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An 80-tonne shipment of US anti-tank missiles has arrived in Ukraine – just the latest delivery of high-tech weapons aimed at inflicting maximum death and destruction on Putin’s forces if he decides to invade.
A plane loaded with 300 Javelin missiles worth some $50million landed in capital Kiev late Tuesday, the third part of a $200million shipment of American military aid that is being sent to help its ally.
The shipment also contained grenade launchers, ammunition and other non-lethal weapons systems, and comes in addition to other anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons already supplied by the UK, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Javelins are American-made missiles that use infrared technology to lock on to targets, rising high into the air before slamming down – making them especially deadly against tanks because their armour is thinnest on top, though Javelins can also be used to blow up buildings.
In addition to the Javelins, Ukraine has been given American Stinger missiles which use similar technology to take out aircraft and helicopters, as well as British-made NLAWs – another kind of anti-tank rocket.
While such weapons are unlikely to tip any conflict decisively in Ukraine’s favour, they are designed to inflict punishing losses on Putin’s forces to make any invasion as costly and bloody for Moscow as possible.
Russia has massed some 127,000 troops along with tanks and artillery on Ukraine’s border, issuing a list of security demands that has prompted a flurry of high-level diplomatic talks in an attempt to head off an all-out war.
- Biden suggested Putin could be personally targeted by sanctions, prompting an angry response from the Kremlin which said it would destroy America’s relations with Russia
- NATO said it has almost completed a written response to Russia’s security demands which is due to be delivered this week, raising hopes of further security talks
- Diplomats from Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine met in Paris today for so-called ‘Normandy talks’ aimed at ending the war with Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east
- UK foreign secretary Liz Truss echoed warnings that Putin could be personally hit with sanctions, and urged Ukraine’s allies to send more military support
- Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned Moscow is ready to quickly take ‘retaliatory measures’ if its security demands aren’t met, warning that it will not wait forever for a response
- Putin stressed the importance of ties between Russia’s energy industry and Italy as he personally spoke with Italian business leaders in a video-conference
An American shipment of 300 anti-tank Javelin missiles worth $50million landed in Kiev overnight, the third batch of a $200million military aid package designed to bring death and destruction to Russia’s forces if Putin invades
Ukrainian ground crews unload part of the military shipment, which also included grenade launchers and other hardware. It will now be distributed to troops on the frontline, as they face off against 127,000 Russian troops and tanks
The Javelins come in addition to previous shipments of American Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, which are designed to shoot down planes and helicopters, as well as British-made NLAWs which are another kind of anti-tank weapon
American Javelin missiles are unloaded from an American transport plane in Kiev overnight, designed to inflict punishing losses on Putin’s force if he decides to invade
Javelin anti-tank missiles designed to inflict death on Putin’s forces
The FGM-148 Javelin is a US-made missile and launcher that has seen active service in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
The weapon can either be carried into battle by troops, or else mounted on vehicles and fixed defensive positions. They are primarily designed to attack tanks, though can also be used to destroy buildings.
Replacing the wire-guided M47 Dragon, Javelins are described as ‘fire-and-forget’ weapons because they use infrared systems to guide them to their targets.
Dragon missiles required troops to keep their crosshairs trained on the target while the missile was in flight, exposing them to enemy fire.
When used against tanks, Javelins are designed to be fired in top-attack mode – meaning the missile soars high into the air before slamming down on the target.
Pictured: The FGM-148 Javelin, an infrared guided missile that slams down on its target for maximum damage
This makes them particularly deadly because a tank’s armour is generally thinnest on the top.
In conventional-fire mode, the missiles can be used to blow up buildings or aerial targets – such as helicopters.
Javelins, which cost $175,000 each without taking into account the launcher, weigh up to 50lbs, and are capable of blasting through 75cm of armour.
They can reach a maximum altitude of 490ft when fired in top-attack mode, and have a range of up to three miles when fired in conventional mode.
Javelins use a ‘soft fire’ system meaning the missile is ejected from the tube by a small charge, before firing up its main rockets.
This means it can be fired from inside a closed space, and also makes the launch site harder to locate for enemy forces.
The weapon was developed in the 1990s and first came into use in 1996.
Diplomats from Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine are meeting in Paris today for talks in the so-called ‘Normandy format’, which was originally aimed at ending the war between Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels who have been fighting in the east since 2014.
