Senior US officials on Monday promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hundreds of millions of dollars in new aid during the highest-profile US visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began two months ago, as Britain said on Monday that Moscow has not yet made significant progress in its offensive in eastern Ukraine.
In meetings with Zelenskyy in kyiv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the government had authorized a $165 million sale of ammunition for the war in Ukraine. , as well as more than $300 million in foreign military financing.
The announcements were made on Sunday, the 60th day since the invasion began, as Ukraine pressed the West to provide more powerful weapons with which to deal with the Russian campaign in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Moscow forces try to expel the last Ukrainian troops in the battered port of Mariupol.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that Ukrainian troops entrenched in a steel plant in the strategic city were keeping Russian forces busy and preventing them from joining the offensive elsewhere in Donbas.
“Many Russian units remain centered in the city and cannot move,” the ministry said in a report posted on Twitter. “The Ukrainian defense of Mariupol has also exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness.”
For now, the ministry added, Russia has only made “minor progress in some areas since it turned its attention to the full occupation of Donbas.”
“Without sufficient combat support and logistical enablers, Russia has yet to make significant progress,” the report noted.
On the diplomatic front, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, was scheduled to travel to Turkey on Monday and then to Moscow and kyiv. Zelenskyy said it was a mistake for Guterres to visit Russia before Ukraine.
“So that? To pass signals from Russia? What should we look for?” the president asked on Saturday. “Kutuzovsky Avenue is not littered with corpses,” referring to one of Moscow’s main thoroughfares.
In a push for support for Ukraine, France’s President Emmanuel Macron handily won a second term on Sunday over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen, who had vowed to cut France’s ties with the Union. Europe and NATO. Le Pen had also criticized European sanctions on Russian energy and was questioned during the campaign for her previous cordiality with the Kremlin.
Macron’s victory was hailed by France’s EU allies as a reassuring gesture of stability and continued support for Ukraine. France has played a major role in international efforts to punish Russia with sanctions and provide weapons systems to Ukraine.
“We have a lot to do and the war in Ukraine reminds us that we live in tragic times in which France must make itself heard,” Macron told an enthusiastic audience in his victory speech.
In northern Ukraine, on the Russian side of the border, a fire broke out at a fuel depot on Monday, though Russia’s Tass news agency did not say at one point what caused the fire in the fuel tanks.
NASA satellites that monitor fires identified a fire at coordinates that matched a Rosneft facility about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of the Ukrainian border. Moscow has accused Ukraine of attacks in Russia’s Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine.
After a failed attempt to take kyiv, the Russians have focused on taking full control of Donbas, the industrial heartland in the east of the country and where Russian-backed separatists already controlled territory before the war.
For the offensive in Donbas, Russia has assembled troops who fought outside kyiv and in northern Ukraine. The British Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian forces had repelled numerous attacks in the past week and “inflicted a significant cost on Russian forces”.
In southern Donbas, in the strategic port city of Mariupol, a small group of Ukrainian troops are still holding out against Russian forces at the Azovstal metallurgical plant, a huge complex along the coast.
Mariupol has suffered from heavy fighting since the start of the war due to its location on the Sea of Azov. Its capture would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, free up Russian troops to fight elsewhere and allow Moscow to establish a land connection with the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
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