Ukraine latest: Numerous Bakhmut attacks still being repelled, says Kyiv
- By Jaroslav Lukiv & Sam Hancock
- BBC News
The Ukrainian military said numerous attacks had been repelled in the region of eastern Donetsk in the past 24 hours.
Russian forces claim they are about to take the eastern town of Bakhmut, which has been the focus of intense fighting for many months.
The head of Russia’s Wagner Private Army claims it is “virtually surrounded” with limited escape routes.
The US has announced a further US$400m (£333m) in military aid to boost Kiev’s depleted stockpiles of ammunition.
The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, visited Bakhmut on Friday to meet with local commanders on how to strengthen front-line troops.
Russian troops have been trying to take the city for over six months.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned this week that the situation on the Eastern Front was becoming “more and more difficult”.
A major concern for Ukraine is its ever-declining stockpiles of ammunition, as the high-intensity war with Russia shows no signs of slowing down.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the country’s latest package includes high-precision Himar artillery missiles and howitzers “which Ukraine uses so effectively.”
President Zelenskyi previously stressed that artillery and shells would be needed to “stop Russia”.
The US is also sending tactical bridges ahead of Ukraine’s expected offensive.
The delivery of such equipment, allowing armored vehicles to cross rivers and ditches, comes as a number of Ukrainian military officials and experts have suggested the operation could be launched in the coming weeks.
Separately, a partial evacuation was ordered on Thursday in the northeastern city of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region, which was liberated from Russian occupation last September.
In a statement on Friday, Mr Blinken said: “This military aid package includes more ammunition for the US-supplied Himars and howitzers that Ukraine is using so effectively to defend itself.”
He added that Washington will also send “munitions for Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Armored Vehicle Launched Bridges, explosive munitions and equipment, and other maintenance, training and support services.”
Himars proved extremely effective during Ukraine’s lightning-fast counteroffensive late last year, which restored almost the entire Kharkiv region to Kiev’s control.
These advances – and the liberation of the southern city of Kherson – were the most significant changes on the front lines since Russia’s withdrawal from areas around Kiev in April.
In his statement, America’s top diplomat stressed that “the United States continues to rally the world in support of Ukraine” to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The new US military aid package was announced amid reports in US media that Ukraine’s artillery stocks may be running dangerously low more than a year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
Both Ukraine and Russia are believed to have fired tens of thousands of artillery shells each day for the past few months in a high-intensity war of attrition.
The Ukrainian military has not publicly commented on the reported shortage of ammunition.
However, President Zelensky said Thursday that “artillery is the number one thing we need.”
He added that Kiev also needs “a large amount of shells” and warplanes to “expel” Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine.
Military aid to Ukraine was expected to dominate the agenda as US President Joe Biden met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington on Friday.
Mr Biden thanked the German leader for his country’s “profound” support for Ukraine.
Mr Scholz said it was important to stress that this would continue “as long as it takes and for as long as necessary”.
A number of Ukraine’s Western allies have pledged to supply tanks and artillery – but Kiev says it needs to happen much more quickly to deter further Russian aggression.