US announces $275M in new military aid for Ukraine

The United States will provide a new $275 million military aid package for Ukraine to help the beleaguered country repel Russia’s assault on Kharkiv, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Friday.

The package includes ammunition for HIMARS, 155 mm and 105 mm artillery rounds, missiles, anti-armor systems and precision aerial munitions, the State Department said.

“Assistance from previous packages has already made it to the front lines, and we will move this new assistance as quickly as possible so the Ukrainian military can use it to defend their territory and protect the Ukrainian people,” the statement said.

In his nightly video address Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he visited Kharkiv earlier in the day and met with military officials, heads of special services, and regional and city authorities.

Zelenskyy noted that Ukrainian forces took combat control of border areas in northern parts of Kharkiv where Russian troops had attacked this month.

His comments differed from those of Viktor Vodolatsky, a member of Russia’s State Duma, or lower house of parliament. Vodolatsky was quoted by the Tass news agency as saying Russian forces controlled more than half the territory of the town of Vovchansk, 5 kilometers inside the Ukrainian border.

Vodolatsky was quoted as saying that once Vovchansk was secured, Russian forces would target three cities in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region — Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Pokrovsk.

Reuters was unable to independently verify battlefield accounts from either side.

Russia struck trains and tracks and damaged buildings in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region as part of a coordinated counteroffensive against eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s national railway operator, Ukrzaliznytsia, said there were no injuries reported from the Russian attacks on the railway, but local officials said Friday that they were evacuating children from the area of Kharkiv, which is has been barraged by Russian forces.

Ukrainian officials announced on Friday the mandatory evacuation over the next 60 days of 123 orphans and children living without their parents in the area.

Authorities have evacuated more than 11,000 people from the Kharkiv region since Russia mounted an offensive there on May 10, regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

Russia’s offensive aims to test Ukrainian defenses in the Kharkiv region and further south in the Donetsk region while also launching incursions in the northern Sumy and Chernihiv regions.

Russia’s new advances are stretching Ukraine’s depleted military thin.

Destroying the train network adds more strain on the already outmanned and outgunned Ukrainian army after more than two years of warfare in the area.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he wants to create a “buffer zone” in the Kharkiv region to prevent Ukrainian cross-border attacks.

Ukrainian officials said Russian attacks killed at least seven people Thursday and injured at least 28 others in the city of Kharkiv.

Zelenskyy said Thursday that the attack was “extremely cruel.” He also expressed his exasperation at not getting enough air defense systems from Kyiv’s Western allies to defend Ukraine against such attacks.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba echoed Zelenskyy, saying the assault highlighted Ukraine’s urgent need for additional U.S.-made Patriot air defense systems to protect Ukrainians from aerial bombardments.

“Unfortunately, mere words of solidarity do not intercept Russian missiles,” he wrote on the social media platform X.

Syniehubov, the Kharkiv region governor, said on Telegram that Russia had struck the area at least 15 times.

Kharkiv, a city of about 1 million people and the capital of the region of the same name, is about 19 kilometers from the Russian border.

In western Russia’s Belgorod region, officials reported damage Thursday from Ukrainian aerial attacks.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it had destroyed 35 Ukrainian rockets and three aerial drones over Belgorod.

Belgorod regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram that Ukrainian attacks had damaged a building and sparked a fire in Belgorod city.

Gladkov also reported damage to multiple houses in two villages in the region.

Belgorod is located along the Russia-Ukraine border and is a frequent target of Ukrainian attacks.

Later Thursday, the head of the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula said that two bystanders had been killed by a Ukrainian missile attack near the area’s main administrative center, Simferopol.

Zelenskyy is set to attend the meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations in June to make a new appeal for more aid, according to Thursday media reports.

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