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Ukraine updates: US to send further $725 million in weapons

October 15, 2022

Washington is sending another round of military aid to refill Ukraine's weapons stocks, including more HIMARS rocket systems. Meanwhile, Iran denies sending Russia weapons. DW has the latest.

A HIMARS vehicle during military exercises in Riga, Latvia
High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) have played a key role in Ukraine's defense against the Russian invasion forcesImage: Roman Koksarov/AP/picture alliance

Washington has announced that it will send more arms and munitions to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion.

The package worth a total of $725 million (€745 million) will include HIMARS mobile rocket launch systems — the long-range artillery weapons that played a key role in the Ukrainian counteroffensive in September.

It will also include more munitions, armored vehicles and medical supplies, the White House said. The aim of the package is to restock Ukrainian supplies rather than provide any new types of weapons.

"We will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence with extraordinary courage and boundless determination," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

"The capabilities we are delivering are carefully calibrated to make the most difference on the battlefield for Ukraine."

This new package comes after an agreement among NATO members to increase procurement of air defense systems following Russia's bombardment of Ukrainian cities in response to the destruction of the Kerch bridge connecting occupied Crimea to mainland Russia.

US military assistance to Ukraine under President Joe Biden has reached $18.3 billion.

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on October 15.

Several killed in shooting at Russian military training ground

At least 11 people were killed and another 15 injured when two volunteer soldiers opened fire at a military training ground in the Russian city of Belgorod on Saturday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the attackers were from a former Soviet state but did not say which one.

The two soldiers fired on other soldiers at the training ground before they themselves were shot and killed.

The Defense Ministry has called it a terrorist attack.

France to train up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers

France will train up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers on its territory, Minister for the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview.

The soldiers will "be taken into our units for several weeks," he said, adding that there would be three levels of training: general combat, "specific needs outlined by the Ukrainians such as logistics" and then training on how to use defense materiel furnished by Ukraine's Western allies.

He said this would be done within the confines of international law, and would "never become co-belligerence because we are not at war. We are helping a country that is at war" following Russia's invasion.

France will also provide Ukraine with Crotale air defense systems, he said, without specifying how many.

Russian strike hits key infrastructure in Kyiv

A missile strike hit an important energy facility near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Saturday, regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.

He added that nobody was killed or wounded, but repair teams had been sent to restore power.

The electricity company Ukrenergo warned of possible outages while Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office, asked residents in the Kyiv area to restrict energy use during peak hours from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The strike comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that there was no longer a need for massive strikes on Ukraine following a week of missiles targeting infrastructure as well as civilian centers.

Fuel depot in Russia near border with Ukraine catches fire

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Russian region of Belgorod that borders Ukraine, sought to place blame on Ukraine for a fire at a fuel depot.

The fire, near the city of Belgorod, was the result of shelling, the governor said. It is a key bottleneck for Russian forces being sent into Ukraine.

On Telegram, Gladkov wrote, "Emergency services are already battling the fire." He added that there is "no danger" that the fire could spread and posted an image of flames and clouds of black smoke rising from the site.

Russian state-run Tass news agency reported that local emergency services said one of ten tanks with residual diesel fuel had caught fire.

Ukrainian ambassador Melnyk departs Berlin

The long-serving Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk left Berlin on Saturday to return to Kyiv. His replacement, Oleksii Makeiev, is expected to take over on Monday.

Melnyk was appointed to Berlin in 2015 and has become something of a public figure since the Russian invasion. He has been outspoken in his criticism of Germany's response, but he also garnered criticism himself for some of his comments, most notably telling Chancellor Olaf Scholz not to act like an "offended liver sausage" due to a diplomatic incident between Kyiv and Berlin.

First Russian troops arrive in Belarus for joint forces

The first Russian soldiers who are set to make up a joint regional military group with their Belarusian counterparts have arrived in Belarus, President Aleksander Lukashenko confirmed on Saturday.

Lukashenko, who declared victory in a 2020 election that was declared fraudulent by many Western leaders, agreed to form a joint military grouping with Russia after claiming increased tensions with neighboring Ukraine.

While Russian troops used Belarus as a launchpad for the invasion in February, Belarusian troops have so far not joined the conflict.

The current or final number of Russian troops expected to join Belarus has not been made official, but opposition figures have suggested the number could be as high as 120,000. Belarus in turn could mobilize between 45,000 and 100,000, the opposition estimates.

German cardinal condemns Russian Patriarch Kyrill's "holy war"

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich has criticized the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kyrill I for his support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Marx said Kyrill represented the concept of the "holy war," something he had thought was "behind us," in comments made in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag and reported by the Catholic news agency KNA.

Marx also talked about differing opinions on German weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

"I find it bad that pacifists are being denigrated as idiots," he said, referring to people who have argued against sending weapons.

"Weapons deliveries may currently be the lesser evil that one has to agree to — I'm personally not a pacifist and I can't see a better way," the cardinal said.

Russian reservists likely buying own body armor, UK says

Logistics problems continue to plague Russian forces, according to the UK Ministry of Defence's daily intelligence update.

"Many reservists are likely required to purchase their own body armour," the update said, saying that those who had been called up were "almost certainly" worse equipped than the troops that were initially deployed to Ukraine.

The "modern 6B45 vest" was selling online for 40,000 rubles (€657, $638) and has more than tripled its price since April, according to the ministry.

"Endemic corruption and poor logistics remain one of the underlying causes of Russia's poor performance in Ukraine," the intelligence update concluded.

Iran denies sending weapons to Russia

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell that Iran is not sending weapons to either side in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"We have defense cooperation with Russia, but our policy on the Ukraine war is against sending weapons to the conflicting sides and support an end to the war and the people's displacement," he said in a phone call with Borrell, according to a statement from the ministry published on Saturday.

Kyiv has downgraded Tehran's diplomatic presence in Ukraine after it said Iranian-made Shahid drones had been used by Russian forces.

Germany's foreign minister warns migration could be used in Russia's hybrid war

Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, told her Greens party conference in Bonn that Russia might weaponize migration as part of its hybrid war against Europe.

Baerbock told her fellow party members, "This war is not only waged with weapons, it is also waged with energy and for that, we have found an answer. But it will also be waged with fear and division, and that is precisely what we have to prevent."

"In this situation it is clear what will be next — refugees and not refugees from Ukraine," she said, adding, " because this war is hybrid, other countries are also participating."

Baerbock said Serbia has let in planeloads of migrants without visas due to its position outside the EU's free travel Schengen area. Serbia has a relatively relaxed visa policy towards other parts of the world, especially countries once considered part of the non-aligned movement.

The route through Serbia has been used by migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa headed to Western Europe. While not as many migrants are moving through the Balkans as in 2015 when Germany took in more than one million people, thousands still traverse the route each year.

Catch up on DW's coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Germany had made a "mistake" in standing with NATO while also claiming that Russia was "doing everything right" in its war of aggression against Ukraine.

DW reports on Putin's full speech from Kazakhstan.

There have been several varying claims about the cause of the explosion that destroyed the Kerch Bridge which connects Russia with the illegally occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

DW checks the facts behind the claims.

ar, ab/dj (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP, KNA)