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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday night that he was “grateful” for the latest $1 billion arms package promised by US President Joe Biden, even as troops showed off freshly delivered French artillery being used against Russian targets on the frontlines in the eastern Donbas region. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for the latest updates. All times Paris time (GMT+2).
07:10am: Macron, Scholz, Draghi expected to visit Kyiv today
The leaders of France, Germany and Italy are expected to visit Kyiv on Thursday, a day after the United States announced $1 billion worth of new arms for embattled Ukrainian forces. Kyiv’s troops are resisting a fierce onslaught in the Donbas region by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces, which are pushing to seize a swathe of eastern and southern Ukraine.
In a show of support, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi are expected in Kyiv. While there has been no official announcement about the trip, Macron is already in the region, having visited two of Ukraine’s neighbours – Romania and Moldova – in recent days.
06:55am: Russia, US must discuss nuclear treaty extension, says Kremlin
Russia and the United States must discuss the extension of the START nuclear arms reduction treaty, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA news agency in an interview on Thursday.
The matter was important for global security and Russia’s military operation in Ukraine was no reason to avoid its discussion, Peskov added.
06:07am: Ukraine troops boosted by fresh Western arms shipments, pledges
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday night that he was “grateful” for the latest $1 billion arms package promised by US President Joe Biden, even as troops showed off freshly delivered French artillery on the battlefield in the fierce fight for the eastern Donbas region.
Russian forces continued to pressure Kyiv’s troops in Donbas, but the Ukrainians pushed back, shelling Russian targets in Donbas with newly arrived French Caesar howitzers.
Ukrainian officials also met in Brussels Wednesday with Western allies, hoping to obtain more ammunition and more lethal weapons to turn the tables on the invaders.
The newest US arms package features 18 more 155mm howitzers and 36,000 rounds of ammunition for them; two land-based Harpoon anti-ship missile systems; and additional rockets for four Himars precision rocket artillery systems that Ukraine is soon to put in the field.
Zelensky said later in his evening address to the people of Ukraine that he was grateful for the package.
“The United States announced new strengthening of our defence, a new $1 billion support package,” Zelensky said. “I am grateful for this support, it is especially important for our defence in Donbas.”
05:10am: Deepening food crisis will push global displacement to new records, UN says
Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed global displacement numbers above 100 million for the first time, and the UN warns the resulting hunger crisis could force many more to flee their homes.
Efforts to address the global food insecurity crisis, which has been dramatically aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is “of paramount importance… to prevent a larger number of people moving,” the United Nations refugee chief Filippo Grandi told reporters.
“If you ask me how many… I don’t know, but it will be pretty big numbers.”
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01:15am: Two US citizens missing, feared captured, in eastern Ukraine
Two US citizens who traveled to Ukraine as volunteer fighters against Russian forces have been missing for a week and are feared captured, family members said on Wednesday.
Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, were last in contact with their families on June 8 and did not return from a mission around the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine.
Reports that the two men have been taken prisoners of war by Russia are unconfirmed, the families and a US State Department spokesperson said.
“What we know officially at this point from the State Department is that Andy and Alex are missing,” Joy Black, Andy’s fiancee, said by phone.
“We do not have confirmation for anything beyond that. Obviously the longer the search goes the more we start to consider other scenarios,” she added.
Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If the pair have been captured, they would be the first confirmed US citizens to have been taken as prisoners of war in the conflict.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said that if the reports are true, the United States “will do everything we can” to get them back.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)