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Russia says its forces shot down US-made HARM missiles over Belgorod

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)
The file photo shows an AGM-88 HARM High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile mounted beneath the wing of a 37th Tactical Fighter Wing F-4G Phantom II aircraft.

Russia says its air defense forces have shot down four US-made HARM missiles over the western oblast of Belgorod.

In a statement issued on Monday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said all the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) were shot down during the previous 24 hours. “Four American 'Harm' anti-radar missiles were shot down in the airspace over the Belgorod region.”

Washington sent that type of missiles to Ukraine in mid-August. The projectiles are reportedly used by Ukraine’s MiG-29 and Su-27 aircraft.

Belgorod's governor says at least one person was killed and several people were injured by Ukrainian shelling in the region on Sunday morning.

Furthermore, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said air defense forces also managed to shoot down several combat drones sent by Ukraine. “In the past 24 hours, air defense capabilities shot down eight Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in the areas of the settlements of Melovatka, Ploshchanka and Nizhnyaya Duvanka in the Luhansk People’s Republic, Volnovakha and Nikolayevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Priyutnoye in the Zaporozhye region and Kairy in the Kherson region.”

Donetsk and Luhansk, located in eastern Ukraine, as well as Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south of the ex-Soviet republic, joined the Russian Federation following referendums held in the regions back in September.

“In addition, six rockets from HIMARS and Uragan multiple-launch rocket systems were intercepted in the areas of the settlements of Solodke, Debaltseve in the Donetsk People's Republic, Kreminna in the Luhansk People's Republic and Lyubymivka in Zaporizhzhia region,” Konashenkov said.

Russia started what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, with the declared aim of "de-Nazifying" the country. Since the onset of the war, the United States and its European allies have imposed waves of unprecedented economic sanctions against Moscow while supplying large consignments of heavy weaponry to Kiev. The Kremlin says the sanctions and the Western military assistance will prolong the war.

Russia, China to hold joint naval drills

Separately on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said Russia and China would hold joint naval drills between December 21 and 27. The military maneuvers, which have been an annual undertaking since 2012, will involve missile and artillery firing in the East China Sea. “The main purpose of the exercises is to strengthen naval cooperation between Russia and China, and maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” the ministry stated.

Shortly prior to the onset of the war, Moscow and Beijing signed a "no limits" strategic partnership.

The ministry said four of its vessels would take part in the drills – including the Varyag missile cruiser – while six Chinese vessels would take part, along with aircraft and helicopters from both sides.

Late last month, air forces of the two sides carried out joint military exercises in the Asia-Pacific region. Russia and China have carried out several other drills in recent years, including naval exercises in the Sea of Japan and East China Sea. Russian troops were deployed to Chinese territory for maneuvers for the first time in 2021.

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