As Thursday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Luxembourg's parliament that Russia now occupies about 20% of Ukraine and the Russian army "has already destroyed almost the entire Donbas." He made a plea for more weapons and for more sanctions on Russia. Separately, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba thanked U.S. officials for authorizing $700 million in new military aid, including long-range rocket systems.
The Biden administration plans to sell Ukraine drones that can be armed with Hellfire missiles, a U.S. official confirmed to NPR. The drones, whose sale requires congressional approval, would be a significant upgrade to the smaller, shorter range unmanned aerial systems that Ukraine has been using. President Biden separately met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the military alliance's summit later this month.
The White House also announced new sanctions against Russian officials and oligarchs, aiming to crack down on evasion of existing penalties and crank up the pressure on President Vladimir Putin and his allies. The sanctions are in partnership with 30 other countries, the Biden administration said. They include targets like yachts and yacht brokerages the administration says are connected to Putin and his inner circle.
Ukraine more than doubled its interest rate to 25% in the first hike since the war began. The central bank at first froze its 10% rate but now finally increased it — to the highest level in seven years. The goal is to slow surging inflation and prop up the country's currency, the hryvnia, as the war is expected to shrink Ukraine's economy by more than a third.
The new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, presented her credentials to Zelenskyy and said America would stand with Ukraine as long as it faced Russian aggression. Brink is the first permanent ambassador to Ukraine in three years. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv reopened two weeks ago, having temporarily closed just before Russia invaded in February.
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