Ukrainian ballistic missile plant destroyed – Russia
The Russian military has destroyed a military plant used to repair the warheads of Tochka-U ballistic missiles, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov announced on Monday. The facility was located in the southeast Ukrainian city of Dnepr, formerly known as Dnepropetrovsk.
Soviet-made Tochka-U tactical ballistic missiles have been extensively used by the Ukrainian forces in the conflict with Russia. The system is arguably the longest-reach weapon at Kiev’s disposal, boasting a maximum range of 120km. Units can be fitted with various warheads, including cluster bombs.
This type of missile has been involved in multiple mass-casualty incidents during the conflict, according to Moscow. On March 14, a Tochka-U was launched at Donetsk, the capital of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). The missile, which carried a cluster munition warhead, was intercepted by DPR forces, yet some of its explosive parts hit the city, killing over 20 and injuring at least 36 civilians.
Another incident involving the Tochka-U occurred in the Kiev-controlled city of Kramatorsk on April 8. A missile again said to be loaded with a cluster munitions warhead hit a local railway station being used to evacuate civilians from the war zone. The attack left dozens of civilians killed and injured.
While Ukraine was quick to blame Moscow for the strike, the latter firmly denied any involvement, branding the attack an act of “barbarism” by Kiev's forces. The Russian military pointed out that this type of missile has been retired from active use and branded the accusations “a provocation that has absolutely no relation to reality,” adding that the Tochka-U has only been used by the Ukrainian side during the current conflict.
Russia attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, signed in 2014, and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.