Allies send more arms to Ukraine as Russia accuses NATO of proxy war
By Victoria Kim, Anushka Patil and Cora Engelbrecht
The United States marshaled allies Tuesday to pledge more military support to Ukraine, accelerating the drive to halt Russia’s offensive and degrade its war machine, as Moscow accused the West of pursuing a proxy war and ignoring the “considerable” risk that it could spiral into a nuclear conflict.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia has portrayed the war in Ukraine as part of a broader struggle with the West, declaring when he launched the invasion in February that his bigger target was America’s “empire of lies.”
Both Russia and Western allies were raising the stakes, with Germany announcing it would send Ukraine heavy weapons for the first time, a day after the top Pentagon official said the U.S. objective in the war was a “weakened” Russia.
The German announcement came during a meeting of military leaders from 40 countries held at the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany. After the talks concluded, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that allied military leaders planned to gather monthly so they could quickly react to the fluid battlefield situation in Ukraine.
The aim is to “strengthen Ukraine’s military for the long haul,” he said.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres met with Putin in Moscow, and afterward said they had an agreement “in principle” to evacuate civilians from a besieged steel plant in Mariupol, though similar previous agreements have fallen through. But the Russian leader showed no sign of easing his assault, as missiles struck the southern city of Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday, a day after Russian missiles hit at least five rail stations in western and central Ukraine.
In other developments:
— Russian forces have seized the City Council building in the southern port city of Kherson, the city’s mayor, Ihor Kolykhaiev, said. Ukrainian and Western officials have warned that Russia is planning a staged referendum to assert its dominion over the city.
— U.N. agencies appealed to donors for an additional $1.25 billion to tackle soaring humanitarian needs in Ukraine and $1.85 billion to support the millions of Ukrainians fleeing to neighboring countries. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine during the war, and the U.N. projected that the figure would rise to more than 8 million.
— Explosions shook Transnistria, a Russia-aligned breakaway region of Moldova that borders Ukraine and where hundreds of Russian troops are deployed. Ukrainian defense officials accused Russia of causing the explosions as a pretext to invade Ukraine from the west.
— Russia’s state gas company has announced the “complete suspension” of natural gas deliveries to Poland through a major pipeline, a potentially serious escalation of the economic conflict between Moscow and European countries that are backing Ukraine.