Russian forces tried to advance into eastern Ukraine and fired tanks, mortars and artillery at Kherson in the south, the Ukrainian military said, as Western allies sought to reinforce Ukraine and its neighbors against Moscow.
In Washington, Raytheon has been awarded a $1.2 billion contract for six advanced surface-to-air missile systems known as NASAMS for Ukraine, the Pentagon said.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wednesday that his country needed US-made Patriot missile defense systems to protect its civilian infrastructure, which has come under heavy attack from Russia at the start of winter.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russian President Vladimir Putin had focused “his anger and his fire” on Ukraine’s civilian population and warned Russia that its strategy would fail to divide Ukraine’s supporters.
“Heating, water, electricity… these are President Putin’s new goals. He is hitting them hard. This brutalization of the people of Ukraine is barbaric,” Blinken told a news conference in Bucharest after a two-day NATO meeting.
At the NATO foreign ministers meeting, the allies pledged on Wednesday to help Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina as they face pressure from Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the ministers said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the result showed that NATO was “not at all interested in a political and diplomatic solution in Ukraine.”
Russia invaded Ukraine in February in what it calls a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of nationalists it considers dangerous. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of an unprovoked imperialist land grab.
Ukraine ordered all Kyiv embassies abroad to tighten security after two letter bombs were sent to Ukraine’s ambassador in Madrid and to an arms company in Spain that makes rocket launchers donated to Ukraine. Spanish police said they were examining a possible link between the two bombs, one of which injured an embassy security officer.
In the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, the site of the heaviest fighting, Russian forces tried to advance further and shelled several towns, including Bakhmut and nearby Soledar and Opytne, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said. in a statement Wednesday night.
On the southern front, he said, Russian forces took up defensive positions and fired tanks, mortars and artillery at Ukrainian positions and the regional capital of Kherson, which they abandoned last month.
Other battlefield activity was reported in northeastern and central Ukraine, the army said.
Reuters was unable to verify the reports from the battlefield.
“We are analyzing the intentions of the occupiers and preparing countermeasures, tougher countermeasures than now,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a speech on Wednesday night.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, said power had been restored to 65% of consumers in Kherson.
Nearly 6 million customers in most regions of Ukraine and in Kyiv had no power, Zelenskyy said on Wednesday.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said defense forces had shot down 340 of the roughly 400 Iranian drones Russia had launched during the war.
“We haven’t seen these Iranian UAVs for about two weeks…probably the first batch has already sold out,” he told Ukraine’s main TV station.
On the economic front, he was close to an agreement on the resumption of Russia ammonia exports via a pipeline to a Ukrainian Black Sea port, United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said.
“I think we’re pretty close, we’re getting close to that this week,” Griffiths said at a Reuters NEXT event.
A deal aimed at easing global food shortages by helping Ukraine export its agricultural products from Black Sea ports was extended on November 17 for four months, though Russia said its own demands had not yet been fully addressed. The agreement was initially negotiated in July by the UN with the help of Turkey.