Russia claims strike on NATO-supplied weapons depot in Ukraine as West pledges more arms

The Russian military said it used long-range missiles Wednesday to destroy a depot in the western Lviv region of Ukraine where ammunition for NATO-supplied weapons was stored, and the governor of a key eastern city acknowledged that Russian forces are advancing in heavy fighting.

Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment on attack in western Lviv region

The Russian military said it used long-range missiles Wednesday to destroy a depot in the western Lviv region of Ukraine where ammunition for NATO-supplied weapons was stored, and the governor of a key eastern city acknowledged that Russian forces are advancing in heavy fighting.

In the Lviv region near the border with NATO member Poland, Russian forces used high-precision Kalibr missiles to destroy the depot near the town of Zolochiv, Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said.

Konashenkov said shells for M777 howitzers, a type supplied by the United States, were stored there. He said four howitzers were destroyed elsewhere and that Russian airstrikes also destroyed Ukrainian "aviation equipment" at a military aerodrome in the southern Mykolaiv region.

Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment on the Zolochiv strike.

While focusing most of their attacks on Eastern Ukraine, where they are trying to capture large swaths of territory, Russian forces have also been hitting more specific targets elsewhere, using high-precision missiles to disrupt the international supply of weapons and destroy military infrastructure. Civilian infrastructure has been bombarded as well, even though Russian officials have claimed they're only targeting military facilities.

The battle for Severodonetsk in Ukraine's Donbas has become the focus of Russia's offensive in recent weeks. The Donbas is a contested eastern region of Ukraine home to Moscow-backed separatists, and it's where Russia aims to take full control after an initial bid to take the capital Kyiv was thwarted.

Russia-backed separatists accused Ukrainian forces of sabotaging an evacuation of civilians from the city's besieged Azot chemical plant, where about 500 civilians and an unknown number of Ukrainian fighters are believed to be sheltering from missile attacks. It wasn't possible to verify that claim.

Russian officials had announced a humanitarian corridor from the Azot plant a day earlier but said they would take civilians to areas controlled by Russian, not Ukrainian, forces.

The Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, told The Associated Press that "heavy fighting in Severodonetsk continues today as well." The situation in the city is getting worse, Haidai said, because Russian forces have more manpower and weapons.

"But our military is holding back the enemy from three sides at once," he added.

Smoke rises during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the Eastern Ukrainie city of Severodonetsk on Tuesday. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chair of Russia's Security Council, ominously suggested that Russia appears intent on not just claiming territory but eliminating Ukraine as a nation. In a Telegram post, he wrote that he saw Ukraine wants to receive liquefied natural gas from its "overseas masters" with payment due in two years.

He added: "But there's a question. Who said that in two years, Ukraine will even exist on the map?"

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine's president, responded on Twitter: "Ukraine has been and will be. Where will Medvedev be in two years? That's the question."

More weapons pledged

NATO members are pledging to send more and longer-range weapons to Ukraine.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the U.S. will send another $1 billion US in military aid to Ukraine, the largest single tranche of weapons and equipment since the war began. The aid will include anti-ship missile launchers, howitzers and more rounds for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems — all key weapon systems that Ukrainian leaders have urgently requested.

Germany is providing Ukraine with three multiple launch rocket systems of the kind that Kyiv has said it urgently needs to defend against Russia's invasion. Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said Wednesday that Germany will transfer three M270 medium-range artillery rocket systems along with ammunition.

Germany said the transfer, which echoes similar moves by Britain and the United States, will be accompanied by training and will have "a swift and significant battlefield impact."

In recent days, Ukrainian officials have spoken of the heavy human cost of the war, with Kyiv's forces outgunned and outnumbered in the east.

WATCH | Ukraine's soldiers struggle to cope under increasing strain: 

Ukraine's soldiers struggle to cope under increasing strain

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Biden for the new aid package.

"The security support of the United States is unprecedented," he said, reporting on a phone call the two leaders held earlier Wednesday. "It brings us closer to a common victory over the Russian aggressor."

Zelensky said he has accepted invitations to speak at the NATO and Group of Seven summits at the end of the month.

Locals clear debris after a strike in the Donbas city of Dobropillia on Wednesday. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

"During the 112 days of this war, the Ukrainian army has proved that courage and wisdom on the battlefield, together with the ability to tactically outmanoeuvre the enemy, can have a significant result, even despite the Russian army's significant advantage in number of soldiers and equipment," he said in his nightly video address.

"Of course we are doing everything we can to overcome this advantage. Every day I fight for Ukraine to receive the weapons and equipment we need."