Russia’s defense minister has instructed the country’s Armed Forces based in eastern Ukraine to prioritize strikes on Ukraine’s long-range weapons, according to a statement circulated by news agencies Monday.
Sergei Shoigu issued the instructions to the Vostok (“East”) Battalion as part of his second publicly announced visit to the frontline since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
“Army General Sergei Shoigu … instructed the commander to prioritize the enemy’s long-range missiles and artillery weapons,” the Defense Ministry statement said.
Shoigu instructed units across all operational fronts to “eliminate the possibility for the Kyiv regime to inflict massive missile and artillery strikes” on Russian-held territories.
The statement claimed that Ukraine uses long-range weapons to target residential areas in eastern Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatist republics and “deliberately” set fire to wheat fields and grain storage facilities.
Western-supplied weapons systems, particularly the U.S.-made HIMARS, have allowed Ukraine to target Russian military positions far beyond the frontlines, drawing increasing concern from Moscow.
Shoigu’s remarks echoed Saturday’s statement by the ministry, which appeared to be a direct response to Ukraine’s claims of a spate of successful strikes on 30 Russian logistics and ammunitions hubs.
Responding to Ukrainian officials’ remarks saying HIMARS allow them to reach targets in annexed Crimea, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned of “judgment day” in response, an apparent hint at Russia’s nuclear weapons.