Talks got underway this morning with a press conference due in the afternoon, and while little is expected in the way of a breakthrough it is hoped the discussions can buy some extra time so a compromise to be found.
Russia is demanding that Ukraine be banned from ever joining NATO and that troops are withdrawn from former Soviet states. The alliance has described those as non-starters, but are hoping Moscow can be talked down into accepting limited concessions.
In the meantime, Russia has continued to move troops around border zones and rattle its sabres – with more soldiers and fighter jets deployed to Belarus today.
Moscow says paratrooper units have been deployed – joining artillery forces and marines that have already been stationed there, ostensibly for joint military drills to be held next month.
The Russian defence ministry added that Sukhoi-35 fighter jets are also being moved. The build-up of forces in Belarus is particularly threatening to Ukraine, because it puts them within easy striking distance of Kiev.
Separately, Russian artillery forces in the southern Rostov region that borders Ukraine were set to carry out live-fire drills as part of a combat readiness inspection of the Southern Military District.
In the far north, Russian warships entered the Barents Sea to practice protecting a major shipping lane in the Arctic, the Northern Fleet said. Moscow announced sweeping naval exercises last week.
The US and its European allies have promised swift and severe punishment for Russia in the event that Ukraine is attacked, including unprecedented sanctions targeting its economy.
Joe Biden has even suggested that Vladimir Putin could be personally targeted with financial penalties, putting him on a slim list of despots and demagogues – including the likes of Bashar al Assad, Muammar Gaddafi and Nicolas Maduro – who have been hit in the past.
The Kremlin has responded by saying such sanctions would have almost no effect on Russia or the situation in Ukraine, but would be hugely damaging to relations between the two world superpowers.
‘Politically, it’s not painful, it’s destructive,’ Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
‘US congressmen and senators who are not quite familiar with this topic are speaking about freezing the assets of representatives of Russia’s leadership,’ Peskov added, pointing out that high-ranking Russian officials are barred from holding assets abroad and accusing the politicians of lacking ‘expert knowledge’.
Ukraine is also continuing to downplay the immediate risk of any invasion, with foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba saying the Kremlin has not massed enough troops for a wide-scale attack and what troops it has brought are not yet battle-ready.
Kuleba said Wednesday that while the concentration of Russian troops near Ukraine poses a threat, ‘their number is now insufficient for a large-scale offensive.’
‘They are still missing some key military elements and systems to mount a big, full-scale offensive,’ Kuleba told reporters.
As others have, he noted that causing alarm could be an end in itself. Russia, he said, hopes to destabilize Ukraine by ‘spreading panic, raising pressure on Ukraine’s financial system and launching cyberattacks.’
‘President Putin would be happy to see that plan succeed so that he doesn’t even need to turn to military force to put Ukraine in a vulnerable position,’ he said.
His comments were latest from Ukrainian officials who have sought to reassure their citizens.
Speaking late Tuesday in the second televised speech to the nation in as many days, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine was ‘strong enough to keep everything under control and derail any attempts at destabilization.’
A Pentagon spokesman said the delivery would also include ‘anti-armour systems, grenade launchers, munitions, and non-lethal equipment essential to Ukraine’s front line defenders’
The US-made FGM-148 Javelin missile uses infrared guidance to track its target and has been used in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria
So far there have been three shipments of military equipment to Ukraine, although the country’s Defence Minister confirmed he was expecting at least a fourth. Pictured: Senior Airman Cameron Manson inspects cargo netting onboard a plane at Dover Air Force Base
‘Javelins in Kyiv! A new cargo of security aid – launchers & missiles – with a total weight of about 80 tons,’ Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted
According to the US Embassy in Ukraine, the shipment included 300 Javelin anti-tank missiles. Pictured: A Ukrainian serviceman rides atop of an APC with Javelin anti-tank missiles during a military parade in Kiev in 2018
Vladimir Putin speaks via video-link with Italian business leaders, warning them of the importance of Russia to the country’s energy sector amid fears he could choke European supplies if an invasion goes ahead
UK urges allies to send more weapons to Ukraine
British foreign secretary Liz Truss has urged Ukraine’s allies to send more military support to Ukraine to help the country fend off the threat of Russian invasion.
Ms Truss spoke as she announced she will travel to the country next week ‘to offer more support to the Ukrainians’ in a bold move which will be seen as the UK stepping up its backing for Kiev.
