US increases arms aid while Ukraine expands combat gains

The United States announced more weapons for the Ukrainian army as it claimed wide-ranging gains on two major battlefronts in an offensive rush to defeat the arrival of fresh Russian troops and the looming winter.

The White House said it would ship four more Himars precision rocket launchers, 32 artillery pieces, 75,000 artillery shells and 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition to Ukraine as Russian fighters retreated from Kiev’s attack.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday his forces were making “rapid and powerful” advances and had recaptured “dozens” of villages in eastern and southern Russia this week.

At a briefing in Moscow, the Russian military admitted in updated maps of the fronts that they had suffered significant territorial losses.

A Kremlin-installed official in southern Ukraine’s Kherson region, which Moscow declared its own “sovereign territory” on Friday, urged residents to remain calm amid the Ukrainian army’s push and promised Russian jets and artillery would hit back.

“There is no need to panic,” Kirill Stremousov, the Moscow-appointed deputy head of the Kherson region, said on social media.

“Yes, explosions can be heard in the distance, but they are rare.”

– Russian battlefield maps –

Zelenskyi said eight settlements in the southern Kherson region to which Moscow’s forces retreated have been recaptured.

The latest battlefield maps from Moscow showed that Russian troops had abandoned many areas in Kherson, including along the west bank of the Dnipro River.

In the eastern Kharkiv region, maps showed that Russian forces had almost completely abandoned the east bank of the Oskil River, potentially giving the Ukrainians room to shell key Russian troop transport and supply corridors.

“Our soldiers don’t stop. And it’s only a matter of time before we expel the occupiers from our entire country,” said Zelenskyy.

Russia, meanwhile, has pressed ahead with its rapid-fire mobilization of more troops to support those already fighting in Ukraine.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the new fighters would be trained at “80 training grounds and six training centers.”

“To date, more than 200,000 people have enlisted in the army,” he said.

– New US Aid –

Washington announced $625 million worth of weapons to be withdrawn immediately from existing US military inventories.

The new batch added four of the powerful Himars medium-range rocket launchers to the 16 already delivered, which have enabled Ukraine to attack Russian command depots and weapons caches far behind the front lines.

The Pentagon is also sending 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery shells that can locate targets at medium to long ranges.

“This package will provide Ukraine’s armed forces with additional capabilities and ammunition needed to maintain momentum in the east and south,” said Laura Cooper, the Pentagon’s top official for Russia and Ukraine.

“We’re looking very closely at their ammo consumption rates to make sure they have what they need for the counteroffensive,” she said.

– UN meeting on “annexation” of Russia –

The United Nations General Assembly has called an emergency meeting for Monday to discuss the declared annexation of four regions in Ukraine partially occupied by Russia.

At the meeting, the 193 UN member states will consider a resolution currently in preparation after Russia vetoed a condemnation of its annexation claim in the Security Council last week.

Diplomatic sources said that the European Union is preparing a resolution together with Ukraine and other countries.

The resolution could make clearer the level of Moscow’s isolation and support on the global stage as the war rages on and its effects spread.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed three resolutions on the Russian invasion, with the third in late April revealing some erosion of international unity towards Moscow.

– Ukrainian economy is shrinking –

The World Bank, meanwhile, said Ukraine’s economy could shrink by 35 percent this year as the invasion has displaced more than 14 million people from their homes and stifled industrial production.

After the invasion of Moscow, the Ukrainian economy was “scarred by the destruction of production capacity, damage to agricultural land and reduced labor supply,” it said.

The head of Ukraine’s central bank, Kyrylo Shevchenko, announced his resignation on Tuesday due to health reasons.

“The war was another tough test for our team and for me personally,” said the 49-year-old.

Together with bank leaders, “we were able to keep (the) banking system operational during the war, provide Ukrainians with access to financial services and ensure financial stability despite the most difficult circumstances,” he said.