Ukraine braces for Severodonetsk fall, awaits new US weapons

SOLEDAR - Ukraine looked close to losing the key eastern city of Severodonetsk to Russian forces but was boost­ed Wednesday by the US decision to send more advanced rocket systems to help with its defence.

“The Russians control 70 percent of Severodo­netsk,” Lugansk region governor Sergiy Gaiday announced on Telegram, adding that Ukrainian forces were withdrawing to prepared positions.

In a boost for the outgunned Ukrainian mili­tary, President Joe Biden confirmed that more US weaponry was on the way to allow them to “more precisely strike key targets” in Ukraine.

The new weapon is the Himars multiple launch rocket system, or MLRS: a mobile unit that can simultaneously launch multiple preci­sion-guided missiles.

They are the centrepiece of a $700 million pack­age being unveiled Wednesday that includes air-surveillance radar, more Javelin short-range anti-tank rockets, artillery ammunition, helicopters, vehicles and spare parts, a US official said.

With a range of about 50 miles (80 kilometres), they will allow Ukrainian forces to strike further behind Russian lines.

In an article in the New York Times, Biden in­sisted: “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”

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