US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized his country’s solidarity with Ukraine during his visit to Kiev. “I am here to deliver an important message,” Austin wrote on the online platform X (Twitter) on Monday. “The United States will continue to stand with Ukraine in its fight for freedom against Russian aggressors, now and in the future.” Austin also met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, among others.
The Pentagon said that one purpose of the visit was to clarify what the Ukrainian army needs, especially at the beginning of winter. “The United States and our allies and partners will continue to work to provide Ukraine with the capabilities it needs to succeed,” Austin said. However, there are growing reservations in the US Congress about supporting Ukraine.
Ukraine has been repelling the Russian invasion since February 2022. No other country has helped Ukraine with such a large arms shipment as the United States. However, continued aid is controversial in the US Congress; President Joe Biden’s administration must fight to release the funds. Washington recently promised Ukraine ATACMS missiles, which have a longer range than the weapons previously supplied by the USA. Ukrainian pilots are currently training on F-16 warplanes, which other countries want to deliver to Kiev, with the approval of the United States.
According to the Pentagon, Austin spoke on the phone with Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umjerov the day before. They prepared consultations with countries providing military support to Ukraine. The so-called Ramstein format will meet as a video conference next Wednesday (November 22). As Ambassador Bridget Brink announced, General Christopher Cavoli, commander in chief of US troops in Europe, arrived in Kiev with Austin. According to video recordings, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Umyerov also attended the meeting with Zelensky.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army announced that it had once again repelled dozens of Russian attacks along the approximately 1,000-kilometer-long front in the east and south. The situation report published by the General Staff in Kiev on Monday morning recorded 46 Russian attacks on Sunday. It was said that they were all repelled.
The Ukrainian General Staff said that the current focus of the clashes is in the cities of Maryinka (16 Russian attacks) and Avdiivka (12 attacks) near Donetsk, the capital of Russian-controlled Donbass. This military information cannot be immediately independently verified. However, the number of individual wars mentioned shows the intensity of the conflicts. International observers such as the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) confirmed that heavy fighting was taking place around Avdiivka.
Russian troops have been trying to surround the Ukrainian defenders in the city for weeks. The UK Ministry of Defense said wet autumn weather was currently making it difficult for both sides to fight. According to information from Ukraine, everything was calm on Monday night after two nights of intense Russian air strikes.
Ukraine has been repelling the Russian invasion since February 2022. No other country has helped Ukraine with such a large arms shipment as the United States. However, continued aid is controversial in the US Congress; President Joe Biden’s administration must fight to release the funds.
On Monday, Ukraine and Russia handed over the soldiers’ remains to each other again. Kiev Coordination Personnel Responsible for Prisoner of War Affairs announced on Telegram that the bodies of 94 Ukrainian soldiers were handed over to the Ukrainian side. The change was brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It was not reported how many bodies the Russian side received and where the exchange took place. The occasional exchange of dead soldiers or sometimes prisoners is one of the few contacts between warring parties.