Putin’s officials blame British Storm Shadow missiles for devastating long-distance Ukrainian strike on Russian-held Mariupol
- Britain delivered the Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine earlier this month
- Russian-occupied sector of Donetsk reported two missile strikes on Friday
The Kremlin has blamed Britain’s Storm Shadow missiles for a devastating long-distance attack on war-torn Mariupol as Ukraine stages a fightback against its Russian occupiers.
Ukraine’s once fiercely defended city, now in the Russian-held sector of Donetsk, reported two missile strikes on Friday, where a monthslong siege early in the war left much of the city in ruins.
Two successive strikes hit the besieged city, one of them allegedly hitting the Azovstal steel works where Ukraine forces once battled to fend off Russian attack.
Kremlin state news agency Tass cited an unnamed official as saying the missiles were long-range Storm Shadows, which Britain delivered to Ukraine this month.
Britain delivered the Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine earlier this month. The long-range missiles mean Ukraine would be able to strike deep into eastern Russian-held territory.
Two strikes hit the city’s industrial zone, said Russian pro-war Rybar Telegram channel with 1.1 million followers.
Ukraine has not yet taken responsibility for the strike, or said it had used the Storm Shadow missiles.
The missiles, jointly developed by the UK and France, has a firing range of more than 155 miles (250km). This would mean Kyiv would be able to strike deep into Russian-held territory in eastern Ukraine where the fiercest battles are ongoing.
The supply of the Storm Shadow missiles by Britain was announced earlier this month by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and was welcomed by Ukraine.
The missiles, which cost about £2.2million, will allow Ukraine to hit Russian troops and logistics hubs deep behind the front line in a major blow to Vladimir Putin.
Britain had received assurances from the Ukrainian government that these missiles would be used only within Ukrainian sovereign territory and not inside Russia, multiple senior Western officials said.
Following the strikes, Kremlin-appointed head of Mariupol Oleg Morgun told residents to ‘remain calm and trust only official sources of information’.
RT claimed that Russian air defences had targeted the missiles in the city scene of the notorious Siege of Mariupol between 24 February and 20 May last year, when more than 10,000 are feared to have died.
RIA Novosti cited officials in the pro-Putin Donetsk People’s Republic alleging that the incoming strikes were from British Storm Shadow missiles.
Another port on the Sea of Azov – Berdiansk – was today hit for the second day in succession in another suspected long range missile strike by Ukraine.
The Storm Shadow, also known as SCALP, is an air-to-ground missile that can hit fixed or stationary targets.
Length: 16ft 9in
Range: 350 miles
Both are strategically important as access points for Putin’s forces to Crimea, annexed in 2014.
Meanwhile, Russian foreign ministry official Maria Zakharova pointed at Britain over incursions by anti-Putin partisans inside Russian territory close to Ukraine – and claimed Moscow could sever diplomatic relations with London.
‘We do not rule out that the English participated in the planning, organisation and support of terrorist attacks carried out by the Kyiv regime on the territory of Russia, including the provision of intelligence information,’ she said.
‘As has been repeatedly emphasised, the Russian side reserves the right to take appropriate response measures, where and when deemed necessary.
‘All responsibility for the consequences of London’s destructive activity rests entirely with the authors and perpetrators of these reckless acts.’
Ending diplomatic relations was an ‘extreme measure that should not be ruled out when taking into account the totality of factors’, said Zakharova, spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.