Ukraine war live updates: U.S. and Ukraine discuss battlefield situation, 'urgent' defense needs; Russia says war fatigue spreading

Top U.S. and Ukrainian officials discussed the situation on the battlefield and Ukraine’s “urgent” defense needs on Monday.

The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, and U.S. national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, had a phone call Monday to “discuss the situation at the front, Russian drone attacks, Ukraine’s defense needs and the issue of joint production of weapons,” the president’s office said in a statement.

Yermak briefed Sullivan on front-line developments, as well as the recent Russian air attacks — using Iranian-made drones — on Ukrainian infrastructure facilities.

“The parties discussed the urgent defense needs of the Ukrainian defense forces,” the statement added.

U.S. national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House on Sept. 15, 2023.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

The officials also discussed joint arms production that was announced during President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s recent visit to Washington.

“Yermak expressed gratitude to U.S. President Joseph Biden, the U.S. Congress for the continued support of Ukraine, and to all the people of America who support Ukrainians and our defenders in confronting Russia’s unjust aggression and authoritarianism,” the statement said.

The call comes at a tricky moment in U.S.-Ukrainian relations. Over the weekend, the U.S. Congress passed a stopgap funding bill that introduced a 45-day pause on new financial assistance for Kyiv. Since the start of Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine, the U.S. has pledged more than $43 billion in security assistance to Kyiv.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Europe’s common victory “explicitly depends” on cooperation.

“I am confident that Ukraine and the entire free world can prevail in this confrontation. But our victory explicitly depends on our cooperation,” Zelenskyy said in an EU-Ukraine Foreign Ministers’ meeting published on the Ukrainian presidency website.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“The more powerful and principled steps we take together, the sooner this war will end. End fairly. With the restoration of our territorial integrity and a reliable guarantee of peace for the whole of Europe.”

The speech comes as war fatigue appears to be growing among some of Ukraine’s allies, with a pause in U.S. funding for Ukraine and a pro-Russian candidate having won Slovakia’s general election over the weekend.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Russia claimed Monday that war fatigue is spreading among Ukraine’s allies, stating that this was exemplified by the pause in U.S. funding for Ukraine and the triumph of a pro-Russian candidate in Slovakia’s weekend election.

“As we said earlier many times, according to our estimates, people in many countries, including the U.S., will be growing tired of this conflict, tired of this totally absurd sponsoring the Kyiv regime. This tiredness will lead to the political establishment splitting,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s press secretary, told reporters Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) talks to his Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (L) during his meeting with African leaders at the Konstantin Palacein Strelna on June 17, 2023 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. 

Contributor | Getty Images

Nonetheless, Peskov said the U.S.’ plan to temporarily halt funding for Ukraine for 45 days, as part of a stopgap funding bill passed by Congress at the weekend, did not mean U.S. support for Kyiv was over.

“This is a temporary occurrence, evidently. The U.S. will continue their involvement into this conflict, almost a direct involvement,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

German exports of military equipment to Ukraine grew more than fourfold so far this year, making Kyiv the main recipient of German arms, the economy ministry said on Monday.

Ukraine accounted for 3.3 billion euros ($3.48 billion) out of Germany’s total value of authorised military exports of 8.76 billion euros in the first nine months of the year.

By contrast, for the same period last year, 775 million euros’ worth of equipment had been approved for Ukraine.

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz and France’s President Emmanuel Macron visit the Brandenburg Gate, while it is illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Berlin, Germany May 9, 2022.

Michele Tantussi | Reuters

Germany has repeatedly promised to support Ukraine for as long as necessary following the Russian invasion in February 2022, which prompted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to speak of a turning point in Germany’s attitude towards defense.

Hungary, which has long said it would increase its military spending, was the second-largest recipient at 1.03 billion euros, followed by the United States with 467 million euros.

— Reuters

Russia said it is watching political developments in Slovakia after the pro-Russian populist, and former prime minister, Robert Fico won a parliamentary election at the weekend.

When campaigning, Fico promised to halt military support for Ukraine and called on Kyiv and Moscow to reach a compromise to end the war.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was ridiculous that European politicians like Fico were labelled pro-Russian.

“Now anyone who thinks about the sovereignty and independence of their country are getting called pro-Russian. We would surely like to see experienced and cool-headed leaders in Slovakia,” he said, in comments translated by NBC.

Robert Fico, chairman of the Slovak Social Democracy (SMER), during an interview at the party headquarters in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Tuesday, April 25, 2023.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Fico and his Smer party still needs to form a coalition in order to govern so their future coalition partner could determine which direction the country goes in when it comes to support for Kyiv.

— Holly Ellyatt

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba attends a joint media briefing amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine 14 September 2022.

Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukraine’s top diplomat said on Monday Washington’s support for Kyiv was not weakening, and played down the significance of a stopgap funding bill passed by U.S. Congress that omitted aid to Ukraine.

U.S. and other Western military assistance has been vital for Ukraine to fight back against the full-scale invasion launched by Russia in February 2022.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv was in talks with Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress, and that the drama around the stopgap bill that averted a government shutdown on Saturday was an “incident” rather than something systemic.

“We don’t feel that the U.S support has been shattered… because the United States understands that what is at stake in Ukraine is much bigger than just Ukraine,” he told reporters as he greeted European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell before a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Kyiv.

“It’s about the stability and predictability of the world and therefore I believe we will be able to find necessary solutions.”

Kuleba said the question was whether what happened in the U.S. Congress at the weekend was “an incident or a system”.

“I think it was an incident,” he said. “We have a very in-depth discussion with both parts of the Congress – Republicans and Democrats. And against the background of the potential shutdown, the decision was taken as it was.

“But we are now working with both sides of the Congress to make sure that it does not (get) repeat(ed) again under any circumstances,” he said.

— Reuters

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