Ukraine says it needs more weapons soon, argues its paying 'a very high price' as defender of democracy

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Ukrainian officials on Thursday said Kyiv needs more weapons as its war with Russia ensues for a fifth week, arguing it has shouldered the burden as the defender of “the values of a democratic world.”

American troops have been training Ukrainian forces to effectively use weaponry like Javelins, stingers, and grenade launchers, and the U.S. has pledged more than $2.5 billion in security assistance and humanitarian aid.

In this image taken from footage provided by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service, a Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with US Javelin missiles during military exercises in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. 

In this image taken from footage provided by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service, a Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with US Javelin missiles during military exercises in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. 
(Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)

UKRAINE INSISTS RUSSIA MUST WITHDRAW COMPLETELY BEFORE SIGNING PEACE AGREEMENT

But Ukraine continues to push the U.S. and NATO for more as security officials warn Russia is re-evaluating its strategy in the war-torn nation. 

“We do not have enough weapons. And we need it to continue our struggle,” Head of the President’s Office Andriy Yermak said in an interview with Christiane Amanpour. “The whole world can see that Ukrainians are a nation that will never stop fighting because we are fighting for our land. We are fighting for our country. We are fighting for the whole democratic world.”

Russia announced this week that it would remove forces from around the capital city of Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv to “increase mutual trust” in its peace talks with Ukraine. 

Ukrainian soldiers of the 103rd Separate Brigade of the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces, fire their weapons, during a training exercise, at an undisclosed location, near Lviv, western Ukraine, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. 

Ukrainian soldiers of the 103rd Separate Brigade of the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces, fire their weapons, during a training exercise, at an undisclosed location, near Lviv, western Ukraine, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

But the U.S. and Ukraine have voiced skepticism over Moscow’s true aim in moving its troops.  

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Wednesday that security officials have only seen roughly 20 percent of Russian troops repositioned and warned none of them have been sent back to their home garrisons.

“If the Russians are serious about deescalating – because that’s their claim here – then they should send them home. But they’re not doing that, at least not yet,” he said. 

A view of destroyed buildings and vehicles after Russian attacks on a shopping mall, in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 21, 2022. It is reported that, 8 people were killed in the Russian attack on shopping mall. 

A view of destroyed buildings and vehicles after Russian attacks on a shopping mall, in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 21, 2022. It is reported that, 8 people were killed in the Russian attack on shopping mall. 
(Photo by Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

US WARY OF RUSSIA PULLBACK ANNOUNCEMENT, WARNS AGAINST ANNEXING EASTERN UKRAINE

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned in an address this week that Kyiv has not seen Russia’s force posture change around the city, and argued Moscow is repositioning its troops not withdrawing them.

Kirby also said it is Washington’s assessment that Russia is looking “refit these troops” by resupplying them and then deploying them elsewhere in Ukraine.

“We believe they have changed their strategy and plans. Unfortunately, this does not mean stopping the war. I can say that the situation remains pretty difficult. I especially want to dwell on the humanitarian situation – everything is very bad,” Yermak said in reference to humanitarian blockades in the eastern part of the country. 

A volunteer of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces looks at a dead body of a soldier lying in a forest in the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, Monday, March 7, 2022. 

A volunteer of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces looks at a dead body of a soldier lying in a forest in the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Monday, March 7, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Andrew Marienko)

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Security officials believe Russia will look to hone in on the Donbas region after failing to take Kyiv or other strategic cities across Ukraine. 

But Ukrainian officials have pledged to protect their territorial integrity. 

Peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow are set to resume Friday. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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