Russian President Putin insists Ukraine's new US-supplied weapon won't change the war's outcome

Local authorities say a Russian missile attack has killed two civilians in an apartment building in southern Ukraine

Illia Novikov
Wednesday 18 October 2023 12:44 BST

A Russian missile attack killed two civilians in an apartment building in southern Ukraine on Wednesday, local authorities said, as President Vladimir Putin dismissed the importance of a new U.S.-supplied weapon that Kyiv used to execute one of the most damaging attacks on the Kremlin’s air assets since the start of the war.

Putin told reporters that Russia “will be able to repel” further attacks by the U.S.-made Army Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS.

Ukraine claimed it used those missiles to destroy nine Russian helicopters, as well as ammunition, an air defense system and other assets at two airfields in Russia-occupied regions on Tuesday.

That development came as the two sides looked to gain battlefield advantages and consolidate their positions ahead of the winter when the weather would hamper operations.

The ATACMS will shift the battlefield layout to some degree as Russia will need to disperse its aircraft and ammunition depots. It had used aircraft to stop Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive.

Putin, speaking to reporters during a visit to Beijing, conceded the ATACMS creates an additional threat but he insisted that the weapon would not change the situation along the 1,500-kilometer (932-mile) front line.

“For Ukraine, in this sense, there’s nothing good ... it only prolongs the agony,” he said.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, described Washington’s decision to supply the ATACMS as “reckless” and “a grave mistake” that won’t alter the war’s outcome.

The fighting has ground largely to a stalemate, with a protracted war of attrition expected at least through next year.

The U.K. defense ministry said Wednesday that the Kremlin’s forces are currently trying to push forward in some parts of eastern Ukraine. However, the areas are well defended and it is “highly unlikely” the Russians will accomplish their goal of a major breakthrough, it said in an assessment posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Wednesday's attack killed two Ukrainian civilians and wounded at least three others when a Russian missile struck a building in the central district of the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, the region’s Gov. Yurii Malashko said.

The attack apparently used six S-300 missiles, which took only 42 seconds to reach the city after being launched from Russian-controlled Ukraine land, according to Malashko.

Russia’s defense ministry, meanwhile, claimed its forces shot down 28 Ukrainian drones in the Belgorod and Kursk regions and in the Black Sea area. It did not provide further details.

It wasn’t immediately possible to verify the two sides’ battlefield claims.


Jim Heintz in Tallinn, Estonia contributed.


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