Lisa Haseldine Lisa Haseldine

Zelensky feels the pressure as Russian offensive intensifies

Volodymyr Zelensky (Credit: Getty images)

Volodymyr Zelensky this morning cancelled all of his upcoming foreign trips. He was scheduled to travel to Madrid on Friday to meet King Felipe VI. The news was announced by the president’s press secretary, and comes as Ukrainian troops struggle to hold back a renewed offensive by Russia in the Kharkiv region.

Recognising the urgency of the situation, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, who has been in Kyiv this week, said the US would provide another $2 billion (£1.6 billion) in funds on top of the $60 billion aid package signed off by Joe Biden earlier this month.

The fighting in the Kharkiv region has been intensifying for days. It’s centred around Vovchansk, a town 45 miles from the regional capital of Kharkiv. Zelensky yesterday claimed the situation was ‘under control’.

However, some Ukrainian units have already withdrawn from the battleground to more ‘advantageous positions’. More than 7,500 locals, meanwhile, have left the town. Zelensky’s team believe Russia is trying to split the Ukrainian defences, spread their available resources thinner and force them to fight on multiple fronts.

Blinken appeared last night at a bar in Kyiv, where he played with Ukrainian musicians for a few numbers, including Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’. Concluding his visit this morning, he said: ‘We’re rushing ammunition, armoured vehicles, missiles, air defences to get them to the front lines. For anyone who is tempted to bet against Ukraine, don’t. It will be a big mistake.’

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