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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pentagon Chief: 20 Countries Sending New Security Aid to Ukraine

By Carla Babb May 23, 2022

About 20 countries are sending new security assistance packages for Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said after concluding the second meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

"Many countries are donating critically needed artillery ammunition, coastal defense systems, tanks and other armored vehicles. Others came forward with new commitments for training Ukraine's forces and sustaining its military systems," Austin told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday.

Denmark said it would provide Ukrainian forces with a harpoon launcher and missiles, while the Czech Republic donated attack helicopters, tanks and rocket systems.

Monday's meeting included 47 nations that participated virtually, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, the top U.S. military officer. Austria, Colombia and Ireland were among the new participants.

The group's next meeting will be held June 15 in Brussels.

"Everyone here understands the stakes of this war, and they stretch far beyond Europe," Austin said.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin "must pay a dear price for his barbarism in Ukraine."

During a visit to Japan, Biden cited the importance of sending a message with long-term sanctions for Russia.

"If, in fact, after all he's done, there's a rapprochement between the Ukrainians and Russia and the sanctions are not continued to be sustained in many ways, then what signal does that send to China about attempting to take Taiwan by force?" Biden said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday called for increased pressure on Russia, telling the World Economic Forum in a virtual address that there should be an embargo on Russian oil, blocks on Russian banks, and a stop to all trade with Russia.

"This is what sanctions should be: They should be maximum, so that Russia and every other potential aggressor that wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor would clearly know the immediate consequences of their actions," Zelenskyy said through an interpreter.

Starbucks became the latest company on Monday to announce it will stop operations in Russia, closing its 130 cafes. The move follows McDonald's announcement last week that it was leaving Russia.

Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address later Monday that Russia has launched almost 1,500 missile strikes on Ukraine since the start of the war nearly three months ago. He said the vast majority of the 1,474 missile strikes were against civilian targets.

Zelenskyy said the Russians are now focusing their efforts on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine and "are trying to destroy all life." The region includes the eastern areas of Luhansk and Donetsk, as well as parts of southern Ukraine.

The 3rd month of the Russian invasion of 🇺🇦 is about to end. Europe continues to send € 1 billion a day to Moscow to buy oil & gas. 🇷🇺 continues to kill children, rape women & destroy cities. 🇺🇦 continues to defend European borders & democratic civilization. Draw conclusions.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) May 23, 2022

Luhansk's governor, Serhii Haidai, accused Russian forces in the main city of Sievierodonetsk of "intentionally trying to destroy the city" and "engaging in a scorched-earth approach."

Ukraine's government said Russian forces tried to storm the city on Monday but were not successful and retreated.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian court on Monday sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison for killing a Ukrainian civilian in the northeastern village of Sumy.

The 21-year-old soldier pleaded guilty, telling the court he acted after an officer told him to shoot the man.

Russia has denied targeting civilians. A Kremlin spokesman said Monday ahead of the verdict that Moscow was concerned about the trial and did not have "the capacity to protect his interests in person."

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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