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Day 25: Hypersonic missiles, Javelins, Stingers enter Ukraine war

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Ukrainian service member unpacks Javelin anti-tank missiles, delivered by plane as part of the US military support package for Ukraine, at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kiev, on February 10, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

The conflict in Ukraine takes a new twist as Russia uses its newest Kinzhal hypersonic missiles close to the border with NATO member Romania, and Kiev says it will soon receive a new shipment of advanced US weapons, including Javelin and Stinger missiles.

Russia said on Saturday it fired hypersonic missiles from its “Kinzhal” system in order to destroy an underground weapons storage site in the west of Ukraine.

Russia’s Interfax news agency said it was the first time Russia had deployed the hypersonic missiles since it sent troops into the former Soviet state on February 24.

The development comes as Ukraine's Western allies have stepped up their delivery of weapons to the country to bolster its defenses.  

Ukraine to get Javelin and Stinger missiles

Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said Saturday that the country will receive a new shipment of US weapons within days, including Javelin and Stinger missiles.

“The weapons will be on the territory of our country in the nearest future. We are talking about days,” Danilov said.

In another bizarre twist, the United States has reportedly been pressuring Turkey to send its Russian-made equipment and systems, including S-300s and S-400s, to Ukraine to be used against Russia. 

The idea, which analysts said is sure to be shot down by Turkey, is part of a wider discussion between US and Turkish officials about how the United States and its allies can do more to support Ukraine and also draw Turkey back into Washington's orbit. 

Dozens killed as Russia strikes Mykolaiv barracks

Meanwhile, dozens of soldiers were killed after Russian troops struck a Ukrainian military barracks in the southern city of Mykolaiv, according to witnesses.

"No fewer than 200 soldiers were sleeping in the barracks" when Russian troops struck early Friday, a Ukrainian serviceman on the ground told AFP.

"At least 50 bodies have been recovered, but we do not know how many others are in the rubble," he said.

Mariupol art school bombed

Also on Saturday, Russian forces bombed a Mariupol art school where 400 residents were sheltering, the city’s council said on Sunday, adding that people -- including women, children and the elderly -- “are still under the rubble” of the destroyed G12 art school.

There was no immediate word of casualties from the Saturday attack.

In his late night broadcast, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the siege of Mariupol would “go down in history of responsibility for war crimes.”

“To do this to a peaceful city... is a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come.”

More than 6,600 Ukrainians were evacuated from besieged cities through eight humanitarian corridors on Saturday, Zelenskiy, said.

UN says 10 million people displaced 

The UN refugee agency said on Friday that more than 3.3 million refugees have now fled Ukraine since the Russian military action, while nearly 6.5 million have been internally displaced within the country.

"People continue to flee because they are afraid of bombs, airstrikes and indiscriminate destruction," UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said.

The UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) also said that as of Wednesday, 162,000 third-country nationals had fled Ukraine.

Zelensky blasts Swiss banks over ‘business as usual’ With Russia

In a live address to a Swiss rally on Saturday, Zelensky also blasted firms including Nestle for carrying on business as usual with Russia "even though our children are dying."

He urged Swiss companies to stop doing business in Russia and asked the country's banks to freeze funds belonging to the Kremlin elite.

Zelensky said it was “painful” that those behind the conflict had funds stashed in Switzerland.

Thousands of demonstrators who had gathered in the square in front of the Federal Palace heard Zelensky’s nine-minute speech translated in German, though technical problems interrupted the video from Kiev. 

China says 'on right side of history'

Meanwhile, tensions have escalated between the US and China over the conflict with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying that Beijing stood on the right side of history as time would tell, and that its position was in line with that of most countries. 

This came after US President Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Friday of "consequences" if Beijing gave material support to Russia's military.

"China will never accept any external coercion or pressure, and opposes any unfounded accusations and suspicions against China," Wang told reporters on Saturday evening.

Hezbollah dismisses reports of fighters in Ukraine 

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light last week for up to 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East to fight in Ukraine, prompting some Western media outlets to speculate that Hezbollah fighters and experts were being sent to fight alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, however, rejected the reports on Friday, saying, "No one from Hezbollah, neither a fighter nor an expert, went to this arena or any of the arenas of these wars."

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