Russia to step up strikes on Western weapons in Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: Russian Defence Minister Shoigu chairs a meeting in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia will intensify strikes on Ukrainian storage bases that house Western-supplied weapons, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday, as the United States prepares to approve and deliver a long-delayed batch of new military aid.

In remarks to defence officials, Shoigu said Russia had "dispelled the myth of the superiority of Western weapons" and its forces had gained the initiative along the 1,000 km (600-mile) battle front.

He referenced the fact that Washington was poised to supply Ukraine with a new military aid package worth nearly $61 billion following a vote by the House of Representatives on Saturday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Kyiv will soon receive more long-range ATACMS missile systems as part of the package. U.S. officials say the aid will include ammunition supplies and interceptors for air defence systems.

"In proportion to the threats posed by the United States and its allies, we will continue to improve the composition and structure of the Armed Forces and increase the production of the most popular weapons and military equipment," Shoigu said.

"We will increase the intensity of attacks on logistics centers and storage bases for Western weapons."

Shoigu repeated Russia's assertion that it has captured the villages of Pervomaiske, Bohdanivka and Novomykhailivka this month. On Monday, a Ukrainian commander denied the fall of the latter, saying his troops held 15-20% of the village.

The Russian defence ministry said Russian marines involved in the operation to take Novomykhailivka had captured Western-made weapons, including Swedish grenade launchers, American anti-tank Javelins and NATO electronic warfare systems.

The ministry published video of what it said was the operation to capture the village. Reuters could not verify when the video was filmed but was able to confirm the location as Novomykhailivka based on buildings, roads and a lake that matched file and satellite imagery of the area.

(Reporting by Reuters; writing by Mark Trevelyan, editing by Timothy Heritage and Bernadette Baum)