The kremlin warned on Wednesday that increasing US arms supplies to kyiv it would aggravate the devastating war, launched 10 months ago by Russia’s illegal invasion, and “does no good” for beleaguered Ukraine.
“Weapons supplies (from the United States) continue, the range of weapons provided is expanding. All this, of course, leads to an aggravation of the conflict and, I have done, is not good for Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Peskov’s comments were the first official Russian reaction to news that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy was traveling to Washington for a summit with US President Joe Biden. It would be Zelenskyy’s first known trip abroad since a Russian invasion on February 24 sparked a war that has killed tens of thousands of people and devastated cities and towns across Ukraine.
Zelenskyy is expected to leave Washington with the promise of a massive $1.8 billion package of military assistance that would help his country fend off Russian aggression. The material provided by the United States is expected to include for the first time a battery of Patriot missiles and precision-guided bombs for fighters, US authorities said on Tuesday.
Peskov also confirmed media reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not deliver his annual state of the nation address this year. Peskov did not comment on the reasons for postponing the message to next year, saying only that it was related to the president’s “work schedule.”
Some Russian media have linked the decision to a war in which Russia has long since lost the initiative. The Kremlin also canceled this year the president’s annual press conference, which has been held every December since 2012.
While Zelenskyy was traveling to Washington, Moscow he was doing in his own high-level diplomacy. The number two of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, met on Wednesday with the president of China, Xi Jinping. Medvedev, the former Russian president, said in a video statement that he had spoken with Xi on various issues, including “the conflict in Ukraine.” Medvedev did not elaborate.
China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and criticized sanctions against Moscow. Beijing has only referred to the invasion as “the Ukrainian situation” in deference to Moscow, and accused the United States and NATO of provoking Putin by expanding into eastern Europe.
In Ukraine, Russian forces hit populated areas with more missiles and artillery on Wednesday. Overnight they shelled areas around the city of Nikopol, in the Dnipropetrovsk region of southeastern Ukraine, its governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, said Wednesday morning on Telegram.
Nikopol is located across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant. The plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, is occupied by Russian forces.
Five civilians were killed and 17 others wounded by Russian strikes on Tuesday, the Ukrainian president’s office said on Wednesday. Russia used five missiles and 16 airstrikes against Ukrainian territory, as well as multiple rocket launcher systems in 61 incidents, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.
Ukrainian forces repelled attacks on more than 25 towns in the eastern provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv, according to General Staff spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun, while the cities of Bakhmut and Adviivka remained important targets of the offensive. Russian.
Zelenskyy set out after a perilous trek on Tuesday to Bakhmut, in Ukraine’s disputed Donetsk province, which he described as the hardest-fought place on the conflict’s 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) frontline.
The Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhia oblasts, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in September, remained hotly contested as Ukrainian resistance halted the Russian campaign.
Seizing Bakhmut would allow Russia to cut off Ukrainian supply routes and open an avenue for Russian forces to press towns that are Ukrainian strongholds in the Donetsk province.
A video of the visit to Bakhmut released by his office showed Zelenskyy receiving a Ukrainian flag signed by soldiers and talking about handing it over to US authorities.
“We are not in an easy situation. The enemy is increasing his army. Our people are braver and need more powerful weapons,” the Ukrainian leader said. “We will deliver it from the boys to Congress, to the President of the United States. We are grateful for your support, but it is not enough. It is an indication, it is not enough”.