A Himars system

Russia has accused the US of direct involvement in the war in Ukraine for the first time.

A spokesperson for Moscow’s defence ministry alleged the US was approving targets for American-made Himars artillery used by Kyiv’s forces.

Lt Gen Igor Konashenkov said intercepted calls between Ukrainian officials revealed the link. The BBC could not independently verify this.

Russia previously accused Washington of fighting a “proxy war” in Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon said it provided the Ukrainians with “detailed, time-sensitive information to help them understand the threats they face and defend their country against Russian aggression”.

Himars is a multiple rocket system which can launch precision-guided missiles at targets as far as 70km (45 miles) away – far further than the artillery that Ukraine previously had.

They are also believed to be more accurate than their Russian equivalents.

Mr Konashenkov said: “It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all rocket attacks approved by Kyiv on residential areas and civilian infrastructure facilities in settlements of Donbas and other regions that caused mass deaths of civilians.”

Image shows graphic of Himars launcher system

In April, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said US President Joe Biden’s decision to supply Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of arms meant “Nato, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy”.

“War means war,” the 72-year-old warned.

Throughout the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has been accused of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. Last week, Ukraine accused Moscow of bombing a prison in separatist held Donetsk to cover up allegations of torture.

And the BBC has documented allegations of torture and beatings of Ukrainian prisoners by both the Russian military and security services.

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