Ukraine can continue its defensive struggle against Russia with new billions in aid from the United States. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked for the help. The foreign partners should not see the aid as a gift, he stressed. "It's your contribution to your own safety." According to their own statements, the last Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol from the embattled Azov steelworks spoke up. The foreign ministers of the Council of Europe want to discuss the international efforts to support Ukraine this Friday in Turin, Italy.
"Hell" in Donbass and alleged video from Azovstal
Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops continued, especially in eastern Ukraine in the Donbass. The command of Ukrainian forces in the region reported Thursday that 14 enemy attacks had been repelled. The information could not be verified. Numerous civilian fatalities were once again recorded. According to the authorities, five people were killed in the Donetsk region alone. Zelenskyy described the situation in Donbass as "hell". The army continues to work on the liberation of the Kharkiv region, the President said. "But in the Donbass, the occupiers are trying to increase the pressure. It's hell there, and that's not an exaggeration."
According to their own statements, the commanders of the last military resistance of Ukraine in Mariupol are still in the Azov steel plant. Ukrainian media on Thursday circulated a video with the deputy commander of the Azov regiment Svyatoslav Palamar. "I and the command are on the Azovstal site. There is a certain operation going on, the details of which I will not say anything," Palamar said. According to Russian information, since the beginning of the week 1,730 Ukrainian armed men who had holed up in the bunkers under the steelworks have surrendered. They were taken prisoner of war.
The US is helping Ukraine with billions
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the recent military aid given to Kyiv by western countries as an investment in their "own security". "For our partners, these are not just expenses or a donation," said the head of state in his video speech at night. "Protecting Ukraine means protecting itself from new wars and crises that Russia can unleash." The US Congress on Thursday approved a $40 billion package to support Ukraine's war effort against Russia. US President Joe Biden has yet to sign the bill.
Around half of the almost 40 billion dollars goes to the defense sector. Six billion dollars are earmarked for direct military aid to Ukraine. In addition to direct arms deliveries, billions more are to be used to replenish US stockpiles with military equipment that was sent to Ukraine. Other funds are earmarked for humanitarian aid to refugees from Ukraine or to people around the world starving as a result of the war. The US government had previously launched several large packages of support for Ukraine. In Bonn, the G7 finance ministers are currently adding up the additional billions that each country could pay to Kyiv.
Von der Leyen: Tie reconstruction aid for Ukraine to reforms
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen suggested linking future reconstruction aid for Ukraine to reforms given the country's desire to join the EU. "We will have to help finance the reconstruction of Ukraine anyway," said von der Leyen on Thursday on ZDF at Maybrit Illner. Then she thinks it makes sense to say: "Yes to investments, but right away with the necessary reforms, for example against corruption or for example for the establishment of the rule of law."
Melnyk on heavy weapons: impression that Scholz does not want to deliver
The Ukrainian ambassador in Berlin, Andriy Melnyk, again accused Chancellor Olaf Scholz of being hesitant to deliver heavy weapons. "We have the impression that the Chancellor does not want to deliver," Melnyk told the editorial network Germany. So far, neither Cheetah tanks, nor Leopard 1 or Marder have been delivered, he criticized. The announced exchange of rings with T-72 tanks for the Ukraine from Slovenia has also not worked out so far. Berlin has meanwhile announced that it will make 15 Leopard 2 tanks available to the Czech Republic in a so-called ring swap in order to offset deliveries of heavy weapons from the NATO partner to Ukraine. "Delivery is scheduled to begin this year and will also include a 30-day supply of 120 mm ammunition," the Ministry of Defense told the responsible officials in the Bundestag. The letter was available to the German Press Agency.
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