Ukraine conflict: Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russian forces in Donbas - MoD

Ukrainian forces are continuing to repel Russian forces in Donbas – with Ukraine also claiming that the Kremlin is looting UK bound steel.

In their daily update, the Ministry of Defence said that Ukrainian forces continued to repel an attempted takeover of the Vuhlehirsk power plant – and that there had been a change in strategy from Russia due to a “critical shortage of dedicated ground-attack missiles.”

The update from the MoD read: “In the Donbas, Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russian attempts to assault the Vuhlehirsk power plant. Russian artillery remains focused on areas around the cities of Kramatorsk and Siversk.

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“On 21 July 2022, Vitaly Kim, governor of Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region, said that Russian forces had used seven air defence missiles to strike infrastructure, energy facilities and storage areas.”

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“Russia has increased its use of air defence missiles in a secondary ground attack mode because of critical shortages of dedicated ground-attack missiles.”

The update continued: “Russian has almost certainly deployed S-300 and S-400 strategic air defence systems, designed to shoot down aircraft and missiles at long ranges, near Ukraine from the start of invasion.”

“These weapons have relatively small warheads, designed to destroy aircraft. They could pose a significant threat against troops in the open and light buildings but are unlikely to penetrate hardened structures.

The deliveries of Western weapons have been crucial for Ukraine's efforts to fend off Russian attacks in the country's eastern industrial heartland of Donbas. The Western howitzers have some advantages compared to older Soviet-designed systems in the Russian and Ukrainian arsenals, but they require time for the Ukrainian crews to train how to operate them and their wide assortment poses obvious logistical challenges. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

"There is a high chance of these weapons missing their intended targets and causing civilian casualties because the missiles they are not optimised for this role, and their crews will have little training for such missions.”

Ukraine also claimed that amid the conflict Russia is looting steel bound for the UK and the European Union, the head of Ukraine’s largest steel company has said.

Raw and finished steel worth 600 million US dollars (£501 million) left behind in the Azovstal mill and nearby port in the brutalised city of Mariupol was bound for UK customers, but is now being transported to Russia and partly sold on to Asia and Africa, according to Metinvest chief executive Yuriy Ryzhenkov.

He told the BBC: “What they’re doing with this steel is basically looting.

“They’re stealing our products, not only our products, but also some of those products already belong to European customers.

“So we’re documenting as much as possible. We’re preparing the case and we will be going after them with everything we have.”

Yesterday, Russian shelling pounded a densely populated area in Ukraine’s second-largest city on Thursday, killing at least three people and injuring at least 23 with a barrage that struck a mosque, a medical facility and a shopping area, said officials.

Police in the north-east city of Kharkiv said cluster bombs hit Barabashovo Market. Local officials said the shelling also struck a bus stop, a gym and a residential building.

The bombardment came after Russia reiterated its plans to seize territories beyond eastern Ukraine, where the Russian military has spent months trying to conquer Ukraine’s Donbas region, south of Kharkiv.

Ukrainian officials recently announced their plans to try to recapture Russian-occupied areas near the country’s southern Black Sea coast.