Russia says it had destroyed anti-aircraft missile systems supplied to Ukraine by a European state, without specifying which country provided the equipment.
Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Monday Russian Kalibr missiles destroyed on Sunday four S-300 launchers concealed in a hangar on the outskirts of the central-eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, hitting 25 Ukrainian soldiers in the attack.
Slovakia, which had donated such a missile system to Ukraine last week, denied that the one it supplied had been struck. The prime minister’s office issued a statement calling Russian reports that its S-300 system had been destroyed “disinformation”. It was unclear, however, whether both sides were referring to the same strike.
There was no immediate comment by Ukrainian authorities.
The Russian defence ministry said its forces targeted missile defence systems in three different locations in recent days. They also shot down two Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft near the city of Izyum and destroyed two ammunition depots, one of which was near the southern city of Mykolaiv, it added.
The Pentagon said Russia has a clear advantage in armoured forces for its next phase in its war on Ukraine, which will focus on the eastern region of Donbas.
Press secretary John Kirby said Russian forces had spread themselves too thin to take the capital, Kyiv, following the February 24 invasion, but they were refocusing on a smaller region and still had the vast majority of their combat power.
The United States on Friday said it had sent a Patriot missile defence system to Slovakia to replace the S-300 air defence systems sent to Ukraine.
“Now is no time for complacency,” US President Joe Biden said when announcing the Patriot transfer. “As the Russian military repositions for the next phase of this war, I have directed my administration to continue to spare no effort to identify and provide to the Ukrainian military the advanced weapons capabilities it needs to defend its country.”
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said the system, as well as a team of US soldiers to operate it, will arrive in Slovakia in the coming days and remain there for an undefined duration.