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Russian Advance on Kharkiv Strengthens Coalition in Support of Ukraine

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Photo: Antony Blinken deployed harsh rhetoric in Kyiv against the backdrop of Russian escalation in the Kharkiv region: "...the United States will provide Ukraine with an additional $2 billion in foreign military financing." Source: X(Twitter) Antony Blinken
Photo: Antony Blinken deployed harsh rhetoric in Kyiv against the backdrop of Russian escalation in the Kharkiv region: "...the United States will provide Ukraine with an additional $2 billion in foreign military financing." Source: X(Twitter) Antony Blinken

"Putin launches another offensive against Ukraine in Kharkiv and the east – wave after wave sending Russian soldiers, Iranian drones, North Korean artillery, as well as tanks, missiles, and fighters made from machines and parts supplied by China," announced Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv during his address. This statement came amid the echoes of heavy fighting still ongoing in the Kharkiv region (northeastern Ukraine), where the front line clashes with Russian military units have resumed.


Russian troops first entered the Kharkiv region in February 2022. However, Ukrainian forces later pushed them out practically from the entire region later that year, with only small occupied areas remaining in the far east of the region. Positional battles continue there to this day. But on the night of May 10, Russian forces once again penetrated deep into Ukrainian territory. They advanced 20 kilometers north of Kharkiv, a city with a population of one and a half million. The small town of Vovchansk, 73 kilometers east of Kharkiv, also came under attack at the same time.


The second-largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv, has been under heavy bombardment and shelling since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, pushing it to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. In recent months, all power stations and major heating plants, which are supposed to provide heating for residential and other buildings during the cold season from mid-October onwards, have been destroyed. All of this poses a challenge for Ukraine and its partners. It's also a tool of pressure from the Kremlin, whose key aim appears to be freezing the conflict temporarily on its terms. Moscow seems to be trying to force Ukraine and its partners to accept the norms Russia has introduced into its constitution, asserting Russia's ownership of Crimea, as well as Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.


Blinken's bold statement in Kyiv linked the Kremlin's ability to escalate aggressive actions against Ukraine with support of Russia from Iran and China. This significant signal was sent just a day before Russian so-called President Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing. This signal seems to have once again warned Beijing against its imprudent position, albeit in a fairly blunt manner. It appears that Washington is shifting from soft hints and invitations to return to constructive dialogue to rather sharp rhetoric in its communication with Beijing. This comes after a more than demonstrative gesture of support for Taiwan in April when the relevant law supporting it was signed as part of a large security package of laws.


Blinken also announced a new fund to support Ukraine's defense and defense industry: "The United States will provide Ukraine with an additional $2 billion in foreign military financing."

Another powerful signal came from Brussels, where on May 16, a meeting of the NATO Military Committee Chiefs of Defense took place at NATO headquarters. During the meeting, 32 chiefs of staff of the Alliance focused on developing new defense plans, transforming combat operations, and further supporting Ukraine. If we translate the official language of the report on this meeting into concrete actions, we can see that NATO, firstly, closely studies and adapts for further use the experience of Ukraine's defense against Russia. Secondly, the bloc significantly increases signals about its readiness for coordinated defense efforts.


In particular, Chairman of the Military Committee Admiral Rob Bauer emphasized that "the integration of NATO and national military planning will allow us to do exactly what the NATO flag symbolizes: all Alliance members will follow the same compass."


Photo: The meeting of the NATO Military Committee Chiefs of Defense demonstrated that the Alliance closely studies and adapts for further use the experience of Ukraine's defense against Russia. Source: NATO


After the Military Committee meeting, a Ukraine-NATO Council meeting was held in the format of defense ministers with the participation of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Major General Anatoliy Barhylevych. Admiral Bauer stated during the meeting that Ukraine has demonstrated to the world that it is capable of achieving unprecedented success on the battlefield. "There is nothing they cannot do. All they need... is our help."


It seems that in the coming weeks, if not days, an announcement will be made about the deployment project of long-awaited multi-role F-16 fighters and other assets in Ukraine, which Kyiv hopes will change the game on the front line, which has been stagnant for almost a year and a half since the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the autumn of 2022.


Recent weeks have shown that an effective coalition in support of Ukraine is forming, comprising developed countries that perceive Russian aggression as a real threat to themselves.


"You have a truly global coalition standing behind you, made up of countries that see your security and, in turn, European security as their main interest... Countries that know that allowing Putin to redraw borders by force will embolden potential aggressors worldwide," Blinken declared in Kyiv.


He also recalled the words of Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who, in his address to the US Congress, announced that "today's Ukraine could be tomorrow's East Asia."


The Russian attempt to advance in the Kharkiv region, which has already been overwhelmed, has only crystallized and strengthened this trend of coalition efforts to restore normalcy to the world order.

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