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Ukraine war latest: US provides more air defense following upsurge in Russian attacks

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 1, 2023 1:11 AM 5 min read
US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 31, 2023. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
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Key Developments on May 31:

  • US to provide Ukraine with more air defense systems, ammunition
  • Ombudsman: Ukraine's POWs and abducted children are transported through Belarus
  • Zelensky visits Odesa Oblast, introduces new governor
  • Russian shelling injures 3 children in Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson oblasts
  • Russia blows up road linking Ukraine and Russia

U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby announced during a White House press briefing on May 31 that the U.S. would provide Ukraine with more air defense in response to Russia's upsurge of attacks over the past month.

The U.S. will provide additional ammunition for the Patriot air defense system, "which Ukraine has been deploying quite effectively," Kirby said.

Ukraine's Air Force confirmed in early May that the Patriot air defense system was used to successfully shoot down a Russian Kh-47 Kinzhal ballistic missile for the first time since the start of the war.

Avenger air defense systems, Stinger anti-aircraft systems, and additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, also known as HIMARS, were also included in the new package, according to Kirby.

Russia launched 17 attacks against Kyiv in May, with three attacks unfolding over the course of 24 hours on May 30. The shelling of cities and villages located in oblasts along the Russian border also continues on a near-daily basis.

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Russian non-stop attacks

On the morning of May 31, Ukraine's officials reported one civilian killed and 13 injured due to Russian shelling over the past 24 hours.

During the day, Russia shelled Kherson Oblast, injuring three.

Among the total tally of injured were three children, one in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and two in Kherson Oblast.

Children continue to be among the most vulnerable groups in the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets confirmed that the Belarusian authorities are cooperating with Russia on the transfer of abducted Ukrainian children and prisoners of war through its territory.

According to exiled Belarusian opposition members, 2,150 Ukrainian children, including orphans between the ages of six and 15, had been forcibly relocated to recreation camps and sanatoriums on Belarusian territory.

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko is accused in the report of personally facilitating the forced relocation of Ukrainian orphans to Belarusian territory, which would implicate him in war crimes.

Prosecutor’s Office: 483 children killed, 986 injured due to Russian invasion of Ukraine
As a result of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, at least 483 children were killed and 986 were injured, the General Prosecutor’s Office reported on May 29. These numbers are not final as investigations continue, specifically in the areas where hostilities are taking place.

Zelensky visits Odesa Oblast, introduces new governor

President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Odesa Oblast on May 31, meeting with the regional military and law enforcement heads to discuss the situation in the southern region.

During the meeting, Zelensky introduced the new governor of Odesa Oblast, controversial official Oleh Kiper.

Speaking on the importance of Kiper’s position, Zelensky named the oblast a “priority region” for independent Ukraine.

The safety at sea is paramount to the functioning of the “grain corridor” for Ukraine’s agricultural exports, Zelensky said.

Kiper is at the center of a controversy related to his 10-day trip abroad over the Christmas holidays in December 2022.

According to Schemes, an investigative project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Kiper told them he had left Ukraine for "family-related circumstances" but refused to reveal to which country as a matter of safety for his wife.

Kiper said his wife had renounced her Russian citizenship in July 2022.

However, Schemes reported that at the time of their investigation's publication in February 2023, Kiper's spouse still had a valid Russian passport.

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Russian forces blow up road near border

Russian troops blew up a road in Ukraine's Chernihiv Oblast at the junction of Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Russian borders, the State Border Guard Service reported on May 31.

According to the Service's spokesperson Andrii Demchenko, cited by Ukrainska Pravda news outlet, the explosion occurred a day before on the road linking Ukraine's northern city of Chernihiv and Russia's Bryansk.

Demchenko told Ukrainska Pravda the move could be explained by Russia "fearing that Ukraine would attack the regional center (Bryansk)."

Hostilities are increasingly often taking part not only in Ukraine but also in Russia.

Officials in Russia's border oblasts of Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod reported numerous strikes by drones and artillery from Ukraine's territory over the past days.

Russian militia groups that claim to be fighting on Ukraine's side carried out armed incursions in the border regions, temporarily capturing several villages.

On May 30, drone strikes damaged several high-rise buildings in Moscow. Russia blames Ukraine for the attack on its capital, Ukraine's officials have denied responsibility.

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According to European Parliament President Roberta Metsola attacks on Moscow shouldn't have any impact on the EU's support for Ukraine.

"I think anyone who makes this argument is forgetting the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine," Metsola told Deutsche Welle on May 31.

"This is one country invading another and taking part of its territory," she added.

The EU will continue to supply aid to Ukraine until Russia withdraws, Metsola added.

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