Ukraine has been supplied with new heavy weapons from the USA. President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed yesterday evening the receipt and first use of American ATACMS missiles. At the same time, the Voice of America broadcaster reported that Kiev had now received the promised 31 heavy Abrams main battle tanks from US stocks.
Zelensky thanked US President Joe Biden for his support and confirmed that the agreements reached would be implemented “very precisely.” “The ATACMS have proven themselves,” he said in his evening video speech. According to reports in Ukrainian and American media, the ATACMS were used for the first time this morning in attacks on two airports operated by the Russian occupiers in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine: Nine Russian helicopters destroyed
Kiev had requested the weapon system (English: Army Tactical Missile System) a long time ago. According to Ukrainian sources, nine helicopters were destroyed yesterday in attacks against airfields near the cities of Luhansk and Berdyansk.
In addition, special technology, an anti-aircraft launch pad and weapons arsenals were destroyed, the army special forces in Kiev said via Telegram. Runways were also damaged. Ukrainian army chief Valeriy Zalushnyj published a short video on Telegram in the evening, which he said showed the launch of the ATACMS missiles to attack Russian air bases.
According to the defense company Lockheed Martin, the ATACMS missiles, which are fired from the ground against targets on the ground, have a range of up to 300 kilometers and hit very precisely. As the New York Times and the Washington Post reported, citing US government officials, the missiles now delivered to Kiev are throttled models.
When equipping Ukraine with missiles, there is concern that targets in Russia could also be attacked. For this reason, the USA and other Western partners reacted very hesitantly to the demands from Kiev for a long time. Zelensky asserted that his country was not planning to use the missiles to attack Moscow or other targets on Russian soil.
Zelenskyj sees success on the front
After a meeting of the Ukrainian General Staff, Zelensky highlighted the successes of his troops in the fight against the Russian occupiers. "There are results," he said yesterday, without giving details. Shortly before, the Ukrainian military leadership had reported new terrain gains in the central Ukrainian district of Zaporizhzhia. The Russian lines there were pushed back by almost a kilometer. This information could not be independently verified.
Dead in Russian rocket fire in Zaporizhia
According to local authorities, at least two people were killed in Russian rocket fire in the city of Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine. It was said that people were also injured when a rocket hit a five-story residential building. Eight apartments were destroyed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on the X portal (formerly Twitter). There could still be residents under the rubble. Rescue workers are on duty. Authorities said a man was pulled alive from the rubble that morning.
Kiev expects early negotiations on EU membership
Kiev expects the first negotiations on Ukraine's admission to the EU this year. President Zelenskyy said yesterday that the Ukrainian parliament had passed the necessary resolution and that he was now waiting for the text of the law to sign it. "Our task remains unchanged: we want to be ready to start negotiations on Ukraine's membership in the EU this year," he said. Ukraine expects the heads of state and government of the EU countries to make a political decision to start negotiations.
Both Ukraine and its small neighbor Moldova received EU candidate status in June 2022. A decision will be made in December as to whether accession negotiations will begin with the two countries. EU Council President Charles Michel recently advocated that the EU should be ready to accept countries like Ukraine by 2030.
EU Parliament is in favor of 50 billion euros in aid to Ukraine
The European Parliament supports plans for new billions in aid for war-torn Ukraine, but also wants to see frozen Russian assets used for this purpose. It's about an amount of 50 billion euros, which the EU Commission recently proposed. The money will flow into the reconstruction and modernization of the country from 2024 to 2027, as the EU Parliament announced yesterday in Strasbourg.
This will be important today
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is visiting North Korea today and tomorrow. Lavrov is also expected there to prepare for a trip by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Pyongyang. North Korea has come under international criticism for supplying weapons for Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine.