Russia firing missiles stripped of nuclear weapons, UK says

UK assessment came as Ukraine announces a humanitarian mission delivering grain to countries with food shortages

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said power was restored to millions of people in Ukraine after Russian attacks. AFP
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Russia is firing obsolete cruise missiles stripped of their nuclear warheads at Ukraine because their stockpiles are depleted, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

The improvisation revealed a level of desperation within a Russian military struggling and “unlikely to achieve reliable effects”, an intelligence bulletin from the MoD on Saturday claimed.

Its assessment came as Ukraine announced a humanitarian mission to deliver grain to countries where food is in short supply.

The Grain from Ukraine initiative, in partnership with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), aims to ensure the safe transport of grain and agricultural products from Ukrainian ports to Africa.

“I look forward to Ukraine continuing to play a role in crucial global supply chains that will provide relief to starving nations around the world,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

The MoD cited pictures purportedly of a downed AS-15 cruise missile, which according to Nato analysts were designed in the late 1970s as a nuclear delivery system.

Nuclear warheads had probably been substituted for ballast, with the Kremlin's hope likely that the missiles will distract Ukrainian air defences, the MoD said.

“Although such an inert system will still produce some damage through the missile's kinetic energy and any unspent fuel, it is unlikely to achieve reliable effects against intended targets,” a statement said.

“Whatever Russia's intent, this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia's stock of long-range missiles.”

Announcing the Grain from Ukraine on Saturday, the WFP said a ship called the Nord Vind set sail from the Black Sea port of Odesa towards Ethiopia on November 15 carrying 27,000 tonnes of food wheat.

On Saturday, a second ship will begin loading in Chornomorsk port carrying another 30,000 tons of wheat to Ethiopia.

Another three ships, will carry 82,000 tons of food wheat for countries on the verge of starvation — Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and Yemen, the WFP said.

Ukrainian authorities were trying to restore electricity and water services on Saturday after Russian military strikes damaged infrastructure.

Mr Zelenskyy said power was restored to millions since blackouts swept the country days earlier.

Electricity was also restored in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, a senior presidential aide said on Saturday.

“First we are supplying power to the city's critical infrastructure and then immediately to household consumers,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential administration, wrote on the Telegram messaging app

There are growing fears that a major health crisis will hit the Ukrainian people as snow and sub-zero temperatures couple with heating outages.

Visiting Kyiv this week, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly pledged “hands-on” support to help Ukraine through the winter as he committed an extra £3 million to help rebuild infrastructure.

Mr Cleverly said: “As winter sets in, Russia is continuing to try to break Ukrainian resolve through its brutal attacks on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure. Russia will fail. The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine.”

Updated: November 26, 2022, 1:59 PM
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