KYIV (Agencies): Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Washington on Tuesday of drawing out the war in Ukraine, as explosions rocked a Russian military facility on the Kremlin-controlled peninsula of Crimea.
The first UN-chartered vessel laden with grain meanwhile left Ukraine for Africa following a hallmark deal brokered by Turkey and the UN to relieve a global food crisis.
“The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict,” Putin said, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow.
Washington is “using the people of Ukraine as cannon fodder”, he said, lashing out at the United States for supplying weapons to Kyiv.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February, anticipating little military resistance and hoping for a lightning takeover that would topple the government in Kyiv within hours.
But after failing to capture the capital, Russia s military instead has become entrenched in a protracted bout of attrition with the sprawling front line in the east and south.
The United States has provided key economic and military backing to Kyiv, in particular supplying Ukraine with long-range, precision artillery that has allowed it to strike Russian supply facilities deep inside Moscow-controlled territory.
Huge fireballs erupted at the site in Crimea early on Tuesday where ammunition was temporarily being stored and clouds of black smoke billowed into the air, images posted on social media showed.
The defence ministry said the blaze began at around 6:15 am local time (0315 GMT) at a temporary military storage site near the village of Mayskoye in the Dzhankoi district, causing ammunition to detonate.
The blasts on Tuesday come one week after at least one person was killed and five more injured in similar explosions at a Russian airbase in Crimea.
Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility for either of the incidents in Crimea, but senior officials and the military have implied Ukrainian involvement.
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