On March 13 a Russian precision strike on military facilities near Ukraine’s western borders reportedly killed several dozen Western combatants and trainers supporting the Ukrainian war effort. This comes as Russia has expanded strikes to increasing engage targets in Ukraine’s western regions after strengthening its position in the largely Russian speaking east, and follows warnings from the Russian Defence Ministry that Western supplies entering Ukraine could be targeted. The Defence Ministry reported liquidation of “up to 180 foreign mercenaries,” although Russian reports have consistently described Western volunteers who have travelled to fight for ideological reasons as mercenaries. The strike, conducted with use of “high-precision long-range weapons,” and targeted “the training centres of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” in the village of Starichi and at the Yavoriv polygon. These facilities served as “a base for the training and combat coordination of foreign mercenaries before they were sent to the combat zones to fight against Russian military personnel,” and stored “weapons and military equipment coming from foreign countries.”
“As a result of the strike, up to 180 foreign mercenaries and a large quantity of foreign weapons were destroyed,” the Defence Ministry elaborated, stressing that foreign fighters arriving in Ukraine “would continue” to be targeted. A wide range of weapons have been used for precision strikes by Russian forces, notably including Kalibr naval cruise missiles and Iskander hypersonic ballistic missiles. Ukraine’s military situation remains tenuous, with its air bases and aircraft suffering heavy losses and Kiev showing growing signs of desperation. Ukrainian calls for direct Western military intervention have not been heeded, and with supplies and personnel from Western countries being exposed to attacks even as far west as the border regions the country may well face greater isolation as foreign parties become more reluctant to send support.