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U.S. announces $ 820 million military aid package for Ukraine

On Friday, the United States announced $ 820 million in details on additional military assistance to Ukraine, including a new surface-to-air missile system and counter-battery radar.

The latest aid package is designed to help Ukraine counter Russia's use of long-range missiles, and Western countries to send more sophisticated weapons systems better suited to Moscow's equipment. Following the call of the Ukrainian authorities to.

The Pentagon said Friday that the Biden administration had sent $ 7.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including nearly $ 7 billion since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine at the end of February.

US President Joe Biden said at a press conference at the NATO summit in Madrid this week that the United States "supports Ukraine as much as necessary."

The 14th US Military Aid Package for Ukraine includes two air defense systems called NASAMS. This helps the Ukrainian army defend against cruise missiles and aircraft.

US officials said the system is a NATO standard defense system and is part of an effort to upgrade Ukraine's air defense from a Soviet-era system to a modern system.

"Ukrainians do a great job of adopting existing air defense systems, but everyone knows that Soviet-type systems are made in Russia ... therefore. Over time, it will become more difficult to maintain with spare parts. "

The latest military aid package will also provide Ukrainians with up to 150,000 155mm shells and additional ammunition for the medium-range rocket system that the United States provided to Ukraine in June.

On Friday's front, at least 21 people were killed and dozens were injured in a Russian missile strike in the Odesa region of Ukraine. At least one of the damaged sites was a residential building. Ukrainian military officials said the two children were among the dead and the search for survivors was underway.

According to a statement from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the missile attacked a nine-story building in the town of Bilhorod-Donistrovsky.

Odesa local government spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said on Ukrainian state television that rescue operations continue to release people buried under rubble even after part of the building collapsed. rice field. Another missile attacked the resort facility, injuring several people, Brachuk said.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in its attacks.

"I want to remind you of the president's words that Russian troops are not cooperating with private targets," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of waging war with civilians.

In a nightly video speech on Friday, Zelensky described the strike as "a conscious and deliberately targeted Russian terrorist attack, not any error or accidental missile strike." rice field.

Ukrainian State Emergency Service firefighters work at a damaged residential building in the town of Serhiivka, about 50 kilometers southwest of Odesa, Ukraine, July 1, 2022.
Firefighters from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine damaged the town Working in a house July 1, 2022, Serhiivka Thursday Island, about 50 km southwest of Odessa, Ukraine. The strategic island has been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance since the invasion of Moscow four months ago.

Russia occupied the Black Sea in the early stages of the war, launched an attack on Ukraine from there, monitored shipments from Ukrainian ports, and then used it on the island of the Black Sea near Odesa. was doing.

Ukraine confirmed that Russian troops had withdrawn after the Ukrainian troops attacked the island overnight with missiles and artillery, and the remaining Russian troops escaped on two speedboats.

The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed to have left the small island "as a symbol of goodwill" after completing its mission.

A senior US official said the US "does not believe that what Russia is saying is credible that this is a gesture of good intentions." Officials said the withdrawal involved Ukrainian efforts to protect the island and the use of Kyiv, a weapon such as the Harpoon missile.

"Ukrainians made it very difficult for Russians to maintain operations there and made them very vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes," officials said.

In other developments, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Ukrainian Parliament that EU member states are "within reach" but urged them to push forward with anti-corruption reforms. did.

"You have created an impressive anti-corruption machine," she told lawmakers on Friday at a video link. Von der Leyen emphasized that Brussels and EU member states are firmly behind Ukraine in both the ongoing fight against the Russian invasion and the quest for a "reunion with European families". ..

Zelensky said Ukraine and the European Union have begun a new chapter in history after Brussels officially accepted the Ukrainian candidacy to join the block of 27 countries.

"We have made a 115-day journey to candidate status, and our journey to membership should not take decades. We should go this way fast. That's what Zelensky said.

At a NATO meeting in Madrid, Western leaders, including Biden, declared their continued military and humanitarian support for Ukraine.

When Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Girl Store visited Ukraine, Norway announced $ 1 billion in aid to Ukraine over two years. The

fund is for "humanitarian aid, national reconstruction, weapons and operational support to (Ukrainian) authorities," the Norwegian government said in a statement on Friday.

"We are standing with the Ukrainian people," the store said in a statement.

"We support the Ukrainian struggle for freedom. They are fighting not only for their own country, but for our democratic values."

Some information in this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.