Russia is likely removing nuclear warheads from ageing nuclear cruise missiles and firing unarmed munitions at Ukraine, Britain’s military intelligence said on Saturday.
The development, if verified, could indicate that Russia is running low on long-range missiles, it said.
The defence ministry said open-source imagery shows wreckage of an air-launched cruise missile fired at Ukraine which seemed to have been designed in the 1980s as a nuclear delivery system, adding that ballast was probably being substituted for the warheads.
Such a system will still produce damage through the missile’s kinetic energy and unspent fuel. However, it is unlikely to achieve reliable effects against intended targets, the ministry added in its daily intelligence update posted on Twitter.
“Whatever Russia’s intent, this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia’s stock of long-range missiles,” the ministry said.
In other developments, Ukrainian authorities are gradually restoring power, aided by the reconnection of four nuclear plants, but millions of people are still without heat or electricity after the most devastating Russian air strikes of the war.
In a rare public spat involving Ukrainian leaders, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy criticised the mayor of Kyiv on Friday for doing what he said was a poor job setting up emergency shelters to help those without power and heat.
Ukraine on Saturday marked its annual memorial day for the victims of the Soviet-era famine known locally as Holodomor.
Russia will pay for the famine that left millions of Ukrainians dead during the winter of 1932-33 and for its actions in the current war in Ukraine, the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration said.
“The Russians will pay for all of the victims of the Holodomor and answer for today’s crimes,” Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram.
In November 1932, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin dispatched police to seize all grain and livestock from newly collectivised Ukrainian farms, including the seed needed to plant the next crop.
Millions of Ukrainian peasants starved to death in the following months from what US historian Timothy Snyder calls “clearly premeditated mass murder”.
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