US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a joint press conference with Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Kyiv, May 15, 2024 (Brendan Smialowski/AP)

Wednesday’s Coverage: Blinken in Kyiv — US Aid “To Make Real Difference v. Russian Aggression”

Map: Institute for the Study of War


Two elderly women have been killed in Russian attacks on the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine.

One woman, 87, was killed on site in the village of Hrafske. Another, 72, died of her injuries in Vovchansk.

Two women, aged 69 and 81, were injured.

An attack with cluster munitions on Vovchansk injured five people: two medics, two drivers, and the head of the Vovchansk City Military Administration, Tamaz Gambarashvili.


Denmark’s Foreign Ministry has announced a €750m ($815m) military support package for Ukraine.

The Ministry said the aid would bolstering air defense and artillery. Denmark will also seek opportunities to invest in Ukraine’s defense industry.


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has travelled to Kharkiv, amid Russia’s offensive in the region.

Zelenskiy posted on Telegram about a meeting with senior officials, included commander-in-chief Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi:

As of today, the situation in Kharkiv oblast is generally under control, our soldiers are inflicting significant losses on the occupier. But the direction remains extremely difficult – we are strengthening our units.

Discussions included “in detail the prospects of the combat situation, the threats in the coming days and weeks, and our, Ukrainian, opportunities to counter Russian offensive plans”.


Despite the attempt of the visiting Vladimir Putin to project a deepening Russian-Chinese strategic relationship, China’s leader Xi Jinping has remained publicly non-committal over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Xi said after talks with Putin in Beijing:

Both sides agree that political resolution to the Ukraine issue is the right direction.

China’s position on this issue has been consistent and clear, which includes adherence to the UN charter and principles, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, respect for the legitimate security concerns of each party, and building of a balanced, effective and sustainable security framework.

China hopes for peace and stability in Europe soon, and continues to play a constructive role.


The Ukrainian military says the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region is losing momentum.

The military said fighting continues in the northern part of the border town of Vovchansk, but the situation is under control.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War assesses Russia forces have advanced no more than 8 km (5 miles) inside Ukraine.

While relying on ISW, Agence France Presse assesses Russian gains as 278 square km (107.3 sq miles).

A Ukrainian military spokesperson said, “The situation in the Kharkiv sector remains complicated but is evolving in a dynamic manner. Our defence forces have partially stabilized the situation. The advance of the enemy in certain zones and localities has been halted.”


The Swiss Government is hoping to permit more arms exports while continuing to observe neutrality laws, including a ban on direct provision of weapons to Ukraine.

Switzerland restricts arms sales to countries at war unless they are authorized under a UN mandate.

Under pressure from Swiss MPs to support national arms producers, the government hope to override export restrictions under “exceptional circumstances” if it aligns with “foreign-policy or national-security interests”.

Last year Bern said it would not use any exception to allow transfers to Ukraine, denying German, Spanish, and Danish supplies of Swiss-made weapons to Kyiv.


New Zealand has announced sanctions against another 28 individuals and 14 entities over their role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The measures target the transfer of North Korean arms to Russia and Iranian actors who provide military assistance to Moscow.

“Russia is directly supported by its military-industrial complex in its illegal aggression against Ukraine, attacking its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Foreign Minister Winston Peters. “New Zealand condemns all entities and individuals providing this military support.”


Ukraine has attacked near Sevastopol, including Russia’s Belbek airbase, in occupied Crimea for the second day in a row.

Claims are circulating that a fuel depot was set on fire at the airbase. The partisan group Atesh claimed that the damaged depot stored “most of the missiles” for Russian Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets and MiG-31 aircraft, which launch Kinzhal ballistic missiles on Ukraine.

The Telegram channel Rybar, close to the Russian Defense Ministry, declared that air defense forces shot down several targets over Sevastopol and Simferopol. The Ministry claimed five US-supplied ATACMS missiles were intercepted overnight.

The Russian proxy head of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, said an attack was repelled and there was no damage to civilian infrastructure.


A woman was killed and another civilian injured by Russian attacks on 10 communities in the Sumy region in northern Ukraine on Wednesday.

Throughout the day, there were 183 explosions from 37 assaults with mortars, artillery, rocket launchers, and drones.


More than 50 countries have accepted invitations to the first Ukraine Peace Summit, says Swiss President Viola Amherd.

Russia has not been invited to the gathering, to be held in Bern in mid-June. Moscow has declared that it is not interested in the discussions.

Amherd said she is in negotiations over whether Switzerland will delay receipt of a US-made Patriot air defense system, so Ukraine can get one sooner.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: In a notable shift of position, the US has said that Ukraine can strike targets inside Russia with American-supplied weapons.

During his two-day visit to Kyiv, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a press conference that the Biden Administration is not encouraging Ukraine to attack inside Russia with the weapons. However, the decision is up to Kyiv, he said.

Throughout Russia’s 26 1/2-month invasion, the Administration has publicly barred Ukraine from carrying out the strikes. As late as Tuesday, officials were saying that the ban was still in place.

The issue has been elevated by the Administration’s decision to include ATACMS missiles with a range of 300 km (186 miles). The first set has been provided from $60.8 billion in authorized military aid, finally approved by Congress in late April after a 6 1/2-month blockade by Trumpists and hard-right Republicans.

Officials repeated that the missiles could only be fired on Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. However, the situation altered last Friday when Russia launched a cross-border offensive on the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine.

As the Russians overran about a dozen villages and closed on the town of Vovchansk, military analysts argued that Ukraine should be able to defend itself with strikes across the border, including with US-supplied HIMARS rockets.

A delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians pressed the case in Washington. “The main problem right now is the White House policy to limit our capability,” said David Arakhamia, the Parliamentary leader of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party.

“We saw their military sitting one or two kilometers from the border inside Russia, and there was nothing we could do about that,” added Oleksandra Ustinova, the head of the Parliamentary commission on arms and ammunition.

$2 Billion in New US Military Aid

At a joint press conference alongside Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Blinken announced another $2 billion military aid package for Ukraine.

“We’re rushing ammunition, armoured vehicles, missiles, [and] air defenses to get them to the frontlines,” he asserted.

Kuleba added, “Every delay of supply results in setbacks.”