Russia’s weekend attack on a base in western Ukraine used cruise missiles fired from long-range bombers inside Russian airspace, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday, adding that Moscow’s advance remained largely stalled elsewhere.
Ukraine said 35 people died and another 134 were wounded when the missiles hit a base at Yavoriv – just 12 miles from the Polish border.
The official said the U.S. assessed that more than two dozen cruise missiles were used in the strike, which damaged seven structures at .
Although the International Peace Keeping and Security Center base had been used by N.A.T.O. to train Ukrainian forces, the official said there were no longer any U.S. personnel in the vicinity.
Nor would the attack disrupt supply lines getting weapons to Ukrainian forces, he said.
‘I would note that that in our our assessment all these air launch cruise missiles were launched from long range bombers, Russian long range bombers from Russian airspace, not from inside Ukrainian airspace,’ he said.
‘And again you know, for the advocates of a no fly zone, this is an example of what a no fly zone inside Ukraine would have had no effect on this particular set of strikes.’
A senior defense official said Russia fired more than two dozen missiles from aircraft inside Russian air space at the International Peace Keeping and Security Centre in Yavoriv, Ukraine, on Sunday morning
Smoke rises from damaged buildings following an attack on the Yavoriv military base, which was hit on Sunday
A senior U.S. defense official said the attack on the base in Yavoriv would not disrupt supply lines to Ukrainian defense forces
Armored vehicles of NATO’s rapid reaction force brigade in Norway for the military exercise Cold Response 22 arrive at Borg Havn in Fredrikstad, Norway on March 10, 2022. While the war rages in Ukraine, NATO and its partners are sharpening their weapons in Norway their ability to come to the aid of one of their own
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, hike to a training area before Exercise Cold Response 2022 gets under way
The strikes follow a pattern first described last week by defense officials, with Russia flying cautiously, keeping many of its sorties within its own air space.
Even though the Ukrainian Air Force is flying only a handful of sorties each day, they said, Ukraine’s air defense systems had been successful in keep Russian planes away.
On Monday, the official said little had changed in the past 48 hours among Russian ground forces.
‘Almost all of Russia’s advances remain stalled,’ said the official.
The Pentagon last week praised the way Ukrainian fighters had proved more agile than their adversaries, staging ‘hit and run’ attacks on the armoured columns bearing down on Kyiv.
The attack on Yavoriv and its proximity to Poland raised fresh fears at the weekend that Russian mid broaden its assault to neighboring countries.
Washington and its allies have repeatedly said that any attack on N.A.T.O. nations would trigger the alliance’s article five ‘collective defense’ promise.
It underlined its strength with an exercise including about 30,000 troops from more than 25 countries in northern Norway on Monday.
NATO said that the ‘Cold Response’ drill was ‘not linked to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.’
But the long-planned exercises allow N.A.T.O. to show off its strength in Europe, just a few hundred miles from the Russian border.
Russia has declined to be an observer at the exercise that aims at having Alliance members and partners practicing working together on land, in the air and at sea, said the armed forces.
The Norwegian armed forces said it provided “thorough information” to the Russians, including the Russian Ministry of Defense, saying that was “vital for preventing misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict.”
The drill, which is held every other year, is due to end on April 1.
HMS Prince of Wales, the British aircraft carrier top, deploys for NATO Cold Response exercises off Norway
NATO troops are seen taking part in Exercise Cold Response 22. The Norwegian-led exercise is designed to enhance military capabilities, test U.S. Marines ability to work alongside NATO allies and partners and adapt to challenging climates while training on offensive and defensive tactical operations.
Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling by Russian forces in the early hours of Monday
A Ukrainian soldier helps fire crews search the ruins of a Kyiv apartment building for survivors and victims after Russia resumed its bombing campaign early Monday
Elsewhere there were diplomatic moves to end the conflict, or at least increase Moscow’s diplomatic isolation.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met China’s top diplomat at a hotel in Rome on Monday to warn Beijing that it would face international penalties if it helped Russia and its invasion of Ukraine.
Last week senior U.S. intelligence officials said they believed Chinese leaders may be worried that Moscow’s invasion, and President Vladimir Putin’s increasingly brutal tactics, will reflect badly on them if they offer diplomatic cover.
Against that background, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Monday morning reported that Yang Jiechi had met Sullivan in Rome, but offered no further details.
American officials and allies have repeatedly said that China risks facing secondary sanctions if it sides with Russia.
And on Sunday, they claimed that Putin had asked his ally for military help for his faltering invasion.
But that triggered accusations of disinformation by Chinese officials.
Zhao Lijian, spokesman for Beijing’s foreign ministry, said that America was ‘targeting China on the Ukraine issue with malicious intentions.’
A day earlier, Sullivan warned Beijing of ‘consequences’ if it tried to bail out Putin by, for example, providing ways to skirt international economic sanctions.
‘We will ensure that neither China, nor anyone else, can compensate Russia for these losses,’ Sullivan told NBC ahead of the meeting.
‘In terms of the specific means of doing that, I’m not going to lay all of that out in public, but we will communicate that privately to China, as we have already done and will continue to do.’