Ukraine: Mariupol's Final Stronghold, Russia's New Missile, and U.S. Military Aid
This week's developments in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The three most important developments in the war in Ukraine this week are the surrounded Ukrainian troops and civilians at the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol, Russia's test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, and the latest military aid from the United States to the embattled nation.
"Russian President Vladimir Putin called off the Russian military’s assault on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Thursday," writes Matthew Luxmore for the Wall Street Journal, "instructing the army to instead block all entry and exit points from the last refuge for the remaining defenders of the heavily shelled Ukrainian port city."
Excerpt from Wall Street Journal: In a nod to the heavy losses Russia’s armed forces have sustained since the start of their invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Mr. Putin said a continued siege of the plant, where Ukrainian soldiers have been holed up for weeks fighting off the Russian offensive, would unnecessarily endanger the lives of Russian soldiers. “This is one of those times when we should think…about safeguarding the life and health of our soldiers and officers,” he said. “Block this industrial zone so that not even a fly can enter.”
"Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday that his military successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile with the potential to carry a large nuclear payload," reports the Washington Post, "but the Pentagon said it was not a significant threat to the United States."
Excerpt from the Washington Post: The RS-28 Sarmat, which NATO has dubbed “Satan 2,” is considered Russia’s most powerful ICBM: a super-heavy, thermonuclear-armed intercontinental-range ballistic missile. The missile that was introduced during a 2018 Russian state-of-the-nation address was the “next generation” of weaponry that could breach “any missile defense” system, Putin claimed at the time. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the United States did not consider the weapon a threat to Washington or its allies
And finally, "President Joe Biden pledged an additional $1.3 billion Thursday for new weapons and economic assistance to help Ukraine in its strong but increasingly difficult battle against the Russian invasion, and he promised to seek much more from Congress to keep the guns, ammunition and cash flowing," according to the Associated Press.
Excerpt from the AP: The latest military aid, Biden said, will be sent “directly to the front lines of freedom.” The new package includes $800 million in military aid for much-needed heavy artillery, 144,000 rounds of ammunition and drones for the escalating battle in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. It builds on roughly $2.6 billion in military assistance that Biden previously approved. There’s also a fresh $500 million in direct economic assistance to Ukraine for government salaries, pensions and other programs. That raises the total U.S. economic support to $1 billion since Russia’s invasion began nearly two months ago.