Amid repeated requests for western countries to provide more military assistance to Ukraine, Russia has closed in on key cities in the Donbas and plans to significantly increase its military budget.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with western nations for more and faster deliveries of military arms during his nightly address Tuesday, as he does almost every night. Earlier in the day, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said the Ukrainian military had only received around 10% of the western weapons it had requested.
Meanwhile, Russia slowly tightened its grip on the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk — one of two large cities still under Ukrainian control in Luhansk, one of two regions that make up the Donbas. Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk, said Tuesday that Russian troops control about 80% of the city and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of it.
It appears Russia will significantly boost its military budget to continue its slow but steady attack on the Donbas: British defense officials said that the first deputy chairman of Russia’s Military Industrial Commission predicted that state defense spending will increase by 10 to 12 million U.S. dollars — approaching a 20% increase in Russian President Vladimir Putin defense budget.
►A Moscow court extended the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner through at least July 2, Russian state-run news agency TASS reported Tuesday. Griner has been in custody since Feb. 17, accused of bringing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil into the country. The U.S. Department of State considers her wrongfully detained.
►Russia banned dozens of British media and defense figures from entering the country in response to what the country’s foreign ministry alleged was the British media’s skewed portrayal of Moscow and its actions in Ukraine.
Ukraine won’t use any long-range missile systems the West might provide to strike civilian neighborhoods in Russia, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday.
Zelenskyy spoke remotely to Danish media on the eve of a meeting of global defense ministers in Brussels that could determine the heft and amount of weaponry supporting nations will provide Ukraine’s out-gunned but unwavering military. Ukraine cities have been pounded from a distance by long-range Russian weapons his military can’t reach.
“We are not interested in shelling civilians, we are not terrorists,” Zelenskyy said. “We need the right weapons … that work at such a distance.”
Zelenskyy said he was willing to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with or without mediators, on ending the war and withdrawing Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.
“Only President Putin decides whether the Russian army will stop or not,” Zelenskyy said. “In Russia there is one person who decides absolutely everything for the citizens of Russia and for the Russian military.”
Contributing: The Associated Press