US to arm Ukraine with controversial depleted uranium munitions

US to arm Ukraine with controversial depleted uranium munitions

The US on Wednesday announced it was sending depleted uranium anti-tank rounds to Ukraine, following Britain’s lead in sending the controversial munitions to help Kyiv push through Russian lines in its grueling counteroffensive. Read our liveblog for the latest updates on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

04:12am: Ukrainian drones downed near Moscow, Rostov, reports RIA 

A Ukrainian drone was downed near Moscow and two over the southern Rostov region in the early hours of Thursday, the RIA news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying.

According to another news agency, TASS, three buildings were damaged in the city of Rostov-on-Don and one person was injured when one of the drones crashed in the downtown area. The other drone in the Rostov region fell outside the city.

02:15am: US to send controversial depleted-uranium munitions to Ukraine

The Pentagon on Wednesday announced a new security assistance package worth up to $175 million for Ukraine, including depleted uranium ammunition for Abrams tanks, the first time the US is sending the controversial armor-piercing munitions to Kyiv.

Reuters was first to report last week that the rounds, which could help destroy Russian tanks, would form part of a new military aid package for Ukraine, which Russian forces invaded in February 2022.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon said the military aid would also include anti-armor systems, tactical air navigation systems and additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

9:20pm: Blinken announces over $1 billion of new aid to Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced over $1 billion of new assistance to Ukraine, in a package he said would help Ukraine’s counteroffensive “build momentum”.

“Today, we’re announcing new assistance totalling more than one billion dollars … That includes $665.5 million in new military and civilian security assistance,” Blinken said at a press conference with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

Gulliver Cragg reports

7:41pm: US to give Ukraine depleted uranium rounds, says Pentagon

The US will provide depleted uranium tank ammunition to Ukraine as part of a $175 million aid package, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The 120mm rounds are for US M1 Abrams, the Pentagon said in a statement, referring to tanks that Washington has promised to Kyiv.

Read moreDepleted-uranium shells, the armour-busting munitions heading to Ukraine

7:15pm: US to provide Ukraine additional military aid, including air defence systems

The US will provide Ukraine with additional assistance, including munitions and air defence systems, the White House said on Wednesday.

The new military assistance package for Ukraine includes HIMARS missle launch systems, Javelin antitank weapons, Abrams tanks and other weapons systems, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

6:20pm: Deadly market attack overshadows Blinken’s visit

Reporting from Kyiv, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg notes that the deadly Russian attack on a market in eastern Ukraine underscored the security threats facing the country as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv to offer support for its counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion forces.

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Russian strike hits civilian market in Ukraine region of Donetsk killing at least 17

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5:37pm: US will ‘walk side-by-side’ with Ukraine, Blinken tells Zelensky

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the presidential palace in Kyiv.

Zelensky thanked Blinken for Washington’s support for Ukraine’s war effort. “We’re happy that we are not alone. Through this winter, we will go with our partners,” said Zelensky. “Thank you for your financial support, it’s crucial,” he added.

Responding to Zelensky, Blinken said: “We are determined to continue to walk side-by-side with you. President [Joe] Biden asked me to come to reaffirm strongly our support, to ensure that we are maximising the efforts we’re making, that other countries are making, for the immediate challenge of the counteroffensive, as well as the longer-term efforts to help Ukraine build a force for the future that can deter and defend against any future action.”

3:30pm: Ukrainian Catholic bishops rebuke Pope Francis on Russia comments

Ukraine’s Eastern Rite Catholic bishops bluntly told Pope Francis at a meeting on Wednesday that some of his comments about Russia had caused great pain and were being used by Moscow to justify a “a murderous ideology”.

In a statement that was remarkable for its candour, they said their two-hour session with the pope at the Vatican was a “frank conversation”.

At the heart of the dispute are unscripted remarks the pope made to young Russian Catholics in a video conference on August 25. He spoke of past tsars, Peter I and Catherine II, who expanded Russian territory, and told his listeners they were the heirs of the “great Russian empire”.

The comments caused an uproar in Ukraine because Russian President Vladimir Putin has invoked the legacies of the two Russian monarchs in justifying his invasion. 

3:06pm: Romania’s defence minister says Russian drone parts fell on Romanian territory

Romania’s defense minister said Wednesday that pieces apparently of a drone from Russia’s recent attacks on Ukraine’s port on the Danube River have been found on his country’s territory. Romania is a NATO member.

Defence Minister Angel Tilvar told local news channel Antena 3 CNN that parts of what was most likely a drone were discovered in the eastern Tulcea county, an area of the Danube that forms a natural border between Romania and war-torn Ukraine.

“I confirm that in this area, pieces that may be of a drone were found,” he said, adding that the pieces did not pose a threat. 

Tilvar’s comments come after Romania’s Ministry of National Defense “categorically denied” claims made on Monday by the spokesperson of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oleg Nikolenko, who said that Shahed drones launched by Russia on Sunday night fell and exploded on Romanian territory.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis also denied those claims on Tuesday, saying that the attacks were “verified 800 meters (yards) from our border, so very, very close.”

3:02pm: Russian attack on Kostyantynivka hit market, pharmacy, says Zelensky

More details coming in about the Russian attack on Kostyantynivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

The Russian shelling hit a market, shops and a pharmacy, killing civilians, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a post on X, previously known as Twitter.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said in a post on social media that the strike had left 28 people injured. 

Kostyantynivka is a frontline town of an estimated 70,000 people. It has been the epicentre of fighting since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

2:45pm: At least 16 killed in Russian attack in eastern Ukraine, says Zelensky

At least 16 people were killed on Wednesday in a Russian attack on the city of Kostiantynivka in eastern Ukraine, said President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The casualty figures may rise, Zelensky added.

Condemning the attack, Zelensky said: “This Russian evil must be defeated as soon as possible.”

Key developments from Wednesday, September 5:

Ukraine’s parliament on Wednesday approved President Volodymyr Zelensky’s nomination of Rustem Umerov as Kyiv’s new defence minister after the resignation of Oleksiy Reznikov. Umerov vowed to recapture all territory under Russian military control, in his first comments in the new role.

Russia’s central bank announced Wednesday it plans to sharply step up support for the rouble, which has weakened considerably after 18 months of Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

A Russian-appointed official has acknowledged that Moscow’s forces have abandoned the Ukrainian village of Robotyne, more than a week after Kyiv announced its recapture.

The Russian mercenary Wagner Group is set to be proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the UK government, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.

Read yesterday’s live blog to see how the day’s events unfolded.

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© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)