Ukraine Live Briefing: U.S. to send $1 billion in weapons to Ukraine; U.N. demands access to targeted nuclear plant

An image taken from video shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine on Aug. 7.
An image taken from video shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine on Aug. 7. (Russian Defense Ministry)

The United States is sending Ukraine another $1 billion in weapons and ammunition, the Pentagon said Monday, providing Kyiv with its largest military assistance package yet as Ukrainian forces prepare to mount a counteroffensive in the country’s south.

The new aid comes after an artillery strike at a Ukrainian nuclear power plant over the weekend raised international alarm, with U.N. Secretary General António Guterres calling the attacks “suicidal” and demanding that inspectors be granted access to the facility.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • The latest American aid package brings the total amount of military assistance the United States has sent to Ukraine to more than $9 billion since Russia’s invasion in February. This tranche includes ammunition for the high-mobility artillery rocket systems known as HIMARS and 75,000 howitzer rounds, as well as mortar systems, surface-to-air missiles, Javelins, Claymore mines and demolition explosives.
  • In a separate move, the United States is also providing another $4.5 billion in financing to the Ukrainian government, the U.S. Agency for International Development said Monday. The money, which will be sent through the World Bank, will help the country keep up essential services like gas and electricity, along with paying for humanitarian support and the salaries of civil servants and health-care workers, USAID said.
  • Between 70,000 and 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured during the full-scale war in Ukraine, Colin Kahl, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, said at a Monday briefing. The figure is “pretty remarkable,” Kahl said, “considering that the Russians have achieved none of Vladimir Putin’s objectives at the beginning of the war.”
  • Russia indicated Monday that it would allow international observers into the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which it captured in March, but such a visit would require a pause in fighting in the area. Russian state media reported that Moscow has offered to facilitate an inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
  • The Russian-appointed administration of the Zaporizhzhia province moved ahead with steps to hold a referendum on joining Russia. Evgeny Balitsky, head of the occupation administration in Zaporizhzhia, signed a decree Monday to kick-start the process as a crowd cheered, Russian media reported. Analysts and officials have for weeks warned that Moscow’s proxies in Ukraine would conduct sham referendums and use the falsified results as a pretext to annex Ukrainian territory.

Global impact

  • Russia announced that it was temporarily suspending inspection activities under a key nuclear arms treaty. According to a statement from Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Moscow told Washington that it was suspending some of the activities under the New START arms control treaty, the last remaining treaty limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals in the United States and Russia.
  • Guterres urged nuclear-armed countries to commit to the principle of no-first-use and warned that the nuclear arms race has returned. “Nobody can accept the idea that a new nuclear war would happen. This will be the destruction of the planet,” Guterres said, speaking at a news conference in Tokyo after marking the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing, conducted by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken began a three-country tour of Africa on Sunday, seeking to strengthen support on the continent for Ukraine and its allies after a recent Russian charm offensive there — a further sign that Africa is being dragged into Europe’s conflict.
  • If the world doesn’t stand united against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, it will be “open season” for powerful countries intent on similar aggression, Blinken said on Monday in Pretoria, South Africa. He will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda in the coming days.
  • Amnesty International said it is standing by the findings of its scathing report accusing the Ukrainian military of endangering civilians, but the organization said it “deeply regrets the distress and anger” the investigation generated in Ukraine. The country’s top officials denounced the report and Amnesty’s leader in Ukraine quit her job.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly next month. Instead, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is set to lead a delegation to the top diplomatic event, which is held in New York City in September. Putin last attended the event in person in 2015, though he gave a video appearance in 2020.

Battlefield updates

  • The mayor of Kharkiv said Russian shelling hit the “densely populated” area of Pavlovo Pole. Ihor Terekhov said the area had “no military infrastructure,” and he urged residents to take shelter.
  • Russia is probably placing mines along its defensive lines in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said, noting that the weapons can inflict “widespread casualties amongst both the military and the local civilian population.” It did not cite specific evidence for its findings.

From our correspondents

Zelensky calls on West to ban all Russian travelers. In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post on Monday, the Ukrainian president said that “the most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land.” He said Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.”

“Don’t you want this isolation?” Zelensky added, speaking as if he were addressing Russians directly. “You’re telling the whole world that it must live by your rules. Then go and live there. This is the only way to influence Putin.”

Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees Friday to annex four occupied regions of Ukraine, following staged referendums that were widely denounced as illegal. Follow our live updates here.

The response: The Biden administration on Friday announced a new round of sanctions on Russia, in response to the annexations, targeting government officials and family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials and defense procurement networks. President Volodymyr Zelensky also said Friday that Ukraine is applying for “accelerated ascension” into NATO, in an apparent answer to the annexations.

In Russia: Putin declared a military mobilization on Sept. 21 to call up as many as 300,000 reservists in a dramatic bid to reverse setbacks in his war on Ukraine. The announcement led to an exodus of more than 180,000 people, mostly men who were subject to service, and renewed protests and other acts of defiance against the war.

The fight: Ukraine mounted a successful counteroffensive that forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in early September, as troops fled cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.

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