NATO has confirmed that Ukrainian forces have started using powerful ballistic missiles against militants in the east of the country. Kiev previously denied the fact, revealed to DW television by NATO sources in Brussels.
The use of missiles starting this week was first broken by CNN’s Barbara Starr on Wednesday, who cited “three sources” in the Pentagon who said that evidence had been obtained with satellite imagery.
DW, which published the information on its Russian-language and Ukrainian-language websites, says that it has lodged an official query about the use of ballistic missiles with Pentagon, but has so far received no answer.
The Soviet-era weapon, NATO reporting name SS-21 Scarab, the newest modification of which has a range of up to 185 kilometers, with a warhead that contains up to 500 kilograms of explosive materials. It is not a high-precision weapon, and has an accuracy radius of about 70 meters at best.
Following the CNN report, Ukraine Security Council representative Andrey Lysenko denied that Kiev was using ballistic missiles, claiming that Ukraine “has enough other, less destructive weapons” to fight off the insurgency.
The leading field commander of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, Igor Strelkov, however, claimed that the government had transported three Scarabs to the airport in Kramatorsk, a rebel stronghold it has recently retaken.
“The Ukrainian military are planning to use these ballistic missiles against water treatment plants that use chlorine in the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk,” Strelkov told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.