Update(1632ET): In what appears Moscow's "answer" to the US and NATO countries continuing to supply major weapons systems to Ukrainian forces, state agency TASS is claiming that Russian forces have brought down a Ukrainian military transport plane that was transporting Western arms. It would mark a massive battlefield development if confirmed, potentially escalating conflict more directly with the West, now that Russia is actively targeting Western arms shipments.
The alleged shoot down occurred outside Odessa via anti-air systems, says TASS, while citing Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov. Though remaining unconfirmed, China state media has also picked up the report, citing the defense ministry statement, which reads:
“Near Odesa Russian anti-aircraft defense forces have shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, which was delivering a large shipment of arms supplied to Ukraine by Western counties,” Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said Saturday.
However, there's nothing in the way of independent or outside sources confirming it, and Ukraine's military has not issued any statements, nor are they likely to admit that their military aircraft were transporting Western weapons shipments, even if accurate.
“Near Odesa Russian anti-aircraft defense forces have shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, which was delivering a large shipment of arms supplied to Ukraine by Western counties,” Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said Saturday.— CGTN America (@cgtnamerica) April 16, 2022
Days ago, the Kremlin repeated its threat to attack any inbound shipments of weaponry or supplies coming from Ukraine's Western backers. The military also said it would hit "decision-making centers" - and on Saturday long-range missiles reportedly struck weapons depots in Kiev.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon and US State Department have continued positively boasting that more weapons are en route, in a continuing escalation...
Supply crates containing munitions and other explosive material bound for Ukraine are loaded at Dover Air Force Base in March 2022. pic.twitter.com/stoaiHyvHn— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) April 15, 2022
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Now more than 50 days into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the war appears to have escalated following Russia's loss of its Black Sea flagship which sunk after the Ukrainians say they struck it with Neptune anti-ship missiles. The warship's sinking likely marks a significant shift for the Kremlin. After suffering such major losses, Russia has more incentive to practice less restraint - which is perhaps why long-rage bombers are also apparently now in use. The Pentagon has since said it assesses the Ukrainians scored a direct hit on the warship, causing it to sink off Odessa.
It now appears Russia's retaliation for the devastating loss of its celebrated missile cruiser Moskva has begun, with the defense ministry announcing: "The number and scale of missile strikes against targets in Kyiv will increase in response to any terrorist attacks or sabotage committed by the Kyiv nationalist regime on Russian territory."
On Saturday it's being reported that after a lull in fighting near Kiev following weeks ago Russian forces having pulled back their positions to focus on Donbas in the east, there have been fresh scattered attacks on the Ukrainian capital.
“The number and scale of missile strikes against targets in #Kyiv will increase in response to any terrorist attacks or sabotage committed by the Kyiv nationalist regime on #Russian territory,” the defence ministry in #Moscow says.— KyivPost (@KyivPost) April 16, 2022
Read more here:https://t.co/cpYkj3dxUX pic.twitter.com/cbtBA9t9RM
"Russian forces resumed scattered attacks on Kyiv, western Ukraine and beyond Saturday in an explosive reminder to Ukrainians and their Western supporters that the whole country remains under threat despite Russia’s pivot toward mounting a new offensive in the east," The Associated Press reports.
Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed in a statement that the military launched "air-launched high-precision long-range weapons" in order to take out an armored vehicle plant in Kiev, however without specifying the exact location.
The AP reported further of the attack: "Smoke rose early Saturday from eastern Kyiv as Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported a strike on the the city’s Darnytski district. He said rescuers and paramedics were at the scene, and information about possible deaths would be provided later."
Russian MoD video showing T-72B, T-72B1, and possibly T-72A tanks from the 90th Tank Division's 239th Tank Regiment in Kharkiv Oblast with an escort from Mi-8AMTSh helicopters. Also Tigrs and Ural gun trucks with ZU-23-2.https://t.co/sK1J0Sq6iE pic.twitter.com/BKmyGzAETI— Rob Lee (@RALee85) April 16, 2022
The mayor of the suburban area warned residents it's still unsafe to return amid the Russian assault.
"It was not immediately clear from the ground what was hit in the attack. Darnytskyi is a sprawling district on the southeastern edge of the capital, containing a mixture of Soviet-style apartment blocks, newer shipping centers and big-box retail outlets, industrial areas and railyards," the AP details further of the fresh attack.
There are unconfirmed reports that Russia has attacked weapons manufacturing centers and depots...
Military factory "Artyom" in #Kiev that produced anti-tank guided missiles and anti-tank missile systems of various types,air-to-air missiles,missiles for MLRS 'Vilkha',anti-ship missiles 'Neptun' and air-defence guided missiles was destroyed yesterday by Russian missile strike. pic.twitter.com/FsbzxktHRl— Zrada2022 (@zrada2022) April 16, 2022
On Thursday the Kremlin warned that it would attack "decision-making centers" in Ukraine if cross-border attacks continue. Russia has said that in at least two recent instances, Ukrainian forces have conducted strikes on Russian soil. "The village of Spodaryushino, near the border with Ukraine, had been shelled by Ukraine, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia's Belgorod region, said in a statement on Telegram," CNN cited the Russian official was cited as saying.
Saturday's strikes in Kiev could be the start of more long-rage missile launches against various cities across Ukraine to come, as Russia turns from slow-grinding infantry and tank tactics to greater reliance on air power and long-range missiles.