Russia has claimed it used a Kinzhal hypersonic missile to strike a large weapons depot in Ukraine’s western Ivano-Frankivsk region. It marks the first time the advanced system has been deployed since President Putin sent his troops into Ukraine, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for Russia’s defence ministry, said the “invisible” weapon had destroyed an underground warehouse storing ammunition for Ukrainian troops in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region. The alleged attack, which Mr Konashenkov told a briefing took place on Friday, used a Kinzhal – or “Dagger” – missile, which is believed to have a range of 1,250 miles. Russia also said it had also destroyed military radio and reconnaissance centres near the Ukrainian port city of Odessa using the Bastion coastal missile system. It is not known if the strikes caused any casualties. Hypersonic weapons are largely considered the next generation of arms due to the fact they can reach more than five times the speed of sound and the challenge they pose to anti-missile defence systems. The Kinzhal missiles are part of an array of weapons unveiled in 2018.
Russia likely to pursue strategy of ‘indiscriminate’ attacks
The British Defense Ministry said in its Saturday morning update that Russia had failed to achieve its original objectives so far having been “surprised by the scale and ferocity of Ukrainian Resistance”. The ministry said Russia has been forced to change its strategy, which will likely involve the “indiscriminate use of firepower resulting in increased civilian casualties, destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure, and intensify the humanitarian crisis”. The consistent frustration and failure to progress as planned or desired has forced Russia to change its approach: the Kremlin has started pursuing a war of attraction, which “is likely to include indiscriminate use of firepower.”
Russia able to do it alone – Lukashenko
Russia is able to conduct its operation in Ukraine alone, no one is asking us to intervene, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, told Japanese TV. Lukashenko then underlined that Minsk maintains its neutrality with respect to events in Ukraine, but also explains that the Belarusian side had been willing to deploy its border forces between Donbass and Russia, an initiative which was however rejected by Kiev. “I did everything to avoid the war but it wasn’t possible. Why? Because the West pushed for this war,” he said.
Zelensky tells Putin: ‘It’s time to meet’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin hold talks with him directly in his nightly address to the nation Friday. “It’s time to meet, time to speak,” Zelensky said. “I want to be heard by everyone, especially in Moscow.” He said talks that are “fair, substantial and without delays” is the only way for Russia to limit its losses in the war. Ukraine claims 14,000 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine. “The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine,” he said. “Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover.” Putin has clamped down on dissenting voices in Russia, criminalising any news about the war that goes against official state propaganda. Russia and Ukraine have been holding intermittent peace talks that haven’t made much progress. In a phone with Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, Putin said part of his requirements to end the war would require a face-to-face with Zelensky. He is expected to ask Ukraine to give up land in the eastern part of the country and to officially recognise annexed Crimea as part of Russia, among other demands. Some experts like British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News she believed Russia was using peace negotiations as a “diversion” while the military regroups.
Fighting in Mariupol complicates search for theatre survivors
Russian artillery barrages and ongoing street fighting hampered efforts to locate survivors trapped in the ruins of a theatre destroyed in Mariupol. The Russian defense ministry said it was “tightening the noose” around the city, and Ukrainian officials admitted that the situation appeared bleak after “temporarily” losing contact with Mariupol leadership. The attack on the thearer drew widespread condemnation as satellite imagery showed the words for “Children” painted outside the building in an effort to protect those seeking shelter inside it. Video shared online supposedly shows Chechen forces in the city, with Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov claiming that “one by one, the areas are cleared, and soon it will reach you”.
7 dead, 5 wounded in mortar strike east of Kyiv
Ukraine’s National Police said seven people have died and five others were wounded in a mortar strike in Makariv, east of Kyiv. The police posted on Telegram to announce that the strike occurred Friday, destroying residential and administrative buildings. Police will continue to work at the site to help residents affected by the airstrike and document the full extent of the damage.
Ukraine loses access to Azov Sea
Ukraine lost access to the Azov Sea as Russian troops converged on the southern port city of Mariupol, the key commercial port which connects to the larger Black Sea via a narrow strait. The Russian forces were still trying to storm Mariupol and the fighting was ongoing, the Ukrainian officials told the AP. It was unclear whether the Russians had taken full control of the city.
Russian cosmonauts wear Ukrainian colours
Three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station early Saturday wearing bright yellow suits trimmed in blue – the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The cosmonauts were the first new arrivals at the station since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The Associated Press reported cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev said each new crew that travels to the station gets to choose its own style of flight suit. “It became our turn to pick a colour. But in fact, we had accumulated a lot of yellow material so we needed to use it,” he said. “So that’s why we had to wear yellow.” Artemyev and fellow cosmonauts Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov embarked from Kazakhstan just before 9 pm Friday and arrived at the station just over three hours later. Already aboard the station were two Russians, four Americans and a German.