Ukrainian troops bolstered by new Western arms shipments and pledges

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday night he was “grateful” for the latest billion-dollar arms package pledged by US President Joe Biden, even as troops showed off freshly delivered French artillery used against Russian targets on the front lines in the eastern region of Donbass. Follow the FRANCE 24 liveblog for the latest updates. Every hour in Paris time (GMT+2).

6:07 a.m .: Ukrainian troops reinforced by new Western arms deliveries, promises

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday night he was “grateful” for the latest billion-dollar arms package pledged by US President Joe Biden, even as troops showed off freshly delivered French artillery on the battlefield in the fierce struggle for the eastern region of Donbass.

Russian forces continued to pressure Kyiv troops in the Donbass, but the Ukrainians pushed back, shelling Russian targets in the Donbass with newly arrived French Caesar howitzers.

Ukrainian officials also met with Western allies in Brussels on Wednesday, hoping to secure more ammunition and more deadly weapons to turn the tide against the invaders.

The newest set of US weapons includes another 18 155mm howitzers and 36,000 rounds of ammunition for them; two land-based Harpoon anti-ship missile systems; and additional rockets for four Himars precision rocket artillery systems that Ukraine will soon field.

Zelensky later said in his evening speech to the people of Ukraine that he was grateful for the package.

“The United States has announced a new reinforcement of our defense, a new support program of a billion dollars,” Zelensky said. “I am grateful for this support, it is especially important for our defense in Donbass.”

05:10 am: Worsening food crisis will push global travel to new records, UN says

Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed the number of globally displaced people to more than 100 million for the first time, and the UN is warning that the resulting hunger crisis could force many more to flee their homes. foyer.

Efforts to address the global food insecurity crisis, which has been greatly aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are “critically important…to prevent more people to move,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi told reporters.

“If you ask me how many…I don’t know, but they’ll be pretty big numbers.”

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1:15 am: Two US citizens missing, fear capture, eastern Ukraine

Two US citizens who traveled to Ukraine as volunteer fighters against Russian forces have been missing for a week and fear capture, family members said Wednesday.

Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, were last in contact with their families on June 8 and have not returned from a mission in the area of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine.

Reports that the two men were taken as prisoners of war by Russia remain unconfirmed, the families and a US State Department spokesperson said.

“What we officially know at this point from the State Department is that Andy and Alex are missing,” Joy Black, Andy’s fiancée, said by phone.

“We have no confirmation for anything beyond that. Obviously, the longer the research lasts, the more we start to consider other scenarios,” she added.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If the couple were captured, they would be the first confirmed US citizens to be taken as prisoners of war in the conflict.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said if the information is true, the United States will “do everything possible” to recover it.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

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Martin E. Berry