David Cameron
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron walks outside 10 Downing Street in London, Britain November 13, 2023. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
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Moscow threatens UK with strikes if Ukraine hits Russia with British weapons

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Moscow threatened Monday to strike at British military targets inside Ukraine and elsewhere if Kyiv’s forces struck Russia with British-supplied long-range missiles — a move British Foreign Secretary David Cameron greenlighted Kyiv to take in self-defense.

During a visit in Kyiv last week, Cameron said Kyiv’s forces will be able to use British long-range weapons to strike targets inside Russia.

“Just as Russia is striking inside Ukraine, you can quite understand why Ukraine feels the need to make sure it’s defending itself,” Cameron said in an interview with Reuters last week.

Cameron also said that London did not put “caveats” on how Ukrainian forces use weapons supplied by Britain.

The Russian foreign ministry announced in a statement it had summoned the British Ambassador Nigel Casey in Moscow and warned him that if Ukrainian forces use British-supplied weapons to strike Russia, Moscow could retaliate at “any U.K. military facility and equipment on Ukrainian territory and beyond.”

“The ambassador was urged to reflect on the inevitable catastrophic consequences of such hostile steps by London and to immediately refute in the strongest and most unequivocal manner the bellicose provocative statements by the head of the Foreign Office,” the statement added.

Russia also announced earlier that it was planning new nuclear weapons drills near Ukraine’s borders, citing “threats” made by Western leaders, including French leader Emmanuel Macron and British officials, and in response to NATO’s expansive military exercises close to the Russian borders.

Ukraine’s energy grid restored

Ukraine said Monday it had restored power to hundreds of thousands of people who lost electricity in Russian strikes overnight but warned of “urgent challenges” in maintaining its electricity infrastructure.

Moscow has been barraging Ukrainian energy facilities, triggering blackouts and energy rationing across the country.

Around 400,000 households lost power in the northeastern Sumy region after Russian forces struck high-voltage distribution lines, energy officials said.

The regional electricity operator later said all but around 15,000 homes had been reconnected to the grid.

Ukrainian Minister of Energy Herman Halushchenko called on allies to increase sanctions on Russia’s energy sector, saying “sanctions against Russia should deprive it of any opportunity to be a player in the world markets, in the energy markets.”

Russian attacks also cut power to consumers in the nearby region of Kharkiv, leaving 32,600 households without electricity in the morning, the energy ministry said.

Russian attacks increase

Russian forces have increased their attacks on the regions of Sumy and Kharkiv in recent months, creating fears that Russia could be preparing a ground offensive in those regions, which were partially occupied at the beginning of Moscow’s invasion.

Kyiv says Moscow is escalating attacks from the air and on land ahead of nationwide celebrations on May 9, when Russia marks its victory against Nazi Germany in World War II, and while munition-depleted Ukraine awaits the arrival of critical weapons supplies from the United States.

Russia said Monday its forces had captured two more front-line villages in Ukraine, including in the northeast Kharkiv region, where Kyiv had repelled Moscow’s troops earlier in the conflict.

Russian army units “liberated the village of Kotlyarivka in the Kharkiv region” and “the village of Soloviove in the Donetsk People’s Republic,” the defense ministry said in a daily briefing.

Kotlyarivka lies about 20 kilometers from the embattled Ukrainian stronghold of Kupiansk in the northeast, an area that has seen intense shelling amid speculation Moscow could launch an offensive there.

Soloviove meanwhile lies on the eastern front, close to the village of Ocheretyne that Moscow claimed to have captured Sunday.

Ukraine’s military made no mention of either locality in its evening General Staff report, but its outgunned and outmanned forces have struggled to hold the front line in recent months.

Ukrainian bloggers appeared to acknowledge that both villages were in Russian hands.

Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine’s ground forces commander, said late last month that Kyiv had pulled back from three villages in the eastern Donetsk region and was building a new line of fortifications amid fears of Russian advances.

Deadly Ukraine drone attack in Belgorod

Officials in western Russia said a Ukrainian drone attack killed at least six people Monday in the Belgorod region near the Russia-Ukraine border.

Regional Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram the drone struck several vehicles and that the attack injured more than 30 people.

Ukraine’s military said Monday the country’s air defenses shot down 12 of 13 drones launched by Russian forces in overnight attacks.

The Ukrainian air force said the drones were intercepted over the Sumy region, located in northeastern Ukraine along the border with Russia.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.