Russia warns of escalation; Kyiv shoots down dozens of drones

Russia warns of escalation; Kyiv shoots down dozens of drones
Damage to a factory after overnight drone attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on 28 May 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Sergey Dolzhenko)

Russia’s ambassador to the UK warned of an escalation to the war in Ukraine as Britain and other Western allies commit increasingly advanced weapons to aid Kyiv. Speaking on the BBC, Andrei Kelin said the actions of Nato countries, and ‘especially’ the UK, risk lengthening and triggering a ‘new dimension’ to the war. Moscow hadn’t yet started to ‘act very seriously’, the diplomat said.

Ukraine said it shot down dozens of drones fired overnight in one of the biggest attacks on the capital, Kyiv, since the war started. It was the 14th such assault in May alone and came as the city celebrated Kyiv Day, a holiday that marks its founding more than 1,500 years ago.

More than 40 unmanned aerial vehicles were shot down in Kyiv, which sustained an air raid lasting over five hours, the municipal military administration said on Telegram. In all, Ukraine intercepted 52 of 54 Shahed drones fired by Russia overnight, the country’s Air Force command said on Telegram. One man was killed in Kyiv by falling debris.

With attention focused on Ukraine’s potential counteroffensive, army commander Valeriy Zaluzhnyi on Saturday posted a video on social media proclaiming that “the time has come to reclaim what is ours”. The bid to retake occupied territory is “ready to begin” and could start “tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or in a week,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, told the BBC.

Latest developments

Pilots say F-16s can help Ukraine, but missiles could down them 

The F-16 jets that the Ukrainian military is touting as a potential game-changer in its conflict with Russia will either be restricted to defence or deployed in very high-risk operations, according to people who’ve flown the planes in combat.

The General Dynamics Corp fighter-bombers will be a significant upgrade on the Soviet-era planes that Ukrainian pilots have been flying so far. But the F-16s that are likely to be sent to Ukraine will still have inferior radar and shorter-range missiles than the most modern Russian jets and air defences.

“It’ll be like they pushed the easy button or switched from driving a Lada to a Honda Accord,” says Brynn Tannehill, a former aviator who designed simulators for F-16s, referring to the notoriously clunky Soviet-era Lada car. All the same, she added, “You can’t overcome the laws of physics.”

That means that the Ukrainians may have to rein in their stated expectations that the F-16s will enable them to impose air superiority, shoot down cruise missiles and the latest enemy jets, destroy troops and artillery on the battlefield, and even sink the Black Sea Fleet. The jets would, instead, give Ukraine “an incremental capability that they don’t have right now,” US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said at a briefing.



Gas price plunge brings relief to Europe after energy panic 

European gas prices have plunged to the lowest since mid-2021, when Russia was just beginning to squeeze supplies before its invasion of Ukraine, helping to reverse a surge in inflation and bring relief to consumers.

The slump — gas futures are down by two-thirds already this year – hasn’t just eased the pressure on household budgets. It also undermines one of the biggest bargaining chips held by President Vladimir Putin — the ability to squeeze the region’s gas supplies.

With some traders predicting short-term prices could even go negative at times this summer, the picture couldn’t be more different from May last year. Back then, futures were quadruple what they are now and countries were forced to revive coal generation to keep the lights on after Russia slashed gas supplies.

There were also worries about shortages and whether Europe would be able to build gas storage levels before winter. Now, stockpiles are above average and might even be filled during the summer, and ahead of schedule.

Ukraine pressures Germany to provide long-range Taurus missiles 

Ukraine has asked the German government to provide long-range Taurus missiles, which would be capable of hitting Moscow.

A spokesperson of the German defence ministry said that the request from Kyiv had arrived in Berlin in the past few days, but did not want to give any further details.

The request, which was first reported by the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, touches on a sensitive issue for the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky personally asked Scholz for the missiles during his recent visit to Berlin, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported. The ministry spokesperson denied to comment and also didn’t say when a decision could be expected. DM


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