- Ukrainian military said a soldier was killed in shelling by pro-Russian separatists on Saturday morning in east Ukraine
Russia hit sea and land-based targets with ballistic and cruise missiles on Saturday as part of strategic nuclear exercises overseen by President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart, the Kremlin said.
The annual exercises featured launches of Kinzhal and Tsirkon hypersonic missiles and a number of other weapons, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Meanwhile, speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, US vice-president Kamala Harris warned of “significant and unprecedented economic costs” if Russia invades Ukraine.
Harris said, “Russia’s actions simply don’t match their words. We have prepared economic measures that will be swift, severe and united. We will target Russia’s financial institutions and key industries.”
Multiple explosions were heard on Saturday morning in the north of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, news agency Reuters reported citing a witness. The origin of the explosions was not clear. There was no immediate comment from separatist authorities or from Kyiv.
The Ukrainian military said a soldier was killed in shelling by pro-Russian separatists on Saturday morning in east Ukraine, where violence this week in a long-running conflict has stirred concern it could be the triggger for Russian military action.
US President Joe Biden said Friday he is convinced that Russian leader Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine in the coming days.
An estimated 40% to 50% of Russian ground forces deployed in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border have moved into attack positions nearer the border, said a US defense official.
Meanwhile, Russia’s top diplomat told France’s foreign minister by phone on Saturday that ignoring Moscow’s security demands was bad for stability in Europe and elsewhere, Russia’s foreign ministry said, as tensions surged in eastern Ukraine.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s veteran foreign minister, told France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian that all countries should comply with their commitments to ensure the principle of “equal and indivisible security”, the ministry said.
“Ignoring Russia’s legitimate rights in this area adversely affects the stability not only on the European continent, but also in the world,” it said in a statement. For his part, Le Drian said that dialogue was still possible, and that France was committed to work for it, but it was up to Russia to make that choice.” Today, Russia’s actions and words are out of step,” Le Drian’s ministry said in a statement.
First published in The Indian Express