West Promises Ukraine More Guns and Better Guns to Repel Russia

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Western nations have promised increasingly advanced weaponry to bolster Ukraine’s defense as its troops battle a crushing Russian offensive which was closing in on capturing a key city to the east.

Germany said on Wednesday it would supply Ukraine with modern anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems, and the United States would unveil a new weapons package later today, this will include medium-range high-tech rocket systems.

The Kremlin spokesman told reporters on Wednesday that the United States was “pouring oil on the fire”.

Western weapons were essential to Ukraine’s success in thwarting the much larger and better equipped Russian military – thwarting its initial efforts to take the capital and forcing Moscow to focus instead on the eastern industrial region of Donbass.

But as the war drags on and Russia bombs cities in its gradual eastward advance, Ukraine has repeatedly pleaded for more and better weapons. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has at times criticized the West for being slow in shipping weapons – and military analysts have said Russia hopes to invade Donbass before weapons arrive that could turn the tide.

Germany is particularly criticized, both at home and with allies abroad, that it is not doing enough.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told lawmakers the IRIS-T SLM surface-to-air missiles he will send are the country’s most modern air defense system. They can operate at longer ranges than the Cold War-era anti-aircraft vehicles they previously provided.

“With this, we will enable Ukraine to defend an entire city against Russian air attacks,” he said. Radar systems sent by Germany will help Ukraine locate enemy artillery.

Scholz said Germany and the United States were coordinating their actions.

In addition to the rocket systems they promised, the US package will include helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, tactical vehicles, spare parts and more, two senior administration officials said Tuesday. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the package before it was officially unveiled.

An official noted that the advanced rocket systems will give Ukrainian forces greater precision in targeting Russian assets inside Ukraine.

Moscow views US plans to supply more weapons as “negative”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, saying the Kremlin did not trust assurances from Kyiv that the rockets would not be used to attack Russia.

“We believe the United States is deliberately and diligently throwing oil on the fire,” Peskov said.

The announcements come as a regional governor said Russian forces now control 70% of Sievierodonetsk, a city that is key to Moscow’s efforts to complete their capture of Donbass, where Ukrainian and Russian-backed separatists been beaten for years and where the separatists already held swathes of territory.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said in a message on the Telegram messaging app that some Ukrainian troops withdrew from the city, although he later told The Associated Press that the remaining troops beat in the streets.

The only other city of Luhansk the Russians have yet to capture, Lysychansk, is still “fully” under Ukrainian control, he said – but it would likely be next.

“If the Russians manage to take full control of Sievierodonetsk within two to three days, they will start installing artillery and mortars and bombard Lysychansk more intensively,” Haidai said.

Zelenskyy, meanwhile. said the country is losing between 60 and 100 soldiers a day in the fighting and another 500 are injured.

He told US television channel Newsmax on Tuesday evening that “the most difficult situation is in eastern Ukraine and southern Donetsk and Luhansk”, two regions that make up Donbass.

In southern Ukraine, a regional governor sounded more positive, saying Russian troops were retreating and blowing up bridges to prevent a possible Ukrainian advance. Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, said in messages on Telegram on Wednesday that Russia was on the defensive.

“They are afraid of a counterattack from the Ukrainian army,” Kim wrote. He did not specify where the retreat was taking place. Parts of the Mykolayiv region that have been held by Russian forces in recent days are close to the major Russian-held city of Kherson.

Zelenskyy said in his evening speech that there had been “some success in the direction of Kherson” for Ukraine.

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Jordans reported from Berlin. Associated Press writers Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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