Ukraine’s military has received only about 10% of the Western weapons it requested “to create parity” with Russia while Moscow is bulking up its own defense spending to combat a war that shows no signs of ending soon.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will preside at a meeting today of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels, Belgium, where dozens of defense ministers will try to “identify and examine the next steps needed to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression.”
Ukraine officials say those next steps must include lots of guns and ammunition. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted on Monday that Kyiv required 1,000 155 mm howitzers, 300 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems), 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles and 1,000 drones.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said Ukraine uses 5,000 to 6,000 artillery rounds a day, while Russia uses 10 times more.
“No matter how much effort Ukraine makes, no matter how professional our army, without the help of Western partners we will not be able to win this war,” Malyar said in a televised news conference.
It appears Russia will significantly boost its military budget to continue its slow but steady attack on the Donbas: British defense officials said Russian defense spending could increase by 12 billion U.S. dollars — approaching a 20% increase in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 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.
‘We are not terrorists’: Zelenskyy says long-range weapons won’t be turned on Russian cities
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