Ukraine and Russia launched more drone strikes against each other’s cities as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy prepared to appeal directly to US senators for more aid and the White House warned that continued deadlock over funding would allow the Kremlin’s invasion to succeed.
At least two civilians were killed and three wounded when Russian shells hit the city of Kherson in southeastern Ukraine on Tuesday, hours after Moscow’s forces fired 17 attack drones and six missiles at targets across the country.
Ukrainian officials said 10 of the explosive-laden drones were shot down, but three of them damaged an unspecified infrastructure facility in the western Lviv region. Drones also hit the northeastern Kharkiv region and Donetsk and Kherson in the east and southeast.
Russia’s military said its air defence units shot down or jammed the controls of 26 Ukrainian attack drones over Russian regions near Ukraine and 15 others that were launched towards Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula illegally annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.
Moscow did not say if the drones struck any targets, but unnamed sources in Ukraine’s security service told local media that the strike had damaged Russian electronic warfare systems, a missile-guidance system and a parking area for military helicopters.
Heavy fighting continued in eastern Ukraine as British foreign secretary David Cameron pledged that the UK would support the embattled country “for as long as it takes” with military aid “at the level or even ahead of what we have done.”
Autocrats around the world will be emboldened. Democracy, this grand and noble experiment, will enter an era of decline— Chuck Schumer
He spoke in Britain’s parliament hours before Mr Zelenskiy and other top Ukrainian officials were due to hold a classified briefing via video link with US senators, ahead of a possible vote on Wednesday in the Senate that would be a first procedural step for the White House’s $106 billion (€98 billion) aid request for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.
US president Joe Biden’s administration has warned that approved funding for Ukraine will run out by the end of this month, potentially cutting arms supplies to Kyiv, “kneecapping” its troops on the battlefield and jeopardising its economic stability.
“We can’t ever put a price on defending democracy in its hour of need, because if Ukraine falls, [Vladimir] Putin will keep on going,” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said in reference to Russia’s leader of 20 years. “Autocrats around the world will be emboldened. Democracy, this grand and noble experiment, will enter an era of decline.”
Right-wing Republicans have opposed funding plans for Ukraine, even though firms in the states that many of them represent are benefiting from billion-dollar arms deals.
“The resources Congress has provided for Ukraine and other national security needs have halted Russia’s advances in Ukraine; helped Ukraine achieve significant military victories, including taking back more than 50 per cent of the territory that Russia had previously occupied,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
“Congress has to decide whether to continue to support the fight for freedom in Ukraine...or whether Congress will ignore the lessons we’ve learned from history and let Putin prevail. It is that simple. It is that stark a choice.”