Russia is using inaccurate missiles from old Soviet stocks for more than 50 percent of its strikes in Ukraine, and the rate of the strikes has more than doubled in the last two weeks, a brigadier general in Ukraine’s armed forces has said.
Russian missiles have hit an array of targets in Ukraine in recent days, including killing at least 18 people at a shopping centre in the central city of Kremenchuk.
Brigadier General Oleksii Hromov told a news conference on Thursday that Russia was trying to hit military and critical infrastructure, but that the use of old Soviet-era missiles that are less accurate was leading to significant loss of civilian life.
The brigadier general said 202 missiles had been fired on Ukraine in the second half of June, an increase of 120 from the first half of the month. He estimated that 68 civilian sites had been hit in the second half of this month.
His analysis diverged from that of some Ukrainian politicians who accuse Russia of deliberately striking civilians to sow panic.
“The enemy’s targets remain military facilities, critical infrastructure and industry, transport networks. At the same time, the civilian population is suffering significant losses due to [poorly targeted] strikes,” Hromov said.
“To carry out rocket strikes, the enemy in more than 50 percent [of cases] is using missiles from the Soviet reserve, which are not sufficiently precise. As a result, civilian buildings are being hit,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Monday’s strike on the Kremenchuk shopping centre a deliberate “terrorist” attack and Western leaders and Pope Francis joined him in condemning it.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, denies targeting civilians and says it only hits military infrastructure.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry said that Russian bomber aircraft had likely launched dozens of heavy, 1960s-era, anti-ship missiles against targets on the ground in Ukraine.
Russia was likely forced to use the 5.5-tonne anti-ship missiles because it has run short of more precise modern missiles, the UK ministry said.
The Kh-22 missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead. When such missiles are used to attack targets on the ground with conventional warheads, they “are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and casualties”, the ministry said.
Russian missiles have hit several cities in recent weeks, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and more. Local officials say many of the missiles hit civilian structures such as apartment buildings and a school.
Missiles hit an apartment block and the grounds of a nursery in the centre of Kyiv on Sunday morning, killing one person and wounding six, local officials said.