US ‘not preventing’ Ukraine from developing its own long-range weapons

7 December 2022, 12:53 PM
Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin (Photo:REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan)

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin (Photo:REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan)

The United States is not working to prevent Ukraine from developing its own long-range weapons that could potentially strike Russian territory, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Dec. 6, CNN reports.

"We are not working to prevent Ukraine from developing their own capability," Austin said.

Austin’s comments came after a senior State Department official suggested that Kyiv was behind recent drone strikes on three Russian military airfields.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said that "nobody has claimed responsibility" for the drone strikes, but noted that "the Ukrainian people are incredibly innovative; they are making their own drones, air and sea, that are incredibly effective."

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In addition, the State Department said that Washington has "neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia."

An explosion occurred at an air base near Engels in Russia early on Dec. 5, with two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers reported to have been damaged. While Ukraine has not admitted to carrying out the attack, some experts have speculated that it might have modified a Soviet-era Tu-141 reconnaissance drone to conduct the strike.

Later, two more strikes on Russian air bases were reported, in Dyagilevo, and near Kursk.

The Russian military later said the strike at the Engels air base had been carried out “by an unidentified UAV.”

The day before the reported drone strike at the Engels air base, Ukraine announced that it had successfully tested a strike drone with a range of around 1,000 kilometers, with a 75 kilogram explosive warhead.

The Engels air base is about 700 kilometers from Ukraine. The Tu-141 has a range of about 1,000 kilometers.

The air base is one of those from which Russia flies bombers to launch cruise missiles at critical Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. Russia is waging a campaign to destroy electricity, water and heating infrastructure in order to encourage Ukrainians to force their government to seek a ceasefire.

Russia urgently needs a ceasefire in its nine-month-long full-scale invasion in order to rebuild military units badly mauled by fighting in Ukraine.

On the same day as the alleged Ukrainian strike on the Engels air base, Russia launched another mas attack on civilian critical infrastructure in Ukraine. Of about 70 missiles fired from bombers and warships, 60 were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.

Some of the bombers that launched cruise missiles towards Ukraine flew out of Engels air base.

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