French President Emmanuel Macron, during visit to Beijing, says with China’s relationship with Russia it can “play a major role” in achieving peace in Ukraine. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi reiterated the “urgent need” to protect the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine as he met with Russian officials in Kaliningrad. Russian bank VTB reports $7.7 billion in losses for 2022. Bank officials blamed Western sanctions that targeted Russia’s financial sector after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Poland’s Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk announces resignation amid anger from Polish farmers about effects of Ukrainian grain imports on prices.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled Wednesday to neighboring Poland to meet with leaders there as well as members of the public and Ukrainian refugees who fled after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Polish officials said his talks with President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki would include discussion of the conflict as well as international support and cooperation.
Poland has been a key ally for Ukraine. The U.N. refugee agency says there are 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees who have registered for temporary protection status in Poland.
Poland has also served as a main hub for other Ukrainian partners to send in military and humanitarian aid.
The United States is providing Ukraine with a $2.6 billion military aid package that includes munitions for Patriot air defense systems and three surveillance radars.
The package also includes hundreds of thousands of ammunition rounds along with 155 mm and 105 mm artillery rounds, which Ukrainian forces have continued to quickly burn through as they counter Russia’s illegal invasion.
“Ammunition for HIMARS, for air defense, for artillery is just what we need,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Tuesday. “Thank you Mr. President Biden, thank you Congress, thank you every American!”
A senior defense official, who spoke to reporters Tuesday on the condition of anonymity, said new equipment in the package such as nine 30 mm gun trucks could “detect and intercept drones such as the Iranian-built Shahed[s]” that Moscow is currently using in the fight.
About $500 million of the aid package announced Tuesday will provide ammunition and equipment from U.S. military stockpiles using the presidential drawdown authority. Another $2.1 billion will buy an array of munitions and weapons for Ukraine in the future.
The U.S. has now pledged more than $30 billion worth of security assistance to Ukraine since the invasion. When viewed as a percentage of donor country GDP, the U.S. ranks about 10th in its security donations to Kyiv.
Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.