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Ukraine pleads with allies to end ‘artificial’ arms shortage as Russia takes key eastern city

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged allies at a global security conference in Munich on Saturday to plug an "artificial" shortage of weapons that is giving Russian forces the upper hand on the battlefield and said stalled U.S. aid was imperative.

Russia has upper hand due to stalled aid to Ukraine, says Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Soldiers carry sand bags at a fortified position.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged allies at a global security conference in Munich on Saturday to plug an "artificial" shortage of weapons that is giving Russian forces the upper hand on the battlefield and said stalled U.S. aid was imperative.

Addressing the gathering of politicians, diplomats and military officials from around the world who gave him a standing ovation, Zelenskyy mixed gratitude for the support shown by Western countries with urging them for more.

He spoke at a critical juncture in Russia's nearly two-year-old invasion of Ukraine, with his troops forced to withdraw from the devastated eastern town of Avdiivka.

Ukraine faces acute shortages of ammunition, and U.S. military aid has been delayed for months in Congress.

"Unfortunately, keeping Ukraine in an artificial deficit of weapons, particularly in … artillery and long-range capabilities, allows [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to adapt to the current intensity of the war," Zelenskyy said.

WATCH | Allies need to end 'artificial' weapons deficit, Zelenskyy says:

Ukraine needs allies to end 'artificial deficit of weapons'

12 hours ago

Duration 0:53

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country can still repel Russia's forces, but warns a cut in the flow of military aid could allow Russian President Vladimir Putin and his forces to take advantage on the battlefield.

He said that sending additional packages of weapons and air defences to Ukraine was the most important thing its allies could do.

"If your artillery [range] is 20 kilometres, but Russia's is 40 kilometres, there is your answer," Zelenskyy said.

Some European leaders cast a downbeat assessment of Western efforts to help Ukraine.

"We should have supported you much more from the very beginning of this war," said Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, "because Ukraine cannot win a war without weapons. Words are simply not enough."

U.S. funding

Asked about the delayed U.S. aid after a bilateral meeting with Zelenskyy, U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, denounced "political gamesmanship" in Congress that she said had no place in such matters.

U.S. Republicans have insisted for months that any additional U.S. aid to Ukraine and Israel must also address concerns about migration across the U.S. southern border.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has said he would ask European allies to reimburse the United States for about $200 billion worth of munitions sent to Ukraine.

That has raised concerns by Kyiv and its allies that U.S. funding for Ukraine in its war against Russia would dry up completely if Trump goes on to win a second term in the November presidential election.

Zelenskyy said there was no alternative to U.S. aid.

"We are counting on the United States as our strategic partner, that they would remain our strategic partner," he said.

Russians take Avdiivka

Russia's Defence Ministry said on Saturday that Russian forces have taken complete control of Avdiivka and troops are currently working to clear final pockets of resistance.

Videos on social media on Saturday appeared to show soldiers raising the Russian flag over one of the plant's buildings.

In a short statement posted on Facebook early Saturday, Ukraine's military commander, Col.-Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, said he had made the decision to pull his troops out of the town to avoid encirclement and "preserve the lives and health of servicemen."

A person in crutches wipes their face with their hand as they stand amid debris and near a building destroyed by bombardment.

The commander-in-chief said Ukrainian troops were moving to "more favourable lines."

Heavily reinforced with a web of tunnels and concrete fortifications, Avdiivka lies in the northern suburbs of the city of Donetsk, in Ukraine's Donbas — a mostly Russian-speaking industrial region in Ukraine's east.

Fewer than 1,000 people remain in the city, according to the Donetsk regional governor, Vadym Filashkin. The city, with a pre-war population of about 31,000, is today a bombed-out shell of what it once was.

An aerial view shows the ground covered with destroyed buildings and craters from bombardment.

Intense street fighting was also seen in Avdiivka, where Ukraine says its forces were outnumbered seven-to-one against an estimated 15,000 Russian troops.

Aerial footage of Avdiivka obtained by The Associated Press last December showed an apocalyptic scene and hinted at Russia's staggering losses, with the bodies of about 150 soldiers — most wearing Russian uniforms — lying scattered along tree lines where they sought cover.

Ukraine's withdrawal from Avdiivka marks the biggest change on the front lines since Russian troops captured Bakhmut in May 2023, which is also located in the Donbas.

WATCH | Why Ukraine's counteroffensive has stalled:

Why Ukraine’s counteroffensive has stalled

2 months ago

Duration 6:39

Six months into Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive against Russia, experts say the campaign has largely stalled. CBC’s Briar Stewart breaks down what’s gone wrong and what might happen next.

Capturing the eastern city is seen as vital for Moscow's aim of securing the Donbas — a key Kremlin goal since its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine started — and could hand Putin, who recently underlined its significance, a battlefield victory to hold up to voters as he seeks re-election next month.

However, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think-tank, said Thursday that taking Avdiivka would be more of a symbolic win for the Kremlin and would not bring significant changes to the 1,500-kilometre front line that has barely budged in recent months.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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