Vladimir Putin says US trying to ‘prolong’ Ukraine conflict
Russian President says Washington is ‘using the people of Ukraine as cannon fodder’, lashing out at the US for supplying arms to the Ukraine government.
Kyiv/Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Washington on Tuesday of drawing out the war in Ukraine, as explosions rocked a Russian military facility on the Kremlin-controlled peninsula of Crimea.
The first UN-chartered vessel laden with grain meanwhile left Ukraine for Africa following a hallmark deal brokered by Turkey and the UN to relieve a global food crisis.
“The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict,” Putin said, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow.
Washington is “using the people of Ukraine as cannon fodder”, he said, lashing out at the United States for supplying weapons to Kyiv.
Explosions rock Crimea
Explosions and fires ripped through an ammunition depot in Russia-annexed Crimea on Tuesday in the second suspected Ukrainian attack on the peninsula in just over a week, forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000 people.
Russia blamed the blasts in the village of Mayskoye in the Dzhankoi district an “act of sabotage”, without naming the perpetrators.
The blasts on Tuesday come one week after at least one person was killed and five more injured in similar explosions at a Russian airbase in Crimea.
Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said on Tuesday the latest blasts in Dzhankoi were a “reminder” that “Crimea occupied by Russians is about warehouses explosions and high risk of death for invaders and thieves”.
In another reported act of sabotage, Russia’s Tass news agency quoted the FSB security agency as saying Ukrainian operatives blew up six high-voltage transmission towers earlier this month in Russia’s Kursk region, close to Ukraine.
Meanwhile in the eastern Donbas region, which has seen most of the fighting, Ukraine said Russia had launched a “massive” offensive from an oil refinery in the recently-captured city of Lysychansk in Lugansk province.
Russia-installed officials in the occupied areas of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region said on Tuesday Ukrainian forces were shelling the city of Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, is located.
Kyiv and Moscow have traded accusations over a series of strikes this month on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine.
On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned a “catastrophe” at the Russian-controlled facility would threaten the whole of Europe.
French President Emmanuel Macron underlined to Ukraine’s president his concerns over risks to the country’s nuclear facilities, during a phone call between the two leaders on Tuesday, said the French presidency.