Russian President Vladimir Putin warns that his country could start expanding the scope of its ongoing offensive in Ukraine if the West upgraded its weapons supplies to the ex-Soviet republic.

If longer-range missiles were supplied to Ukraine, “we will strike at those targets which we have not yet been hitting,” Putin told the Rossiya-1 state television channel in an interview on Sunday.

The United States as well as Ukraine’s other Western allies have been infusing Ukraine’s war machine with millions of dollars in modern weaponry since February, when Russia began what Putin called as the time the “special military operation.”

Washington has, most recently, pledged to provide Ukraine with precision rocket systems that are supposed to enable it to strike Russian positions from a longer range.

According to Putin, the Russian operation is aimed at “demilitarizing” the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine, which together form the Donbas region. In 2014, the two regions declared themselves new republics, refusing to recognize Ukraine’s Western-backed government.

Ordering the operation, the Russian head of state said the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years were suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”

Ukraine: West should keep up supplies until Russia ‘defeated’

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar, meanwhile, urged that the West does not interrupt its weapon supplies to the country.

“We have already entered into a protracted war and we will need constant support,” Ganna Malyar told local media.

“The West must understand that its help cannot be a one-time thing, but something that continues until our victory,” she added.

During the Sunday interview, Putin said any new arms deliveries would only “prolong the conflict.”

At the same time, however, he underplayed the “fuss” around Western weapon supplies to Ukraine.

“We understand that this supply from the United States and some other countries is meant to make up for the losses of this military equipment,” Putin said.

“This is nothing new. It doesn’t change anything in essence,” he added.

Russia destroys donated tanks in Kiev

Also on Sunday, Russia said it had used long-range missiles to destroy tanks supplied to Ukraine by Eastern European countries, during operations focusing on Kiev.

“High-precision, long-range missiles fired by the Russian Aerospace Forces on the outskirts of Kiev destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles that were in hangars,” said Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.



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