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Ukrainian and British officials said on Saturday that Russian forces are relying on weapons able to cause mass casualties as they try to capture eastern Ukraine and fierce, prolonged fighting depletes resources on both sides.
Russian bombers are likely to have been launching 1960s-era anti-ship missiles in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defence said.
The Kh-22 missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead. When used in ground attacks with conventional warheads, they “are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and casualties”, the ministry said.
Both sides have expended large amounts of weaponry in what has become a war of attrition for the eastern region of coal mines and factories known as the Donbas, placing huge strains on their resources and stockpiles.
The MoD said Russia is likely to be using the 5.5-tonne anti-ship missiles because it is running short of more precise modern missiles. It gave no details of where such missiles were thought to have been used.
As Russia also sought to consolidate its hold over territory seized so far in the war, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “is what happens when oppressors trample the rules that protect us all”.
“It’s what happens when big powers decide that their imperial appetites matter more than the rights of their peaceful neighbours,” Mr Austin said during a visit to Asia.
“And it’s a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us would want to live in.”