An explosion has derailed a second train in the Bryansky region of Russia adjacent to Ukraine and Belarus. The White House estimates 20,000 Russians have been killed in eastern Ukraine since December. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said almost half of them were part of the Wagner Group mercenary force. The head of the Wagner Group says his fighters aren't getting the supplies they need due to the lack of support from Moscow. Ukrainian troops are pushing back against Russian troops in the beleaguered city of Bakhmut, launching counterattacks that have forced Russian soldiers to abandon some positions.
The United States is sending Ukraine about $300 million in military aid, with the official announcement expected as early as Wednesday, U.S. officials said, as Ukraine gears up for a spring counteroffensive.
The package will include rounds for artillery, howitzers, along with rockets for HIMARS, mortars, missiles and anti-tank rifles.
For the first time, the U.S. is sending Hydra-70 rockets, which are launched from aircraft and could be used in air support for advancing Ukraine ground forces.
The weapons will come from Pentagon stocks and resemble earlier deliveries.
The 37th shipment of arms to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, February 2022, comes as Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Ukraine is in the “home stretch, when we can say: ‘Yes everything is ready.'”
Second attack in Russia
For the second day in a row, an explosion on Tuesday in a Russian region bordering Ukraine caused a freight train to derail, the local governor said in a social media post, but there were no casualties.
“An unidentified explosive device went off near the Snezhetskaya railway station. There were no casualties,” Bryansk regional governor Alexander Bogomaz wrote on Telegram.
“As a result of the incident, a locomotive and several wagons of a freight train derailed,” he added, without saying who was responsible.
Russian authorities say the region, which borders Ukraine and Belarus, has seen multiple attacks by pro-Ukrainian sabotage groups in the 14 months since Russia invaded.
An explosion went off Monday in the same region, also causing a train to derail.
Both sides have denied targeting civilians since the Russian invasion on Ukraine began in February 2022.
In an interview Tuesday in The Washington Post, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the White House did not inform him about a leak of secret U.S. documents last month.
“I did not receive information from the White House or the Pentagon beforehand,” Zelenskyy told The Post.
Of the leak, he said, “It is not beneficial to the reputation of the White House, and I believe it is not beneficial to the reputation of the United States.”
The materials posted online included a snapshot of the war in Ukraine. The New York Times first reported on the leaked documents on April 6.
On April 12, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said the Pentagon document leaks contained a mixture of true and false information about his country’s military and downplayed its negative impact, Reuters reported.
In response to Zelenskyy’s comments, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council told Reuters: “We are in constant communication with our Ukrainian counterparts about a range of issues, including over the unauthorized disclosures, but we aren’t going to get into the details of those private discussions.”
A Pentagon spokesperson said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken to a number of allies, including Reznikov, regarding the issue.
Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.