Ukraine’s leader meets Pentagon chief and media boss to shore up US support

Finland blames Russia for migrant surge and closes four border crossings

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has met US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and Lachlan Murdoch, the head of influential media group Fox Corp, as he tries to shore up US military and political support before a second full winter of all-out war with Russia.

Mr Zelenskiy’s office said he told Mr Austin “about the current situation at the front, the strategic goals and priority needs of Ukraine’s defence forces [and] the urgency of continuing an uninterrupted supply from allies of all required weapons and ammunition”.

He also “emphasised the need to strengthen Ukraine’s capabilities ahead of the winter season”, when Russia is expected to repeat last winter’s intense air attacks on Ukraine’s power grid and other critical infrastructure.

Mr Austin assured Mr Zelenskiy that US aid would continue to flow to Kyiv, 21 months into a full-scale Russian invasion that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions of Ukrainians, despite growing resistance from some Republicans.


“We, along with our allies and partners, will continue to support Ukraine’s urgent battlefield needs and long-term defence requirements … the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine in their fight for freedom against Russia’s aggression,” he said.

Mr Zelenskiy’s office also said he met with Mr Murdoch on Monday and thanked him for a “very important signal of support at the time when the world’s attention is blurred by other events”, amid fighting in the Gaza Strip that has taken Western media and political focus away from the Ukraine-Russia war.

“For some reason, people treat it like a movie and expect that there will be no long pauses in the events, that the picture before their eyes will always change, that there will be some surprises every day,” Mr Zelenskiy said, amid some foreign criticism of a slow-moving counter-offensive launched by Ukraine’s forces in June.

“But for us, for our warriors, this is not a movie. These are our lives. This is daily hard work. And it will not be over as quickly as we would like, but we have no right to give up and we will not,” he added.

Mr Zelenskiy also met Fox News journalist Benjamin Hall, who was badly injured outside Kyiv in March 2022 when a shell exploded close to him and killed two colleagues, Irish cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and Ukrainian fixer Oleksandra Kuvshynova.

Ukrainian forces have retaken a handful of villages in the eastern Donetsk and southeastern Zaporizhzhia regions during the counteroffensive, having struggled to break through deep Russian minefields and fortifications in areas occupied since spring 2022.

Kyiv says its troops have now established bridgeheads on the mostly occupied eastern bank of the Dnipro river in the southeastern Kherson region, pushing back Russian forces several kilometres from the shoreline in some places.

Russia criticised Finland on Monday for closing four crossings on their shared border to halt a surge in migrants from the Middle East trying to enter the European Union state. Helsinki says Moscow is helping migrants reach the border to raise tension in the area, seven months after Finland angered the Kremlin by joining Nato.

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