(Reuters) -Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Saturday, saying the arms would bolster forces fighting Russia’s invasion.
“The coastal defence of our country will not only be strengthened by Harpoon missiles – they will be used by trained Ukrainian teams,” Reznikov wrote on his Facebook page.
He said Harpoon shore-to-ship missiles would be operated alongside Ukrainian Neptune missiles in the defence of the country’s coast including the southern port of Odesa.
Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration in southern Ukraine, said in an online post that “so many Harpoons have been handed over to us that we can sink the entire Russian Black Sea Fleet. Why not?”
Last month the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, sank after what Ukraine says was an anti-ship missile attack. Moscow says a fire sparked an ammunition blast.
After launching its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russia imposed a naval blockade of Ukrainian ports, hampering vital grain exports. It has also used its Black Sea fleet to launch missile attacks against Ukraine.
Reznikov said Ukraine had also received a range of heavy artillery pieces, including modified U.S.-made M109 self-propelled howitzers that will allow the Ukrainian military to strike targets from longer distances.
Ukraine says it wants to secure deliveries of U.S.-made long-range M270 multiple-rocket launchers (MLRS).
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine, working to boost weapons supplies, was approaching the point where it would outnumber the Russians both technologically and in terms of its ability to strike.
“Of course, a lot depends on our partners and their readiness to provide Ukraine with everything necessary to protect freedom. And I expect good news on this next week,” he said in a late-night video, without giving details.
Russia says its forces are on a special operation to demilitarise Ukraine and rid it of radical anti-Russian nationalists. Ukraine and its allies call that a false pretext to for invading Ukraine.
Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic and David LjunggrenEditing by Helen Popper and Jonathan Oatis