The United States will reopen its embassy in Ukraine, and President Joe Biden’s top diplomat and top defense official pledged more military aid during their visit to kyiv as Russia warned against the armament of his enemy and battles raged in the east.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said their ability to visit the Ukrainian capital was proof of their tenacity in forcing Moscow to drop the assault on the capital last month.
“In terms of Russia’s war aims, Russia has already failed and Ukraine has already succeeded,” Blinken said after the visit.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday night that the crisis will end with an agreement but its content will depend on the military situation, blaming kyiv for merely imitating the negotiations.
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Earlier, the Russian ambassador in Washington had called on the United States to halt arms shipments, warning that large Western arms shipments were inflaming the conflict.
The two-month war has killed or wounded thousands of towns reduced to rubble and forced more than five million people to flee abroad as the biggest attack on a European state since 1945 drags on.
Russian forces were forced to withdraw from the outskirts of Kyiv in the face of heavy resistance and have yet to capture any of the larger towns.
The United States pledged $713 million in new aid to Ukraine and other countries in the region considered potentially vulnerable to Russian threats. The White House has also warned that more sanctions against Russia are likely.
An additional $322 million in military aid to Ukraine would bring total U.S. security assistance since the invasion began to about $3.7 billion, an official said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday attacked the West, saying he had failed to divide Russian society and accused him of inciting kyiv to plan attacks on Russian journalists, in remarks rejected by the authorities. Ukrainian security services.
Russia was trying to disrupt kyiv’s allies’ arms supply by bombing its rail infrastructure, Ukraine’s military command said.
The Russian Defense Ministry later said its missiles destroyed six facilities supplying railways used to deliver foreign weapons to Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbass region.
Five train stations came under fire in western and central Ukraine on Monday and one person was killed, Ukrainian TV reported citing Ukrainian Railways.
Two people were injured in the bombardment of a village in the Russian region of Belgorod, bordering Ukraine, the regional governor announced on Monday.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the information.
Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians or intending to overthrow the Ukrainian government.
Moscow says it launched a “special military operation” on February 24 because the United States was using Ukraine to threaten Russia and protect Russian speakers there. kyiv and its allies say they are pretexts for an invasion.
Normal life returns to Kyiv
Just a few weeks ago, Kyiv was a frontline city under curfew and shelling, with tens of thousands of troops on its northern outskirts and residents safe from artillery in its metro stations.
Today, the nearest Russian soldiers are hundreds of kilometers away and normal life is returning to the capital with the visit of Western leaders and the return of diplomats.
Blinken said US diplomats would come to the western city of Lviv first and should be back in Kyiv within weeks. Bridget Brink, now US Ambassador to Slovakia, will be the envoy.
But far from the capital, war is raging in eastern and southern Ukraine where Russia launched a massive offensive last week.
Russian forces continued shelling and shelling the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Monday where fighters are entrenched in a city ravaged by siege and shelling, Ukrainian presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovych said.
Moscow said it was opening a humanitarian corridor to let civilians out of the factory, but kyiv said no deal had been reached and called on the United Nations to help find one as a ‘”initiator and guarantor”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukraine undermined evacuation efforts and no one left the steel plant through humanitarian corridors on Monday.
Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy told reporters that a ceasefire was not a good option and would only allow Ukrainian forces to regroup, even if it was not his decision.
Ukraine’s general staff also reported Russian shelling of its second-largest city, Kharkiv, in the northeast as well as towns and villages to the south, but said assaults on three settlements had been repelled.
Russia was investigating the cause of a large fire that broke out in the early hours of the morning at an oil storage facility in the city of Bryansk, 54 km (96 miles) northeast of the border with Ukraine.
Neither side has publicly linked the fire to the war.
Addressing top Russian prosecutors in Moscow, Putin accused the West of inciting Ukraine to plan attacks on Russian journalists, one such attempt having been thwarted by the Federal Security Service (FSB).
The FSB service said it had arrested a group planning to kill TV talk show host Vladimir Solovyev, one of the most prominent voices in favor of the invasion, at the request of the Security Service of the Ukrainian State (SBU).
The SBU dismissed the allegations as Moscow-concocted fantasies.