KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Britain on Thursday promised to send to Ukraine sophisticated medium-range missile systems, joining the United States and Germany in equipping the country in battle with modern weapons for shooting down planes and knocking out artillery.
Western weapons were crucial to Ukraine’s success in deterring a much larger and better-equipped Russian army during the 99th-day war. But as Russian forces approached a key city in recent days, the Ukrainian government said its fighters needed the best missile launchers to win.
Russian troops continued to strike at cities and towns overnight and tightened their grip on the eastern city of Severodonetsk. The UK Ministry of Defense said Russia had captured most of the city, one of two in Luhansk province that remained under Ukrainian control.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has said the UK will send an unspecified number of M270 launchers that can fire precision missiles at a distance of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles). He said that the Ukrainian military will be trained in the UK on the use of technology.
The British government says the decision to provide launchers has been closely agreed with the US government, which said on Wednesday that it would supply high-mobility missile systems to Ukraine.
Both missile systems are similar, but the American has wheels, and the British – also American-made – works on caterpillars.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for better weapons and has sometimes accused the West of supplying weapons too slowly. After the weapons supplied by the West helped Ukraine repel Russia’s attempts to storm the capital, Moscow shifted its focus to capturing the entire industrial region of eastern Ukraine, Donbass.
Military analysts believe that Russia hopes to capture the Donbass before any weapons that can break the course. The Pentagon will need at least three weeks to withdraw high-precision weapons and trained U.S. troops to the battlefield. But Deputy Defense Minister Colin Cal said he believes they will arrive in time to change the situation.
Kyiv is also going to receive a diplomatic stimulus with the official installation of a new US ambassador to Ukraine. U.S. Ambassador Bridget Brink was scheduled to present her credentials to Zelensky on Thursday.
Brink will become Washington’s first ambassador to Kyiv after former US President Donald Trump abruptly expelled Ambassador Marie Jovanovic in 2019. She later became a key figure in Trump’s first impeachment proceedings.
Ahead of Senate approval last month, Brink promised senators she would work to make Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “strategic failure.” Her work in Kyiv is expected to focus on coordinating Western arms supplies.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Moscow did not trust assurances that Ukraine would not use its new missile launchers to fire on Russian territory. “We believe that the United States is deliberately and diligently adding fuel to the fire,” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Ukraine’s repeated desire for more weapons “a direct provocation aimed at involving the West in hostilities.” He warned that US-supplied multiple rocket launchers would increase the risk of escalating the conflict.
Meanwhile, Russian troops continued to bomb the Donbass and other parts of Ukraine, and ground forces advanced in the east,
The governor of the region said that Russian forces now control 80% of Severodonetsk, a city that is key to Moscow’s efforts to complete the capture of Donbass. Russian-backed Ukrainian troops and separatists fought in the eastern region for eight years, and the separatists held areas until the Russian invasion.
According to him, the only other city in Luhansk province that the Russians have not yet captured – Lisichansk, is still completely under the control of Ukraine, but is likely to be the next goal. The two cities are separated by a river.
Moscow forces also stormed the city of Kamyshuvakha in the southeastern Zaporozhye region, much of which is under Russian control, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Thursday.
In the western Lviv region, a Russian missile hit railway lines that were a key channel for Western arms supplies and other supplies, officials said.
Zelensky said that Ukraine loses in battle from 60 to 100 troops a day.
In his nightly video, he drew attention to the children, saying 243 of them had died in the war, 446 had been wounded and 139 were missing. The real numbers could be higher, he added, as his government does not have a complete picture of areas under Russian occupation.
Zelensky also said that among the Ukrainians forcibly deported to Russia and scattered across this vast country, there are 200,000 children: “The goal of this criminal policy is not just to steal people, but to make deportees forget about Ukraine and cannot return.” .
This was announced by Bekataros from the Ukrainian Slavyansk. Yuras Karmanov in Lviv, Ukraine, Ricardo Mazalan in Kyiv, and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.
Follow the coverage of the AP war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine