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Ukraine war: Blinken assures Black Sea allies of US support, Russian strikes hit Donbas and Kherson

Russian Black Sea fleet ships are anchored in one of the bays of Sevastopol, Crimea, March 31, 2014.
Russian Black Sea fleet ships are anchored in one of the bays of Sevastopol, Crimea, March 31, 2014. Copyright AP/Copyright 2014 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright AP/Copyright 2014 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Blinken has told allied countries that border the Black Sea they can rely on Washington's support, as Russia's war in Ukraine grinds on.

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Top US diplomat Anthony Blinken assured allies bordering the Black Sea on Monday that they could depend on his country's support to make the region more secure, prosperous and integrated.

Allied states Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine border the Black Sea. Russia does too. 

Addressing attendees of the Second Black Sea Security Conference in Bulgaria, Blinken underscored the importance of investing in regional security to ensure peace and freedom across Europe.

Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula - on the northern coast of the Black Sea - in 2014. It has served as a key hub supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine which President Vladimir Putin ordered in February 2022.

A tank in Ukraine.
A tank in Ukraine.Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

“Putin believed that Ukraine’s neighbours in the region would be divided, but he was wrong,” Blinken said. 

"The United States will continue to support Ukraine both so it can defend itself today and stand on its feet,” he added.

Bilnken's Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, said Kyiv needed essential military support, including artillery, ammunition and air defence systems to bolster its capacity in the face of the Kremlin’s attacks. 

Russian strikes across Sloviansk, Dnipro and Kherson

Russian shelling continued across central and eastern Ukraine on Monday, with strikes in Sloviansk, Dnipro and Kherson.

Apartment blocks in Sloviansk were damaged, with more than 85 disconnected from their gas supply with a pipeline hit in the strike. 

Russia's military shelled 12 settlements on the right bank of the Kherson region in southeastern Ukraine.  

A Ukrainian serviceman smokes a cigarette.
A Ukrainian serviceman smokes a cigarette.Alex Babenko/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Russian army shells hit residential buildings, critical infrastructure and gas pipelines on Sunday.  

Three people were injured in Russian attacks, according to Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of the Kherson Regional State Administration. 

In Dnipro, 35 private homes were destroyed by Russian missiles. 

A total of 13 people, including a child, were injured, detailed Serhiy Lysak, chief of the regional military administration. 

Delays in US military assistance hinder Kyiv's forces: Analysts

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has warned that delays in Western military aid will increasingly hamper Ukraine’s ability to push back Russian advances.

In its daily intelligence briefing, the US-based think tank said Russian forces were prioritising grinding, tactical gains. 

Moscow's operational-level efforts focused on the cities of Lyman, Chasiv Yar, and Pokrovsk in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, meanwhile. 

“The Russian military command likely assesses that Ukrainian forces will be unable to defend against current and future Russian offensive operations due to delays in or the permanent end of US military assistance,” the ISW said.

With the war in Ukraine entering its third year and a vital US aid package for Kyiv stuck in Congress, Russia has used its edge in firepower and personnel to step up attacks across eastern Ukraine. 

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It has increasingly used satellite-guided gliding bombs - dropped from planes from a safe distance - to pummel Ukrainian forces beset by a shortage of troops and ammunition.

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