KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Senior U.S. officials pledged Monday to help Ukraine win its fight against Russia following face-to-face talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, while Britain said said that Moscow had yet to achieve a significant breakthrough in its offensive in the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine.
In meetings with Zelenskyy, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the United States had approved a $165 million munitions sale for the war effort. Ukraine, as well as over $300 million in foreign military funding.
“The strategy we have put in place – massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure against Russia, solidarity with more than 30 countries committed to these efforts – is delivering real results,” Blinken told reporters in Poland the day after his meeting with Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials.
“As far as Russia’s war aims are concerned, Russia is failing. Ukraine succeeds. Russia has sought as its main objective to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. It failed.
As the fighting continued, Russia struck deep into Ukraine, targeting infrastructure away from the frontline, according to Ukrainian and Russian reports.
In a series of strikes on Ukraine’s railways, a Russian missile hit a facility near Krasne, outside the city of Lviv, on Monday morning, causing a fire, the region’s governor said. A total of five railway facilities in central and western Ukraine were hit by Russian strikes, said Oleksandr Kamyshin, the head of Ukraine’s state-run railways.
Meanwhile, Serhiy Borzov, the governor of Ukraine’s central Vinnytsia region, said there had been casualties after rocket fire targeted at “critical infrastructure”. It was unclear whether these strikes were related to the attacks on the railroads.
Russia also destroyed an oil refinery in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, as well as fuel depots, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Monday.
He added that other long-range missile strikes overnight hit troop concentrations and arms and ammunition depots in Barvinkove and Nova Dmytrivka in the Kharkiv region near the Russian border. In total, he said Russian warplanes destroyed 56 Ukrainian targets.
In northern Ukraine, in the Russian region of Bryansk, a fire broke out early Monday at an oil depot, but no immediate cause was given for the oil storage tanks burning.
NASA satellites tracking the fires showed something burning at coordinates matching a Rosneft facility about 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of the Ukrainian border. Moscow has previously blamed Ukraine for the attacks in Bryansk.
Following the meeting with Blinken and Austin, Zelenskyy said he was “very grateful” for American assistance and particularly praised US President Joe Biden for his “personal support”.
“The priorities are weapons and the support of the United States of America and our partners, the European leaders, in terms of strength and support of our army in certain areas,” the Ukrainian president said. “The second issue is the policy of sanctions against the Russian Federation because of the large-scale invasion and all the terror they have committed in Ukraine.”
The three-hour meeting took place on Sunday, the 60th day since the start of the invasion, as Ukraine pressured the West for stronger weapons against Russia’s campaign in the Donbass region, in eastern Ukraine, where forces from Moscow sought to dislodge the last Ukrainian troops in the devastated port city of Mariupol.
The British Ministry of Defense said on Monday that Ukrainian troops holed up in a steelworks in the strategic town were pinning down Russian forces and preventing them from being added to the offensive elsewhere in Donbass.
“Many Russian units remain fixed in the city and cannot be redeployed,” the ministry said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Ukraine’s defense of Mariupol has also exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness.”
The ministry added that, so far, Russia has made only “minor progress in some areas since focusing on the full occupation of Donbass.”
“Without sufficient logistical and combat support assets in place, Russia has yet to achieve a significant breakthrough,” the ministry said.
With Russia’s shift in focus, Austin said Ukraine’s military needs were changing and Zelenskyy was now focusing on more tanks, artillery and other ammunition.
“The nature of the fight has evolved because the terrain they’re focusing on now is a different type of terrain, so they need long-range shots,” Austin said.
Asked what the United States considers a success, Austin said that “we want to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country capable of protecting its sovereign territory, we want to see Russia weakened to the point where it does not can’t do things like invade Ukraine.
On the diplomatic level, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, was to go to Turkey on Monday, then to Moscow and kyiv. Zelenskyy said it was a mistake for Guterres to travel to Russia before Ukraine.
“Why? Transmit signals from Russia? What should we be looking for?” Zelenskyy said on Saturday. “There are no corpses strewn on Kutuzovsky Prospect,” he said, referring to the one of the main avenues of Moscow.
Blinken said he spoke with Guterres on Friday before the trip.
“We expect him to send a very loud and clear message to Vladimir Putin, which is the need to end this war now,” he said.
In a surge of support for Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron comfortably won a second term on Sunday over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who had pledged to dilute France’s ties with the Union. Europe and NATO. Le Pen had also spoken out against EU sanctions on Russian energy and had come under scrutiny during the campaign because of his previous friendship with the Kremlin.
Since failing to capture kyiv, the Russians have sought to take full control of Donbass, the industrial heartland of the east, where Moscow-backed separatists controlled some territory before the war.
For the Donbass offensive, Russia gathered troops who fought around kyiv and in northern Ukraine. The UK Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian forces repelled numerous assaults last week and “inflicted significant costs on Russian forces”.
South of the Donbass, in the strategic port city of Mariupol, a small pocket of Ukrainian troops continues to stand up to Russian forces in the Azovstal Steelworks, a sprawling installation on the waterfront.
Mariupol has endured heavy fighting since the start of the war due to its location on the Sea of Azov. Its capture would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, free up Russian troops to fight elsewhere and allow Moscow to establish a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Over the weekend, Russian forces launched new airstrikes on the steelworks in an attempt to dislodge the approximately 2,000 fighters inside. About 1,000 civilians also took refuge in the factory.
New Planet Labs PBC satellite images, taken on Sunday, show destroyed buildings across the steel mill and smoke rising from an area. The roofs have gaping holes; a soccer field is cratered by incoming fire.
It is believed that more than 100,000 people – against a pre-war population of around 430,000 – remained in Mariupol with little food, water or heating. Ukrainian authorities estimate that more than 20,000 civilians were killed. Recent satellite images showed what appeared to be mass graves west and east of Mariupol.
Associated Press journalists Yesica Fisch in Sloviansk, Ukraine, Mstyslav Chernov and Felipe Dana in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Yuras Karmanau and Jon Gambrell in Lviv, Cara Anna, Inna Varenytsia and Oleksandr Stashevskyi in Kyiv and AP staff from around the world have contributed.
Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
David Keyton, The Associated Press