Live Updates | Russia: we’ve destroyed air defense systems

MOSCOW — The Russian military says it has destroyed a shipment of air defense missile systems provided by the West.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the military used sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles to destroy four S-300 air defense missile launchers on the southern outskirts of the city of Dnipro. He said about 25 Ukrainian troops were also hit by the strike on Sunday.

Konashenkov said in a statement Monday that Ukraine had received the air defense systems from a European country that he didn’t name. Konashenkov’s claim couldn’t be independently verified.

Last week, Slovakia said it had handed over its Soviet-designed S-300 air defense systems to Ukraine, which has pleaded with the West to give it more weapons, including long-range air defense systems.

Slovakia’s prime minister office issued a statement late Sunday calling the news that the S-300 system given to Ukraine was destroyed “disinformation.” It was unclear, however, whether both sides are referring to the same airstrike. The Russians have targeted missile defense systems in three different locations in recent days.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Ukrainian defenders dig in as Russia boosts firepower

— Biden, Modi to speak as US presses for hard line on Russia

Ukrainian nuns open their monastery doors to the displaced

— US doubts new Russian war chief can end Moscow’s floundering

Analysis: War, economy could weaken Putin’s place as leader

— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

BRUSSELS — Austria’s foreign minister says Chancellor Karl Nehammer is taking “very clear messages of a humanitarian and political kind” to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said Monday that Nehammer decided to make the trip after meeting in Kyiv on Saturday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and following contacts with the leaders of Turkey, Germany and the European Union.

Schallenberg said ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts in Luxembourg that “we don’t want to leave any opportunity unused and must seize every chance to end the humanitarian hell in Ukraine.”

He added that “every voice that makes clear to President Putin what reality looks like outside the walls of Kremlin is not a wasted voice.”

Schallenberg said that Nehammer and Putin will meet one-on-one without media opportunities. He insisted that Austria has done everything to ensure that the visit isn’t abused, “and I think he (Putin) himself should have an interest in someone telling him the truth and really finding out what’s going on outside.”

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BRUSSELS — Germany’s foreign minister says Ukraine needs heavy weapons to defend itself and this is no time for “excuses.”

Ukraine’s president has warned that his country faces a crucial time and that Russian troops will step up operations in the east.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said as she arrived for a meeting with her European Union counterparts Monday: “What is clear is that Ukraine needs further military material, above all heavy weapons, and now is not the time for excuses — now is the time for creativity and pragmatism.”

Germany broke with a foreign policy tradition after Russia’s invasion to supply arms to Ukraine but has faced criticism from Kyiv for perceived hesitancy and slowness in providing material.

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BRUSSELS — European Union foreign ministers are meeting to weigh the effectiveness of the bloc’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine amid concern about Moscow’s preparations for a major attack in the east.

The ministers will hold talks with the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor-General Karim A.A. Khan as Western pressure mounts to hold to account those responsible for any war crimes in Ukraine.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is chairing Monday’s meeting in Luxembourg, deplored what he called the “brutal, brutal aggression” of Russian troops.

Borrell, who was in Ukraine over the weekend, says further EU sanctions against Russia “are always on the table.”

He says he’s “afraid the Russian troops are massing on the east to launch an attack on the Donbas,” region in the east after Moscow withdrew its forces from around the capital Kyiv last week.

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LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defense says Ukraine has beaten back several assaults by Kremlin forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, resulting in the destruction of Russian tanks, vehicles and artillery.

In an intelligence update released Monday morning, the ministry says Russian shelling in the two eastern regions is continuing.

“Russia’s continued reliance on unguided bombs decreases their ability to discriminate when targeting and conducting strikes, while greatly increasing the risk of civilian casualties,” the ministry said.

The ministry also said Russia’s “prior use” of phosphorus munitions in the Donetsk region raises the possibility they may be used in Mariupol as the battle for the city on Ukraine’s south coast intensifies.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand will send a military transport plane and a support team of 50 to Europe, as well as give money to Britain to buy weapons, as it significantly steps up its response to the war in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that the C130 Hercules plane would travel throughout Europe to carry much-needed equipment and supplies to key distribution centers. She said the plane wouldn’t fly directly into Ukraine as most military equipment is transported into the country by land.

Ardern said her government would also spend an additional 13 million New Zealand dollars ($9 million) on military and human rights support, including NZ$7.5 million for Britain to buy weapons and ammunition. Ardern said that brings New Zealand’s total contribution to the war effort to NZ$30 million ($20 million) with 67 people deployed.

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LVIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s president warned his nation Sunday night that the coming week would be as crucial as any in the war.

“Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

He accused Russia of trying to evade responsibility for war crimes.

“When people lack the courage to admit their mistakes, apologize, adapt to reality and learn, they turn into monsters. And when the world ignores it, the monsters decide that it is the world that has to adapt to them. Ukraine will stop all this,” Zelenskyy said.

“The day will come when they will have to admit everything. Accept the truth,” he said.

He again called on Western countries, including Germany, to provide more assistance to Ukraine. During talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Zelenskyy said he discussed “how to strengthen sanctions against Russia and how to force Russia to seek peace.”

“I am glad to note that the German position has recently changed in favor of Ukraine. I consider it absolutely logical,” Zelenskyy said.

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BERLIN — Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday.

The Austria Press Agency reported that Nehammer told reporters in Vienna on Sunday that he plans to make the journey. It follows a trip on Saturday to Kyiv, where he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

APA reported that Nehammer aims to encourage dialogue between Ukraine and Russia and also address “war crimes” in his meeting with Putin.

Austria is a member of the European Union and has backed the 27-nation bloc’s sanctions against Russia, though it so far has opposed cutting off deliveries of Russian gas. The country is militarily neutral and is not a member of NATO.

Nehammer said he was taking the trip on his own initiative, and that he had consulted with the European Union’s top officials. He said that he also informed Zelenskyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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