The trip will inevitably reignite comparisons between Ms Truss and former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
Ms Truss memorably channelled Mrs Thatcher in November last year when she posed for photographs while riding in a tank as she issued an early warning to Vladimir Putin not to launch an incursion into Ukraine.
The Foreign Secretary today said the UK has not ruled out hitting Mr Putin with personal economic sanctions if he opts to invade.
Meanwhile, NATO says it is close to completing its written proposals for Moscow after Russia issued a raft of security demands, and should deliver them this week, alliance diplomats said Wednesday.
‘Many of the Russian demands are unacceptable or unrealistic, but the response identifies a number of issues on which it is possible to work on their concerns,’ a Western diplomat told AFP.
‘The question is whether this is what the Russians want.’
Moscow blindsided the West by publishing two draft treaties for the United States and NATO in December that would see Washington’s influence rolled back in eastern Europe.
The demands were issued as tensions soared after Moscow massed some 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine in a move the West warns could be the prelude to a large-scale invasion.
The Kremlin wants NATO to guarantee pro-Western Kyiv will never join the military alliance and commit to pulling back forces from its eastern European flank.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance is willing to listen to Russian ‘concerns’. But he insists NATO will not compromise on its ‘core principles’ – including the right of its partners to chose their own path.
He has instead laid out a list of areas that the alliance is willing to discuss with Moscow, including arms control, disarmament, transparency on military activities, and risk-reduction mechanisms.
Stoltenberg told CNN Tuesday that NATO would deliver its proposals to the Kremlin this week ‘in parallel’ with a separate response being drafted by Washington.
Russia has said it is waiting to see those written responses before deciding whether to proceed with more talks after meetings with US and NATO failed to make a breakthrough.
Joe Biden has suggested that Putin could be personally targeted for sanctions in the event of an attack on Ukraine, something the Kremlin said would ‘destroy’ relations between the two
A member of the Ukrainian armed forces drives an armoured vehicle through an undislcosed location in the Luhansk region, close to where government forces are fighting Russian-backed rebel groups
A Russian-backed rebel soldier walks through a trench close to the frontlines where a war with the Ukrainian government has been going on since 2014
A Russian-backed rebel soldier mans a machine-gun nest in the Luhansk region close to the border, where fighting has been ongoing since the 2014 invasion of Crimea
Russia has been massing forces on Ukraine’s border for months, sparking fears that an invasion is imminent – and is now sabre-rattling across Europe including a new set of naval drills due to take place near Ireland (left)
But in a sign that talks could be about to hit a wall, Sergei Lavrov – Russia’s foreign minister who has been leading the negotiations – told lawmakers today that Moscow is prepared to quickly take ‘retaliatory measures’ if its security demands are rejected and NATO continues with what it called ‘aggressive’ policies.
Speaking to lawmakers Wednesday, Lavrov said he and other top officials will advise Putin on the next steps after receiving written replies from the United States to the demands.
‘If the West continues its aggressive course, Moscow will take the necessary retaliatory measures,’ he said.
Lavrov also indicated that Russia will not wait forever for a response: ‘We won’t allow our proposals to be drowned in endless discussions,’ he said.
Asked by lawmakers if Russia could expand military cooperation with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, Lavrov responded that Moscow has close ties with those countries.
Earlier this month, Lavrov’s deputy pointedly refused to rule out the deployment of Russian military assets to Cuba and Venezuela – far closer to the U.S. than Ukraine – if Moscow’s security demands aren’t met.
NATO said this week it was bolstering its deterrence in the Baltic Sea region and the U.S. ordered 8,500 troops on higher alert for potential deployment to Europe. Western nations have also sent planeloads of weapons to help Ukraine strengthen its defenses.
Britain is also promising sanctions, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has urged European nations to do more to support Ukraine.
The U.K. has sent anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, though it has ruled out sending combat troops.
‘We’ll be legislating to toughen up our sanctions regime and make sure we are fully able to hit both individuals and companies and banks in Russia in the event of an incursion,’ she told the BBC. ‘What’s important is that all of our allies do the same.’
Amid the soaring tensions, the U.S., Britain, Australia, Germany and Canada have also moved to withdraw some of their diplomats and dependents from Kyiv.
Source: Daily Mail