White House pushes defense industries on tech help for Ukraine

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy greets White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Kyiv, Nov. 4, 2022. Sullivan convened a meeting on Jan 8, 2024, on new technological capabilities to aid Ukraine. [AP Photo]

White House officials met Monday with leaders from the technology and defense industry sectors to discuss how to give Ukraine cutting-edge U.S. equipment such as unmanned aerial systems or demining gear and support its bid to defend itself from Russia, according to U.S. National Security Council aides.

Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, convened the five-hour meeting between industry experts and government officials on new technological capabilities that would allow Ukraine to detect and counter Russian unmanned aerial systems and demine large areas in Ukraine as President Joe Biden’s more than $100 billion supplemental aid package, which includes support for Ukraine, languishes in Congress.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged European Union countries on Monday to offer more military and financial assistance to Ukraine. He criticized EU member states for not delivering sufficient weapons to Kyiv and called on them to do more.

Although Germany lagged in its support to Ukraine at the beginning of the war, it is now one of the top providers of weapons and financial aid. Late last year, the country agreed to double its military aid for Ukraine in 2024 to $8.8 billion.

"As significant as the German contribution is, it will not be enough to ensure Ukraine’s security in the long run," Scholz said at a news conference in Berlin.

Russian air defense units downed 10 shells approaching the city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border Monday. Three residents were injured in the shelling, regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.

Belgorod has come under Ukrainian attacks in recent weeks. A missile and drone attack late last month killed 25 civilians, including five children.

Earlier, Russia resumed its winter bombardment strategy, pummeling several areas across Ukraine on Monday with its largest hypersonic and cruise missiles and killing at least four people while injuring 30 others.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces had used precision sea-launched and air-launched long-range missiles, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, to strike what it called “facilities of Ukraine’s military-industrial complex.”

Western officials and analysts had warned that Russia was stockpiling its cruise missiles to target mainly Ukraine’s defense industry this winter, as opposed to the country’s infrastructure last winter. But so far, Russian strikes have frequently hit civilian areas.

Missiles, drones shot down

Ukraine’s air force said the country’s air defenses had shot down 18 cruise missiles and eight Shahed drones launched by Russia.

The Ukrainian air force said the targets of the missiles included “critical infrastructure facilities,” as well as civilian and military industrial sites. It also noted that not all missiles that were not intercepted reached their targets.

Oleksiy Kuleba, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidency, said Russian missiles had struck a shopping center and high-rise buildings in Kryvyi Rih, the south-central city that is the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Kuleba said one person was killed.

In the western region of Khmelnytskyi, officials said, a Russian missile strike killed at least two people.

Oleg Synegubov, the regional governor of the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine, said one person was killed in the city of Zmiiv.

Zelenskyy expressed confidence Sunday that Russia could be defeated and warned that the war in Ukraine had shown that Europe should develop a joint weapons production with Ukraine and build a sufficient weapons arsenal for its defense.

“Two years of this war have proven that Europe needs its own sufficient arsenal for the defense of freedom. Its own capabilities to ensure defense. Its own potential that will allow all of Europe, or any part of it, to stand and preserve itself under any global situation,” he said.

Zelenskyy made the comments via a video link at a Stockholm defense conference, while Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom expressed his country’s commitment to support Kyiv.

Japan also pledged its support to Kyiv on Sunday when Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa made an unannounced visit, becoming the first official foreign visitor in the Ukrainian capital in 2024.

Kamikawa, who was forced into a bomb shelter by an air alert in Kyiv, condemned Russia’s missile and drone attacks on civilians, adding that her country would provide an additional $37 million to a NATO trust fund to help purchase drone-detection systems.