The European Union’s top general said Friday that Russia is taking the war in Ukraine into a “different stage,” launching indiscriminate attacks against civilians and cities, as a reaction to recent decisions by NATO allies to send advanced armaments to Ukraine in support of its war effort.
Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, European External Action Service Secretary-General Stefano Sannino, told reporters Russia is no longer focused on military targets but is making indiscriminate attacks on cities and people.
“I think that this latest development in terms of armed supply is just an evolution of the situation and of the way Russia started moving the war into a different stage,” he said.
“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has moved from a concept of [a] special [military] operation to a concept now of a war against NATO and the West,” Sannino noted.
The comments came as Germany and the United States announced this week they will send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine, hoping to match the fire power Russia has on the ground.
Seemingly in response, Ukraine authorities report Russia launched new missile attacks on several Ukraine locations, killing 11 people Thursday and 10 more on Friday, wounding dozens of others.
The EU general said the new supplies from the West are not an escalation, but rather an effort to give Ukraine a chance to defend itself. He said the developments have forced Putin to change his initial narrative, in which he described the invasion as a “special operation” to free Ukraine from a Nazi regime.
“Now we are speaking about a war with NATO and the West. Different story,” Sannino said.
In his daily address to the nation Thursday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for the growing number of countries pledging advanced weaponry, including tanks, while at the same time pressing the need to hasten delivery of the promised weapons systems.
Zelenskyy said the only way to stop “this Russian aggression” is with “adequate weapons.” He emphasized, “The terrorist state will not understand anything else.”
The Ukrainian president also credited western supplies for added protection from the latest attacks. “Today, thanks to the air defense systems provided to Ukraine and the professionalism of our warriors, we managed to shoot down most of the Russian missiles and Shaheds,” Zelenskyy said in his address.
“Unfortunately, it is difficult to provide 100% protection with air defense alone. Especially when terrorists use ballistic missiles,” he added.
In a post to his Telegram social media account, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said, “Moscow's forces continued to target Ukraine's energy infrastructure in the depth of winter, an effort to demoralize Ukrainians. The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat."
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person was killed in the Ukrainian capital and two more were wounded when a missile hit a building. The state prosecutor general's office said three people were killed in a Russian strike on infrastructure in Zaporizhzhia, where Europe's biggest nuclear plant is located, and there were reports of strikes in the Vinnytsia region in western Ukraine and outside Odesa.
Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.