Putin calls ATACMS transfer to Ukraine 'mistake,' admits missiles pose 'additional threat'

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Oct. 18 that the U.S. made a "great mistake" by providing Ukraine with ATACMS long-range missiles, which have reportedly dealt significant damage to Russian forces in a recent attack.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, where the Russian dictator arrived for the Belt and Road Forum, Putin admitted that the newly provided weaponry creates an "additional threat" to Russian forces.

However, the Kremlin's leader voiced confidence that the Russian military would be capable of repelling ATACMS strikes and that the long-range missiles were "fundamentally incapable of changing the situation" at the front.

According to Putin, the provision of ATACMS to Kyiv was a mistake as it would supposedly lead only to "prolonging the agony" of Ukrainians.

"And finally, a greater mistake, which is not yet apparent but very important, is that the United States is increasingly drawn into this conflict," Putin said.

After months of hesitation, the White House confirmed on Oct. 17 that it had provided Ukraine with the much-desired ATACMS.

The announcement was made shortly after Ukrainian forces reportedly used the U.S.-supplied long-range missiles to destroy nine helicopters, an air defense system, an ammunition warehouse, and airfield infrastructure in occupied Luhansk and Berdiansk.

Putin also said on Oct. 18 that Russian warplanes armed with Kinzhal missiles will begin regularly patrolling the Black Sea.

"On my instructions, the Russian Air Force begins regular patrols in the neutral zone over the Black Sea. Our MiG-31 aircraft are armed with Kinzhal weapon systems," he said.

Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles, with a speed of up to 12,000 kilometers per hour, have been used in the past in strikes against Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces managed to shoot down several of these hypersonic missiles using U.S.-supplied Patriot air defenses.

Russia strikes Zaporizhzhia with missiles.

Zaporizhzhia was targeted six times from 1:30 until 1:48 a.m. local time on Oct. 18, Governor Yurii Malashko said. At least five people were reportedly injured in the attack.

According to Kurtiev, the strikes damaged 30 high-rise buildings, 11 houses, two schools, and two medical institutions.

The southern city of Zaporizhzhia is home to roughly 700,000 people and lies less than 40 kilometers north of the front line and the Russian-occupied part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Later, it was reported that the death toll has risen to five, as more bodies were found in the rubble, the city's Acting Mayor Anatolii Kurtiev reported.

Russians strike hotel in Nikopol, injuring civilian

The Russian army launched four artillery attacks on the city of Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast on 18 October. A 36-year-old man has been injured. He is in a fair condition and will undergo treatment at home.

A hotel caught fire. The rescue worker put it out. Seven private residential buildings and four outbuildings were damaged as well.

Motor Sich company's former president Bohuslaiev, will face trial

The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), together with the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO), has completed the investigation and submitted to the court an indictment against Viacheslav Bohuslaiev, the former president of JSC Motor Sich, and Oleh Dziuba, the director of the company's Department of Foreign Trade, who are suspected of working for the Russians.

As the investigation reported, the plant management in Zaporizhzhia established transnational channels for the illegal supply of wholesale batches of Ukrainian aircraft engines and their spare parts to Russia.

The officials colluded with representatives of the Russian corporation Rostech, which is close to the Kremlin, and is one of the main weapons producers for the Russian occupying forces.

The Russians used the resulting products to produce and repair impact rotorcraft, which were used en masse for the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

It was also established that in April 2022, the ex-leader of Motor Sich deliberately blocked the delivery of a helicopter for the needs of the Chief Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defence Ministry.

United States sent about 20 ATACMS missiles to Ukraine

After many reports that a decision had been made to supply the weapons, their delivery was carried out in secrecy out of concern that Russia could attack them as they were shipped into the country. In addition, Ukraine wanted to try to catch the Russians off guard. 

Two Western officials said the United States had sent about 20 missiles to Ukraine.