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Russia says used hypersonic weapons in western Ukraine

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia used its newest Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time in Ukraine on Friday (March 18) to destroy a weapons storage site in the country’s west, the defence ministry said.

“The Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse containing missiles and aviation ammunition” in the village of Deliatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region,” the Russian defence ministry said on Saturday.

State news agency RIA Novosti said it was the first use of the Kinzhal hypersonic weapons during what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in pro-Western Ukraine.

Separately, Ukraine’s defence ministry said late on Friday it lost access to the Sea of Azov “temporarily” as invading Russian forces were tightening their grip around the Sea’s major port of Mariupol.

“The occupiers have partially succeeded in the Donetsk operational district, temporarily depriving Ukraine of access to the Sea of Azov,” Ukraine’s defence ministry said in a statement.

The ministry did not specify in its statement whether Ukraine’s forces have regained access to the Sea.

Russia said on Friday its forces were “tightening the noose” around Mariupol, where an estimated 80 per cent of the city’s homes had been damaged.

Mariupol, with its strategic location on the coast of the Sea of Azov, has been a target since the start of the war on Feb 24.

The city lies on the route between the Russian-occupied peninsula of Crimea to the west, and the Donetsk region to the east, which is partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Russia claimed as early as March 1 that its forces had cut off the Ukrainian military from the Sea of Azov.

The Ukrainian military also imposed a 38-hour curfew in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, starting at 1400 GMT (10pm Singapore) on Saturday and ending early on Monday, deputy mayor Anatoliy Kurtiev said.

“Do not go outside at this time!” he said in an online post.

The regional capital has become an important point of transit for some of the 35,000 people estimated to have fled the besieged Mariupol city in the southeast.

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