine had been pleading for supplies of MGM-140 ATACMS missiles to allow it to hit deep into Russian-occupied territory, targeting supply lines, ammunition stores, and control and command locations.

US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walk through the colonnade to the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2023. Picture: Jim Watson/AFP

As Russian forces reeled from the latest attack, Putin flew into Beijing to take part in a forum to mark the tenth anniversary of China’s Belt and Road initiative, a project to expand Beijing’s global infrastructure and energy networks. He will meet Xi today (Wednesday), the Kremlin said. Their talks are expected to be dominated by Israel’s air strikes on Gaza, which both have condemned.

Russia is increasingly dependent on trade with China to counter western sanctions, with a third of Moscow’s oil exports going to Beijing.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping shaking hands during a welcoming ceremony at the Third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on October 17, 2023. Picture: Sergei Savostyanov/AFP

READ MORE: Kim may already be sending weaponry to Russia | Xi, Putin to deepen ‘no limits’ partnership | Ukraine fires off long-sought US missile | How the Israel-Hamas war is tilting global power balance

Trade between the countries has grown 30 per cent this year. “[Xi] calls me his friend, and I call him my friend, too,” Putin told Chinese state television before his trip.

Despite Ukraine’s air strikes, analysts say it is unlikely that its counteroffensive will achieve big successes before winter. Russian forces are on the move in eastern Ukraine, attempting to capture Avdiivka, a strategically and symbolically important town.

South Korea's Hyunmoo-2A (L) and the U.S. Eighth Army's ATACMS missiles are fired simultaneously during a joint missile exercise on the east coast on July 5, 2017. Picture: AAP Image/Yonhap News Agency

Satellite images suggest that Russia has started receiving munitions from North Korea. The images, published by the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank, appear to show that hundreds of containers have been shipped from a North Korean port to a Russian ammunition depot about 125 miles from Ukraine’s border.

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