Germany announced on Wednesday it would send anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems to Ukraine and the United States was set to unveil details of its own security program as Ukraine struggled to push back a fierce Russian offensive.
Russian troops in recent days have seized most of the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, one of the last major cities under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region. The city has been pounded by artillery for weeks as Moscow uses its superior firepower to gain the upper hand in the crucial Donbass.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told lawmakers that the IRIS-T SLM missiles he will send are “the most modern air defense system Germany has”. They will allow Ukraine to defend an entire city against Russian air attacks,” he said. Germany will also supply Ukraine with radar systems to help locate enemy artillery.
The United States will reveal details of a $700 million security package to include High Mobility Rocket Systems (HIMARS). US officials said Ukraine had assured the United States that the rockets would only be used to repel Russian forces in Ukraine and not to attack Russian territory.
Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin did not believe the Ukrainian pledge. He accused the United States of “deliberately adding fuel to the fire” and said the missiles would not encourage kyiv to resume peace talks.
►Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country would serve as an “economic hub” for neighboring Ukraine, helping it export grain and other products while Russia would block export routes from Ukraine Ukraine.
►Portugal has sent 146 Marines to join a NATO force stationed in Lithuania as part of efforts to bolster the alliance’s eastern flank. The deployment includes divers specializing in the deactivation of mines and other explosive devices.
►Polling stations are open in Denmark for voters to decide whether to drop their country’s 30-year opt-out from the European Union’s Common Defense Policy. This month, Sweden and Finland announced historic offers to join NATO.
JOIN USA TODAY ON TELEGRAM: Find our Russia-Ukraine war channel here to get updates on your phone.
According to the EU, other means of exporting Ukrainian grain would transport only a fifth of the usual total. European Union leaders are trying to find a way around the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports that prevents the export of 22 million tonnes of grain, but they recognize that alternatives to shipping would transport only a fraction of the product . European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen plans to ship food by road and rail, which would only carry a fifth of Ukraine’s usual monthly exports.
“It is of course more tedious and more expensive, but you have to get that wheat out,” she said.
A regional governor in eastern Ukraine says Russian forces control 70% of Sievierodonetsk, a center of Moscow’s offensive. Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram post on Wednesday that some Ukrainian troops were fighting with the Russians while others had retreated. Humanitarian cargo cannot be delivered, but for now the local hospital has enough medicine and other medical supplies, and the humanitarian headquarters has food.
“We are fighting for every settlement in the Luhansk region,” Haidai said. “We are waiting for Western weapons and we are preparing for disoccupation.”
Contribute: The Associated Press