Latest on Ukraine: Ukraine makes some gains; China's defense minister visits Russia
Here's a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week.
What to watch
China's Defense Minister Li Shangfu is visiting Russia and Belarus this week. "The two countries will continue to advance the China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership in the new era," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said of the Moscow visit. Beijing has not publicly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and took part earlier this month in a Saudi-hosted peace summit to which Russia was not invited.
Germany's Finance Minister Christian Lindner is in Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian officials. Germany has provided Ukraine with some $24 billion in aid since the start of the war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to address the Defense Ministry's annual Moscow Conference on International Security, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will speak at the opening on Tuesday.
At Russia's request, the U.N. Security Council will discuss the conflict in Ukraine on Thursday.
What happened last week
Ukraine's counteroffensive inched forward. Ukraine's military said over the weekend it had advanced around 10 square miles toward two key cities.
Russia and Ukraine continued to trade drone and missile attacks. Russian missile strikes hit apartment buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk on Monday, leaving several dead and scores injured. Ukrainian authorities said Russia attacked the southern port cities of Odesa and Mykolaiv with drones, causing damage and injuries. Meanwhile, Ukrainian missiles targeted the Kerch bridge, according to Russia's defense ministry. Russia says there was no damage to the bridge, which serves as a key link and supply route between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula. Russia also said it repelled a wave of Ukrainian drone attacks, with targets including Moscow.
Ukraine announced the creation of a Black Sea humanitarian corridor so that cargo ships that have been stuck since the war began can safely leave Ukrainian ports. Russia quit the United Nations-brokered Black Sea grain shipment deal last month, and has escalated attacks on Ukrainian ports ever since. Over the weekend, a Russian warship fired warning shots at a cargo vessel in the Black Sea. Russians boarded the vessel, inspected it, then sent it on its way — but its destination was not clear.
President Biden asked Congress to approve billions in additional aid to Ukraine. But far-right Republicans and the left of the Democratic Party are skeptical about providing more funding.
Poland's defense minister said Thursday that his country would deploy 10,000 troops to the border with Belarus. Tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent weeks, following the deployment of Wagner Group mercenaries to Belarus. On Sunday, Britain's defense ministry tweeted that "there is a realistic possibility" that Russia is no longer funding Wagner — and "the second most plausible paymasters are the Belarusian authorities."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired the heads of regional military recruitment centers on Friday, saying, "Corruption in military recruiting will be eliminated. The heads of all regional recruitment centers will be fired and replaced by brave warriors who have lost their health on the frontlines but have maintained their dignity."
Russian authorities unveiled new high school textbooks that depict Ukraine as an "ultranationalist government" which persecutes those who dissent, and Russian speakers in particular. The textbooks describe the goals of the Russian invasion as "defense of the Donbas and guaranteeing Russia's security."
Russia launched its first lunar expedition in nearly half a century, in hopes of becoming the first nation to reach the moon's south pole, which scientists believe may hold significant concentrations of water ice. The launch was planned long before the war in Ukraine began, but Russia is touting it as a symbol of national achievement despite Western sanctions targeting the country's aerospace industry.
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