RuMoD Says 600 Warplanes, 24,000 UAVs Destroyed In Ukraine Military Ops; US Bans Russian Uranium

According to the Ministry of Defense (RuMoD), the Russian military has destroyed 600 Ukrainian warplanes and 1,300 multiple rocket launchers since the start of the military operation in Ukraine.

“Since the start of the special military operation, the following targets have been destroyed: 600 warplanes, 274 helicopters, 24,111 unmanned aerial vehicles, 521 surface-to-air missile systems, 16,053 tanks & other armored combat vehicles, 1,300 multiple rocket launchers, 9,607 field artillery guns and mortars, and 21,753 special military motor vehicles,” RuMoD said in a statement.

Earlier, in another setback to Russia, US President Joe Biden signed into law a bipartisan bill that bans the import of enriched uranium from Russia. The move is aimed to put further pressure on Russia, which has refused to end the war in Ukraine and has instead opened a new frontier.

“Today, President Biden signed into law a historic series of actions that will strengthen our nation’s energy and economic security by reducing, and ultimately eliminating, our reliance on Russia for civilian nuclear power,” Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said in a statement.

The ban will come into effect in 90 days. However, there is a caveat. As per the new regulations, the Department of Energy (DoE) can grant waivers if there are supply issues, allowing the fuel for nuclear power reactors to be imported until 2028.

Russia is the world’s largest source of enriched uranium, accounting for around 24% of the material used in US nuclear power facilities. As Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the White House outlawed the purchase of Russian gas and oil in an attempt to cut off Russia’s external income streams. However, until now, the US reactors have been using Russia’s enriched uranium.

The announcement has rattled Russia since it has come more than two years after the invasion was launched.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told a press conference on May 14 that the US restriction on Russian uranium imports stems from its difficulty competing with Moscow’s nuclear industry, which is among the most developed in the world.

“It’s hard for the Americans to compete with us on the international market. Once it becomes difficult for them to compete, they do not disdain anything, including measures that subvert, distort, and get a crack at all the norms of international trade and this ban is ‘nothing more than unfair competition’, he said.

The press secretary of the Russian President added, “This is not critical for the Russian nuclear industry. Our nuclear industry is one of the most advanced in the world. We will continue to develop this industry.”

The delay in the ban on uranium from Russia has been attributed to the US dependence on Russian imports and apprehensions about fuel shortages.

Nuclear power in the United States - Wikipedia
Nuclear power in the United States – Wikipedia

Although the US is the world’s largest market for nuclear fuels, a US House assessment of the recently passed legislation stated that the country’s present domestic enrichment capacity could only produce 30% of the fuel needed by dozens of its reactors. The report particularly brought attention to the US dependence on “Tenex, a subsidiary of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company.”

According to Kathryn Huff, the assistant secretary for nuclear affairs at the US Department of Energy, the US has been building up its domestic uranium fuel processing capacity since 2022 in anticipation that Putin would stop selling uranium to the country to support Ukraine in the war.

The legislation that forbids the use of Russian uranium provides $2.7 billion in funding to expand the US uranium fuel industry’s capability, thus benefitting domestic production. According to the House report on the new bill, one US conversion factory was already up and running and would be able to meet roughly 40% of the US market demand in the future.

Additionally, the US will receive assistance from allies like Canada, France, and Japan, as per Huff’s statement from last week. The ban will significantly hit the Russian industry, which has already been reeling under crippling international sanctions in a war economy.

More importantly, the US ban on Russian uranium comes at a time when Russia has intensified the conflict against Ukraine and launched a fresh offensive in the Kharkiv region. The US ban, however, makes no mention of the offensive.

Russia Is Pushing With All Its  Might In Kharkiv

On May 10, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Russian soldiers had started a fresh offensive aimed at Kharkiv Oblast. “Russia began a new wave of offensive actions in (Kharkiv’s) direction. Ukraine met (Russian forces) there with our troops, brigades, and artillery,” Zelensky said during a press briefing in Kyiv.

Moscow has stepped up its attacks on Kharkiv amid rumors that it may launch an all-out offensive in the city in a bid to capture it. Russia has devastated towns and villages in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine.

In response to a fresh Russian attack in the northeast and assaults in the east with a severe weapon shortage, General Kyrylo Budanov, the chief of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency had earlier warned that “the situation is on the edge”. The General said: “Every hour this situation moves toward is critical.”

This tactic, it is believed, would enable Russia to seize the strategically significant Donbas city of Chasiv Yar, a Ukrainian stronghold situated roughly 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of Kharkiv. “All of our forces are either here [in Kharkiv] or in Chasiv Yar,” Budanov said. “I’ve used everything we have. Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone else in the reserves.”

On May 14, he stated that although the situation was beginning to stabilize in the Kharkiv area, Russia could deploy more reserves in the days ahead. Kyrylo Budanov told Ukrainian TV that small groups of assault troops from Russia’s military had also been stationed close to the northern Sumy region of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is holding strong in the face of this hostility as intense fighting rages in the city. Russia has also been constantly bombarding the city, as announced by the President in his address.

Some military observers following the conflict have even said that this invasion of Kharkiv may be worse than the first one, referring to Russia’s movement inside Kharkiv in 2022.