Russia Bombards Eastern Ukraine as Zelenskyy Meets With Top US Officials

Russia bombarded eastern Ukraine Sunday, including a steel factory in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with two top American officials in Kyiv, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces launched a new airstrike on the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces have been holed up and defiantly refusing Russian demands to surrender.

Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a tight blockade of the facility that Russian forces have struggled to take over from perhaps thousands of Ukraine fighters and civilians who have remained in control of the plant with its labyrinth of tunnels and passageways.

Zelenskyy announced the visit of Blinken and Austin to the Ukrainian capital Saturday evening, although Washington declined to confirm the trip of what would be the highest-ranking officials to go to Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor two months ago.

Late Sunday, the Ukraine president’s office announced that Blinken and Austin were meeting with Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

In a lengthy Saturday night news conference in a Kyiv subway station, Zelenskyy said he was looking for the Americans to produce results, both in terms of arms and security guarantees.

“You can’t come to us empty-handed today, and we are expecting not just presents or some kind of cakes, we are expecting specific things and specific weapons,” he said. U.S. President Joe Biden in each of the last two weeks has approved $800 million in shipments of more arms for Ukraine, along $500 million in economic assistance.

With congressional approval for military assistance for Ukraine nearly exhausted, Biden said he would seek approval for more aid, part of the West’s arming of Ukraine in its fight against Russia that falls short of sending troops to fight alongside Ukrainian forces.

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