US Agrees to Send Advanced Rockets to Ukraine

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The latest on the RussiaUkraine crisis, June 1. Click here for updates from May 31.

US Agrees to Send Advanced Rockets to Ukraine

Russian troops fought to take complete control of the eastern industrial city of Sievierodonetsk on Wednesday as the United States said it will provide Ukraine with advanced rockets to help it force Moscow to negotiate an end to the war.

President Joe Biden said the United States would provide Ukraine with more advanced rocket systems and munitions so it can “more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield”.

“We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table,” Biden wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times.

A senior Biden administration official said weaponry provided would include the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which Ukraine‘s armed forces chief said a month ago was “crucial” to counter Russian missile attacks.

Addressing concerns that such weapons could draw the United States into a direct conflict with Russia, senior administration officials said Ukraine gave assurances the missiles would not be used to strike inside Russia.

“These systems will be used by the Ukrainians to repel Russian advances on Ukrainian territory, but they will not be used on targets in Russian territory,” the U.S. official told reporters.

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Sievierodonetsk Mayor Says Russian Forces Seize Half of City

Russian forces in a “frenzied push” have seized half of Sievierodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city that is key to Moscow’s efforts to complete the capture of the industrial Donbas region, the mayor said Tuesday.

“The city is essentially being destroyed ruthlessly block by block,” Oleksandr Striuk said. He said heavy street fighting continued and artillery barrages threatened the lives of the estimated 13,000 civilians still sheltering in the ruined city that once was home to more than 100,000.

A Russian airstrike on Sievierodonetsk hit a tank of nitric acid at a chemical factory, causing a huge leak of fumes, according to Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region. He posted a picture of a big cloud hanging over the city and urged residents to stay inside and wear gas masks or improvised ones.

Haidai said later Tuesday that “most of Sievierodonetsk” was under Russian control, though he added that fierce fighting continued and the city wasn’t surrounded.

Sievierodonetsk is important to Russian efforts to capture the Donbas before more Western arms arrive to bolster Ukraine’s defense. Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops in the region for eight years and held swaths of territory even before the invasion.

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No Farm Trade Barriers, European Union Warns

The European Union urged its international partners to avoid placing trade barriers on farm products as the war in Ukraine risks further fueling a possible global food crisis.

“We call on all partners not to restrict trade on agricultural products,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after an EU summit Tuesday in Brussels.

Ukraine has said Russia is blocking the export of 22 million tons of its grain, some of it destined for Africa. African countries imported 44 percent of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine between 2018 and 2020, according to the U.N.

Von der Leyen said the EU is trying to help get food out by road and rail, but land transport assistance might only provide for a fifth of Ukraine’s usual monthly exports.

“It is of course more tedious and expensive, but it is necessary to get this wheat out,” she said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the EU’s sanctions are making things worse. Putin said he’s willing to help ease concerns if the restrictive measures are lifted.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Epoch Times Staff

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