Ukraine’s military has retreated from the eastern town of Soledar as Russian forces attempt to encircle the nearby city of Bakhmut. It’s Russia’s largest battlefield victory since last summer. It came as Ukraine’s military chief said Russia fired 55 cruise missiles across Ukraine overnight, including 15 targeting Kyiv, where one person was killed and two others wounded.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is calling on its allies to supply it with modern warplanes, including advanced fighter jets, after the Biden administration said it will ship 31 U.S.-made M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine. The escalation came after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed to send Leopard 2 tanks. President Biden spoke at the White House Wednesday.
President Joe Biden: “Putin expected Europe and the United States to weaken our resolve. He expected our support for Ukraine to crumble with time. He was wrong.”
The British-based Stop the War Coalition blasted the move to arm Ukraine with tanks, tweeting, “This is not the path to peace & marks a serious escalation. Arming Ukraine & sending tanks is a step further away from negotiation.”
Meanwhile, a Russian court ordered the country’s oldest human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, to be closed down. It’s the latest in Moscow’s crackdown on free speech and dissidents, which has intensified since the start of its invasion of Ukraine last February. After headlines, we’ll speak with Alexey Kovalov, investigative editor of Meduza, an independent Russian news outlet.