The United States on Wednesday promised to send more precision rocket systems to Kyiv, soon after Moscow signaled it was aiming to seize more Ukrainian territory beyond the eastern industrial region of Donbas.
The announcement came as the European Commission called on EU members to slash demand for natural gas to relieve dependence on Russian energy and the bloc agreed to an embargo on Russian gold imports, measures that Kyiv nevertheless dismissed as insufficient.
Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said Washington would send four more M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars), which have notably boosted Kyiv’s capabilities on the battlefield in recent weeks by allowing Ukrainian forces to hit Russian targets from long distances.
“Ukraine needs the firepower and the ammunition to withstand this barrage and to strike back,” Austin told reporters, adding that the new shipment would bring the total of US Himars sent to Kyiv to 16.
Hours earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview that Moscow’s military was no longer only focused on wresting control of the east Ukraine regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, which have been partially controlled by pro-Moscow rebels for years.
“The geography is different now. It is not only about the DNR and LNR, but also the Kherson region, the Zaporizhzhia region and a number of other territories,” he explained to state media.
On Tuesday, the United States said Russia was “beginning to roll out a version of what you could call an annexation playbook” — citing the same areas mentioned by Lavrov.
Russian forces, since invading Ukraine on February 24, have steadily advanced into each of those regions, wreaking destruction as they captured key cities and met fierce Ukrainian resistance.
In recent weeks, they have also hit Ukrainian civilian targets in cities and towns far away from the frontline, leaving scores of civilians dead, in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called a terror campaign.