Ukraine live briefing: U.S. to give $2.6B more in aid for Kyiv and neighbors; Zelensky cheers gains in Kharkiv

A man pours water on a fire after airstrikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, this week.
A man pours water on a fire after airstrikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, this week. (Sergey Kozlov/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

RZESZOW, Poland — As Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Thursday, the United States announced a total of $2.6 billion in additional security aid for Ukraine and its neighbors. Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced $675 million in new weapons transfers to Kyiv at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, during a trip for the latest meeting of allied defense ministers supporting Ukraine. The package includes more rounds for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, a U.S. official told The Washington Post earlier, speaking on the condition of anonymity. NATO’s message is that “we need to step up & sustain support for as long as it takes,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted after the meeting.
  • In the Ukrainian capital, Blinken pledged U.S. support for Ukraine, as the Biden administration seeks to help Ukrainian troops recapture territory from Russian forces. On his second trip to Kyiv during the war, Blinken visited a children’s hospital and met with senior Ukrainian officials in central Kyiv after an overnight train trip from Poland.
  • Blinken will announce $2 billion more in “security assistance” to bolster Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors, including NATO allies and regional partners “who are most potentially at risk for future Russian aggression,” the State Department said. Details of that funding were not immediately available.
  • Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Ukrainians have struck over 400 Russian targets with HIMARS rocket systems. In a brief battlefield update in Ramstein on Thursday, he said Russia’s “operational aims, in addition to their strategic aims, have been defeated by a very successful defense conducted by Ukraine.” The Ukrainian-launched offensive is “ongoing” and in its “early stages,” Milley said, adding that Ukraine is “effectively using their fires to shape the ground maneuver.”
  • Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians including children have been interrogated, detained or forcibly deported to Russia, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the Security Council on Wednesday. She cited witness testimony and reporting from groups including Human Rights Watch. The State Department described the “so-called filtration operations” as a Kremlin campaign to forcibly deport, disappear and imprison Ukrainians who it “decides could be a potential threat” to its control. Moscow dismissed the allegations as “fantasy.”

Battlefield updates

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his troops reclaimed territory in Kharkiv, cheering “good news” from the northeastern region, which is home to the country’s second-largest city. In his nightly address, he did not elaborate on the advances.
  • Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said Ukraine’s forces have retaken over 270 square miles of territory in the south and east, Reuters reported. Speaking at a news briefing on Thursday, Gromov added that Ukraine’s forces pushed up to 30 miles behind enemy lines — claims that could not be independently verified.
  • Fighting ramped up along the front line in Kharkiv around the town of Balakliia, according to Ukrainian and Russian media reports. The Russian news agency TASS reported Ukrainian shelling on territory under Russian control in the Kupyansk.
  • Ukraine’s top military chief warned that a “limited” nuclear war between Russia and Western nations cannot be discounted. In a wide-ranging article, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny also acknowledged for the first time that Kyiv was behind August strikes against Russian targets in the Crimean Peninsula.

Global impact

  • Four nations bordering Russia are set to further restrict Russian tourists this month. In a coordinated move, leaders of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia said they have agreed on a “common regional approach” to restrict the entry of Russian citizens traveling for tourism, culture, sport and business. Some Russians who have tried to enter are “coming with the aim of undermining the security of our countries, insofar as three-fourths of Russian citizens support Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine,” the countries said in a joint statement.
  • President Biden spoke about the “Russia’s weaponization of energy” over the phone with a large group of allies — including leaders of Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Romania, Poland, Britain, France, the European Union and NATO, according to a White House readout. They also discussed continued support for Ukraine and the necessity of further coordination to “secure sustainable and affordable energy supplies for Europe.”
  • The European Central Bank is expected on Thursday to raise interest rates for the second time this year in an effort to contain inflation without pushing the energy-starved economy into recession.
  • European Union ministers, facing an “astronomic” rise in energy prices, will meet Friday to discuss emergency steps to get their countries through the winter without more social and economic upheaval.
  • Russian ally Belarus launched military drills in a region near the Polish border, in Minsk and in the northeast, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said Thursday. State media said the exercises, running until Sept. 14, will train troops “to liberate an area temporarily seized by an enemy” and regain control over the border.

From our correspondents

Ukrainian hit squads target Russian occupiers and collaborators: Close to 20 Kremlin-backed officials or their local Ukrainian collaborators have been killed or injured in a wave of assassinations and attempted killings in Ukraine, David L. Stern reports.

“They have been gunned down, blown up, hanged and poisoned — an array of methods that reflects the determination of the Ukrainian hit squads and saboteurs often operating deep inside enemy-controlled territory,” he writes.

Dan Lamothe and Robyn Dixon contributed to this report