NATO pledged unlimited military support to Ukraine on Sunday, as Finland hailed its ‘historic’ bid to join the alliance and the West claimed Russia had suffered heavy losses in its push. is.
The promise came after Finland abandoned decades of military non-alignment for a bulwark against Russia, reshaping the balance of power in Europe and angering the Kremlin.
On the ground in Ukraine, Russia announced airstrikes in the east, as well as in Lviv, near the Polish border in the west which largely escaped destruction elsewhere.
At a meeting of alliance foreign ministers in Berlin, Germany’s Annalena Baerbock said she would provide military assistance ‘as long as Ukraine needs this support for the self-defense of her country’ .
“Ukraine can win this war. Ukrainians bravely defend their homeland,” added NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
Finland’s decision to join NATO is expected to be followed by neighboring Sweden as early as Monday, despite concerns from member state Turkey which has accused the two countries of harboring Kurdish extremists.
Stoltenberg said the alliance would seek to provide the two with interim security guarantees while requests are processed, possibly including increasing troops in the area.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Berlin for talks between NATO foreign ministers, said he heard “almost widespread and very strong support” for the candidacies.
The Kremlin insists the Nordic countries have nothing to fear, in apparent retaliation, cut off the power supply to Finland, with which it shares a 1,300km border.
Previously, Western intelligence had claimed that Russia had suffered huge military losses in Ukraine and would be bogged down in the strategic East due to strong local resistance.
Away from the conflict, Ukraine was basking in the morale-boosting glory of winning its entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, the world’s biggest live music event.
On the battlefield, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have carried out “high precision” missile strikes on four artillery ammunition depots in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.
Airstrikes also destroyed two missile launchers and a radar, while 15 Ukrainian drones were shot down around Donetsk and Lugansk, he added.
In Lviv, regional governor Maksym Kozytsky said four Russian missiles hit military infrastructure near the border with Poland.
No casualties were reported and the Ukrainian Armed Forces said they destroyed two cruise missiles over the area.
Lviv was last hit by Russian missiles on May 3.
British defense chiefs said the Russian offensive in the eastern Donbass region had “lost momentum”.
Demoralized Russian troops had failed to make substantial gains and Moscow’s battle plan was “significantly behind schedule”, UK Defense Intelligence said.
“Russia has now probably suffered losses of a third of the ground combat force it committed in February.”
Accurate and reliable casualty figures have been difficult to obtain, with Ukraine and Russia regularly releasing reports of enemy deaths.
kyiv claims its troops have killed nearly 20,000 Russian soldiers. On March 25, Moscow said its forces had killed at least 14,000 Ukrainian servicemen.