As the fighting rages in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, the Russian military is keeping up the pressure on Kyiv with a wide-ranging airstrike and bombing campaign that is partly intended to disrupt the flow of Western arms into the country.
"High-precision Oniks missiles delivered a strike near Odessa on a logistics center at a military airfield through which foreign weapons were delivered. The hangars with Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as with rockets and munitions received from the US and European countries were destroyed,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Tuesday, according to state news outlet TASS.
Konashenkov claimed that the Russian military struck sixty-nine Ukrainian military targets overnight, destroying the launch pad of an S-300 surface-to-air missile system, six Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles, a command post, and a munitions depot.
Russian state media reported this week that Russia’s National Guard claimed to have uncovered a large Ukrainian weapons cache sourced from foreign military equipment. "While performing search and reconnaissance, the National Guard servicemen uncovered a large cache with weapons and munitions of a sabotage and reconnaissance group of the Ukrainian special operations forces in the Izyum district of the Kharkov Region,” the National Guard’s statement read. “While inspecting the area of a stronghold, in a wooded area, the National Guardsmen uncovered two Turkish, two Swedish and three American anti-tank grenade launchers.”
U.S. officials have previously expressed surprise that the Russian military has not done more to target Western arms deliveries into Ukraine, despite repeated claims by top Kremlin officials that Russia views these shipments as “legitimate” military targets.
But that appears to be slowly changing as the West continues to funnel heavy weapons systems to Ukraine’s armed forces in a bid to turn the ongoing battle for the Donbas in Kyiv’s favor. The Russian military announced on April 23 that it eliminated a logistics terminal near Odessa that contained what Konashenkov described as a “large batch of foreign weapons received from the U.S. and European countries.” Within the next few days, Russian forces bombed five railway stations in central and western Ukraine. Ukrainian defense officials said the Russian military is targeting railway junctions in an attempt “to destroy the supply routes of military-technical assistance from partner states.”
It remains unclear why the Russian military did not try to target these key transit points in the earlier stages of the war. Pro-Kremlin political commentators have speculated that the railways in question have not been struck until now in order to protect the financial interests of certain well-connected Russian oligarchs and, by extension, their Ukrainian trading partners.
CNN reported on Tuesday that the Russian military has launched another wave of railway strikes, this time targeting railways in Ukraine’s far-western Lviv region. Local officials said two railway power substations were damaged in the attack, adding that parts of the city are currently without power.
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.