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Biden to send Ukraine more weapons

by The Associated Press | June 16, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
A ruined tank remains on a road in Lypivka, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is spreading a deadly litter of mines, bombs and other explosive devices that will endanger civilian lives and limbs long after the fighting stops. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- The Russian military said it used long-range missiles Wednesday to destroy a depot in the western Lviv region of Ukraine where ammunition for NATO-supplied weapons was stored, and the governor of a key eastern city acknowledged that Russian forces are advancing in heavy fighting.

The battle for Sievierodonetsk in Ukraine's eastern Donbas area has become the focus of Russia's offensive in recent weeks.

Russia-backed separatists accused Ukrainian forces of sabotaging an evacuation of civilians from the city's besieged Azot chemical plant, where about 500 civilians and an unknown number of Ukrainian fighters are believed to be sheltering from missile attacks. It wasn't possible to verify that claim.

In the Lviv region near the border with NATO member Poland, Russian forces used high-precision Kalibr missiles to destroy the depot near the town of Zolochiv, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. Konashenkov said shells for M777 howitzers, a type supplied by the United States, were stored there. He said four howitzers were destroyed elsewhere and that Russian airstrikes also destroyed Ukrainian "aviation equipment" at a military aerodrome in the southern Mykolaiv region.

While focusing most of their attacks on eastern Ukraine, where they are trying to capture large swaths of territory, Russian forces have also been hitting more specific targets elsewhere, using high-precision missiles to disrupt the international supply of weapons and destroy military infrastructure. Civilian infrastructure has been bombarded as well, even though Russian officials have claimed they're only targeting military facilities.

In response, President Joe Biden said Wednesday the U.S. will send another $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine, the largest single tranche of weapons and equipment since the war began. The aid will include anti-ship missile launchers, howitzers and more rounds for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems -- all key weapons systems that Ukrainian leaders have urgently requested.

In recent days, Ukrainian officials have spoken of the heavy human cost of the war, with Kyiv's forces outgunned and outnumbered in the east.

"The losses, unfortunately, are painful, but we have to hold out," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. "The more losses the enemy suffers there, the less strength it will have to continue the aggression. Therefore, the Donbas is key to determining who will dominate in the coming weeks."

Meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chair of Russia's Security Council, ominously suggested that Russia appears intent on not just claiming territory but eliminating Ukraine as a nation. In a Telegram post, he wrote that he saw Ukraine wants to receive liquefied natural gas from its "overseas masters" with payment due in two years.

He added: "But there's a question. Who said that in two years, Ukraine will even exist on the map?"

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, responded on Twitter: "Ukraine has been and will be. Where will Medvedev be in two years? That's the question."

photo The gutted remains of a tank lie by a road in Lypivka, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
photo Paramedics push an elderly woman on a gurney into a specially equipped medical train run by Doctors Without Borders to evacuate patients and wounded from the war hit area, in Pokrovsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
photo Tetiana Kutsenko stands outside her home that was occupied by Russian soldiers in Makariv, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. When Kutsenko got back her home that Russian troops had occupied, she found bloodstains and an apparent bullet hole on the bathroom floor and tripwires in her back yard. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
photo Tetiana Kutsenko stands outside her home that was occupied by Russian soldiers in Makariv, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. When Kutsenko got back her home that Russian troops had occupied, she found bloodstains and an apparent bullet hole on the bathroom floor and tripwires in her back yard. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
photo Weaponry lay beside a road near Makariv, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is spreading a deadly litter of mines, bombs and other explosive devices that will endanger civilian lives and limbs long after the fighting stops. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
photo U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attends the Ukraine Defense Contact group meeting ahead of a NATO defense ministers' meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. NATO defense ministers, attending a two-day meeting starting Wednesday, will discuss beefing up weapons supplies to Ukraine, and Sweden and Finland's applications to join the transatlantic military alliance. (Yves Herman, Pool Photo via AP)
photo From left, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste A. Wallander, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and Ukrainian Lieutenant General Levgen Moisuk attend the Ukraine Defense Contact group meeting ahead of a NATO defense ministers' meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. NATO defense ministers, attending a two-day meeting starting Wednesday, will discuss beefing up weapons supplies to Ukraine, and Sweden and Finland's applications to join the transatlantic military alliance. (Yves Herman, Pool Photo via AP)
photo French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to French soldiers at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near the city of Constanta, Romania, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. French President Emmanuel Macron is set to hold bilateral talks with officials and meet with French troops who are part of NATO's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. France has around 500 soldiers deployed in Romania and has been a key player in NATO's bolstering of forces on the alliance's eastern flank following Russia's invasion on Feb. 24. (Yoan Valat, Pool via AP)
photo French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near Constanta, Romania, Wednesday, June 15 2022. France has around 500 soldiers deployed in Romania and has been a key player in NATO's bolstering of forces on the alliance's eastern flank following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. (Yoan Valat, Pool via AP)

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