Ukraine claims to have retaken more than one thousand square kilometers (385 square miles) of territory from Russia in its southern and eastern parts in the last week as the US approved nearly $2.7 billion in additional aid.
The additional funds for Ukraine and its allies include $675 million for weaponry as announced by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a visit on Thursday to the US Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany.
The assistance consists of howitzers, ammunition, armored ambulances, and anti-tank equipment. US security assistance for Ukraine already amounts to around $13 billion.
Austin hailed the “demonstrable success” by Ukrainian forces on the battlefield. Western military support has enabled “Ukraine to resist Russia’s ongoing onslaught,” and he added that the war is at another “key moment.”
On Thursday, the Biden administration also announced that it had set aside two billion dollars in investments for long-term support to strengthen the security of Ukraine and eighteen of its neighbors, including both NATO members and non-members who are at risk of a future Russian invasion.
Ukraine claims big gains against Russia
Six months since Russia invaded, Ukraine has begun a counteroffensive in the southern part of the nation in an effort to end a military standoff and persuade faltering allies that continuing the fight is worthwhile.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his country’s forces have retaken more than one thousand square kilometers (385 sq miles) of territory in its southern and eastern areas from Russia in the last week.
Kyiv has liberated “dozens of settlements” near the north-eastern Kharkiv region so far this month, President Zelensky said in his nightly address on Thursday.
In a separate Facebook post, Ukraine’s army claimed that in the last three days alone its troops had advanced fifty kilometers (31 miles). If verified, that would mark the fastest movement of the front line since the rapid retreat of Russian forces from positions around the capital, Kyiv, in March.
The offensive southeast of Kharkiv would also bring Ukraine’s troops closer to the eastern region of Donetsk, over which Russia has maintained substantial military control since the war began six months ago.
On Friday, the Kremlin declined to comment on Kyiv’s claims to have retaken territory near Kharkiv, Reuters news agency reports.
However, some Russian officials did dispute the extent of the advances, including Kyiv’s claim to have recaptured the city of Balakliya, made in a video by Ukrainian soldiers and shared by President Zelensky.