Shoigu inspects frontline Russian troops in Donetsk
As Kiev forces struggle in Bakhmout, the US offers Ukraine $400 million in military aid.
Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has inspected troops in frontline regions after the United States offered more support to Kiev whose forces are struggling in Bakhmut.
Shoigu inspected an advance command post in the direction of the south of the Donetsk Region, the Russian Defense Ministry announced, without specifying exactly where or when.
"Russian Defense Minister Shoigu held a meeting with the commanders of the special military operation groups. He heard commanders' reports on the current situation in their areas of responsibility, as well as plans for future actions," the statement said.
It posted a rare video of the Russian minister traveling in a helicopter and talking to a soldier in front of damaged buildings.
According to the Defense Ministry, Shoigu handed state awards to servicemen and held a meeting with his deputies "on organizing the uninterrupted provision of troops with armaments, military hardware, and ordnance."
The visit came with fierce fighting ongoing around Bakhmut, the longest battle of the conflict.
On Friday, Wagner Private Military Company chef Yevgeny Prigozhin said his fighters had "practically encircled" the city. He also directly called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to abandon Bakhmut.
On his part, Zelensky has pledged to defend "fortress Bakhmut" for as long as possible, calling on allies to intensify their support to help his troops do so.
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US offers Ukraine $400 million in military aid
On Saturday, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola visited Ukraine, where she met with Zelensky and called for Kiev to be allowed to begin its EU membership negotiations this year.
"The task is to actively prepare everything for our country's EU membership, increase the supply of weapons to Ukraine, and strengthen sanctions against Russia," Zelensky said in his daily address after the meeting.
US President Joe Biden on Friday hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his first visit since the start of the Ukraine war, in a display of partnership after friction over supplying tanks to Ukraine.
Ahead of the meeting, the Kremlin warned that Western weapon deliveries to Kiev would only "prolong the conflict and have sad consequences for the Ukrainian people."
However, the United States responded by offering Ukraine another $400 million in military assistance. The new military package features ammunition -- including for the HIMARS precision rocket system.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov praised the package as "a solid investment in the future success of the Ukrainian army on the battlefield."
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Increasingly difficult situation around Bakhmut
But in the east, Zelensky and several Ukrainian officials recognized an increasingly difficult situation around Bakhmut this week.
Sergiy Cherevaty, a spokesperson for Ukrainian forces, said the situation was "difficult but under control" in the city he described as a "priority target" for Russian forces.
On the other hand, the British Defense Ministry's intelligence update on Saturday indicated that Ukraine was "under increasingly severe pressure, with intense fighting taking place in and around" Bakhmout.
It added that "Ukrainian-held resupply routes out of the town are increasingly limited" and Wagner's troops and the Russian military had advanced in the northern suburbs of the city, which was now "vulnerable to Russian attacks on three sides."
The intelligence update also said that two key bridges in the town had been destroyed, including a vital bridge connecting the city to the last main supply route from Bakhmut to the city of Chasiv Yar.
Russian security services said a group of Ukrainian combatants had crossed into the southern Bryansk Region and opened fire on a car, killing two civilians and wounding a child. Kiev dismissed the announcement as a "deliberate provocation".
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