Britain pledges missiles to Ukraine; new US ambassador in Kyiv

Kyiv – Britain on Thursday vowed to send sophisticated medium-range missile systems to Ukraine and join forces with the United States and Germany to arm the embattled nation with advanced weapons to shoot down planes and neutralize artillery.

Western weapons were critical to Ukraine’s success in holding off Russia’s much larger and better-equipped military during a war now in its 99th day. But as Russian forces closed in on a key city in recent days, Ukraine’s government said its fighters needed better rocket launchers to prevail.

Russian troops continued to strike To conquer cities and towns overnight and to get a firmer grip on the eastern city of Sievarodonetsk. Britain’s Defense Ministry reported that Russia had taken most of the city, one of two in Luhansk province that remained under Ukrainian control.

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UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain will send an unspecified number of M270 launchers, capable of launching precision-guided missiles up to 80 kilometers (50 miles). Ukrainian troops are being trained in Britain to use the equipment, he said.

The British government says the decision to provide the launchers was closely coordinated with the US government, which said on Wednesday it will supply Ukraine with highly mobile artillery missile systems.

The two missile systems are similar, although the American is on wheels while the British – also built in the US – runs on rails.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for more and better weapons, sometimes accusing the West of being too slow in providing them. After Western-supplied arms helped Ukraine fend off Russian attempts to storm the capital, Moscow shifted its focus to conquering the entire industrial Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

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Military analysts believe Russia is hoping to overrun the Donbass before weapons arrive that could turn the tide. It will take at least three weeks to get US precision weapons and trained troops onto the battlefield, the Pentagon said. But Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl said he believes they will arrive in time to turn the tide of battle.

Kyiv will also get a diplomatic boost with the formal installation of a new US ambassador to Ukraine. US Ambassador Bridget Brink was scheduled to present her credentials to Zelenskyy on Thursday.

Brink will become Washington’s first ambassador to Kyiv since former US President Donald Trump abruptly ousted Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in 2019. She later became a key figure in Trump’s first impeachment trial.

Ahead of their confirmation by the Senate last month Brink promised senators She would work to make Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “strategic failure.” Your work in Kyiv is expected to focus on coordinating Western arms shipments.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday Moscow does not trust assurances that Ukraine will not use its new rocket launchers to fire on Russian territory. “We believe the US is deliberately and diligently adding fuel to the fire,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Ukraine’s repeated push for more weapons a “direct provocation intended to draw the West into the fighting.” He warned that US-supplied multiple rocket launchers would increase the risk of a widespread conflict.

Meanwhile, Russian forces continued their bombardment of Donbass and other parts of Ukraine, while ground forces slowly advanced to the east.

A regional governor said Russian forces now control 80% of Sievierodonetsk, a city that is key to Moscow’s efforts to complete its conquest of Donbass. Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists have been fighting in the eastern region for eight years, and the separatists held large areas before the Russian invasion.

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The only other city in Luhansk province the Russians have yet to capture, Lysychansk, is still fully under Ukrainian control, he said, but will likely be the next target. The two cities are separated by a river.

Moscow’s forces also stormed the town of Komyshuvakha in the southeastern Zaporizhia region, much of which is under Russian control, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Thursday.

In the western Lviv region, a Russian missile struck railway lines that were a key conduit for the delivery of western arms and other supplies, officials said.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine was losing between 60 and 100 soldiers in the fighting every day.

In his nightly video address, he focused on children and said 243 of them were killed in the war, 446 were wounded and 139 were missing. The actual numbers could be higher, he added, as his government does not have a complete picture of the Russian-occupied territories.

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Zelenskyi also said that 200,000 children are among the Ukrainians who were forcibly taken to Russia and distributed across this vast country: “The purpose of this criminal policy is not just to steal people, but to trick those who are deported into doing so to forget Ukraine and not be able to return.”

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Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.

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

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/06/02/uk-pledges-missiles-to-ukraine-new-us-ambassador-in-kyiv/ Britain pledges missiles to Ukraine; new US ambassador in Kyiv

Sarah Y. Kim

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