Allies to strengthen Ukrainian defenses

Ukrainian leaders have said they would not be able to defeat Russian forces without help from their Western partners. They said they only had 10% of the weapons they needed. Now these partners have agreed to help.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin chaired a meeting of nearly 50 countries at the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group in Brussels.

Austin urged them to redouble their efforts. He said that whatever help they give to Ukraine is not enough. He added that they will continue to work hard to act as quickly as possible to ensure Ukraine can succeed on the battlefield.

The United States will provide another billion dollars in aid, including howitzers, tactical vehicles and ammunition for rocket systems. The allies agreed to send rocket launchers, artillery and other weapons.

Ukrainian leaders hope the arms shipments will help their troops turn the tide on the battlefield. Forces are struggling to repel an attack in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, where hundreds of people have taken refuge in a chemical plant.

Russian officials said they had opened a “humanitarian corridor” to allow them to flee. However, they said the plan fell apart when Ukrainian troops used civilians as human shields.