Russia has struck rail and fuel facilities in attacks in central and western Ukraine – as the US secretary of state said Russia is failing in its war aims.
In a spate of attacks, Russia targeted infrastructure far from the front line, according to Ukrainian and Russian reports.
Five train stations were hit by Russian strikes in central and western Ukraine within the same hour, the head of the state-run Ukrainian Railways said. An unspecified number of casualties were reported.
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A station in Krasne, near Lviv, was among those targeted, the region’s governor said.
One person was killed and seven were wounded when Russian missile strikes hit an oil refinery and power plant in Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, the governor of the Poltava region said. Moscow confirmed it had destroyed an oil refinery, adding that fuel depots were impacted.
Russian rockets targeted two towns in the central Vinnytsia region, causing an unspecified number of deaths and injuries, regional Governor Serhiy Borzov said.
Hundreds of civilians remain trapped in the besieged Azovstal steelworks, the last Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol, according to Ukrainian officials.
Moscow said it was opening a humanitarian corridor to let civilians out of the plant but Kyiv said no agreement had been reached and appealed to the United Nations for help in reaching one as “initiator and guarantor”.
In the Russian region of Bryansk, just north of Ukraine, a fire erupted at an oil depot, but no immediate cause was given for the blaze.
It comes as Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said the US had approved a $165m (£130m) sale of ammunition to Ukraine, along with $322m (£251m) in foreign military financing.
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“The strategy that we’ve put in place – massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure against Russia, solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in these efforts – is having real results,” he said, speaking on the border with Poland after meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“When it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding.
“Russia has sought as its principal aim to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. That has failed.”
He said Russia “sought to assert the power of its military and its economy” but “we, of course, are seeing just the opposite: a military that is dramatically underperforming, an economy – as a result of sanctions, as a result of a mass exodus from Russia – that is in shambles”.
Russia’s attempt to “divide the West and NATO” has also failed, he said.
Mr Blinken confirmed that US diplomats will start returning to Ukraine next week.
It was the first visit by a senior US official since Russia invaded Ukraine, with Mr Blinken joined by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
US wants to see ‘weakened’ Russia
Mr Austin said the US wants to see Russia “weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine”.
He said Ukraine can win if they have the “right equipment,” pledging to do “everything we can” to provide it.
He said the US raised concerns about weapons falling into the hands of Russian-backed forces in the Donbas region and said Ukrainians are “focused on this issue”.
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The new financing brings the total US security assistance to Ukraine since the invasion began to $3.7bn (£2.9bn).
The US State Department said the funding “will provide support for the capabilities Ukraine needs as Russia’s forces train their focus on the Donbas” and said the assistance will help Ukraine’s armed forces transition to more advanced weapons and air defence systems.
A further $400m (£312m) in new foreign military financing will be shared among 15 other nations in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Balkans.
US President Joe Biden will also soon announce his nominee to be ambassador to Ukraine – Bridget Brink, a career foreign service officer.
The US State Department has vowed to reopen its embassy in Lviv as soon as the situation allows.
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While the West has funnelled military equipment to Ukraine, Mr Zelenskyy has stressed repeatedly that his country needs more heavy weapons, including long-range air defence systems and warplanes.
Mr Austin said the “nature of the fight has evolved because the terrain they’re now focused on is a different type of terrain” and the US understands the need for long-range fires and tanks.
He said the US is “doing everything that we can to get him [Mr Zelenskyy] the types of support – the types of artillery and munitions – that will be effective in this stage of the fight”.
After the meeting, Mr Zelenskyy said he was “very thankful” for the American aid, praising Mr Biden for his “personal support”.
Russia warns West against sending arms to Ukraine
Russia warned the US against sending more arms to Ukraine, saying it would only increase the bloodshed.
“What the Americans are doing is pouring oil on the flames,” Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.
“I see only an attempt to raise the stakes, to aggravate the situation, to see more losses.”
He said an official diplomatic note had been sent to Washington stressing the “unacceptability of this situation” and demanding an end to the practice.