The missile was downed over the Krovohrad Oblast in central Ukraine overnight on Saturday, May 14. It was shot down before it reached the regional capital Kropyvnystksyi which is home to 226,000 people.
Local publication The Kyiv Independent tweeted: “Russian missile targeting Kropyvnytsky shot down by air defense.
“Head of the local administration Andriy Raikovych said that the missile was downed over the Kirovohrad Oblast in central Ukraine overnight before it reached Kropyvnytsky, the regional capital of 226,000 people.”
It comes as Ukrainian authorities claimed Russian troops have started withdrawing from its second-largest city Kharkiv after weeks of heavy bombardment.
Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday (May 14) that Russian forces are pulling back from the eastern city and focusing on guarding supply routes while launching mortar, artillery and airstrikes on the eastern Donetsk region.
It follows news that Russia has struggled to make gains in Ukraine in recent weeks despite shifting the focus of its offensive to the eastern Donbas region after Kremlin troops were forced to retreat from the capital Kyiv.
Moscow has suffered heavy losses in military equipment and personnel, with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky claiming as many as 27,000 Russian soldiers have died since the start of the war.
Russia’s offensive in the eastern Donbas region has “lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule”, according to British military intelligence.
In its latest military assessment of the situation in Ukraine, released on Sunday, Britain’s defence ministry said Russia has probably lost around a third of the ground forces it deployed to Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24.
The Ministry of Defence tweeted: “Russia’s Donbas offensive has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule.
“Despite small-scale initial advances, Russia has failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the past month whilst sustaining consistently high levels of attrition.
“Russia has now likely suffered losses of one third of the ground combat force it committed in February.
“These delays will almost certainly be exacerbated by the loss of critical enablers such as bridging equipment and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drones.
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“Russian bridging equipment had been in short supply throughout the conflict, slowing and restricting offensive manoeuvre. Russian UAVs are vital for tactical awareness and directing artillery, but have been vulnerable to Ukrainian anti-air capabilities.”
The MoD said Russia’s forces are “increasingly constrained by degraded enabling capabilities, continued low morale and reduced combat effectiveness”.
It added: “Many of these capabilities cannot be quickly replaced or reconstituted, and are likely to continue to hinder Russian operations in Ukraine.”
It said Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days under the current conditions.
Moscow shifted the focus of its offensive to the eastern Donbas region last month after Russian troops were driven back from the capital Kyiv.
However, the MoD said they had failed to make any substantial territorial gains over the past month despite small-scale advances in the Donbas, which was already part-held by pro-Moscow separatists.
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At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin on Sunday, the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it is essential to support the government in Kyiv to help it “push Russia out” of Ukraine.
She said in a statement: “Putin must face a sustained defeat in Ukraine, Russia must be contained and such aggression must never happen again.
“Ukraine’s security must come from it being able to defend itself. Allies must support Ukraine’s move to NATO-standard equipment, immediately providing artillery, training and the required expertise.”
NATO’s deputy secretary general Mircea Geoană said the Ukrainians were now in a position to defeat Russia and win the war.
He told reporters: “The brutal invasion of Russia is losing momentum. With significant support from allies and partners in billions of dollars, in military support, in financial support, humanitarian support, we know that with the bravery of the Ukrainian people and army and with our help, Ukraine can win this war.”