Savelii, 10, reacts at his father's grave, who died defending Irpin city as a member of territorial defense, in Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday. Photo by Mikhail Palinchak/EPA-EFE
May 1 (UPI) -- Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander of the Ukrainian military, said Sunday that the country plans to move to using modern weapons that meet NATO standards as experts said the country continues to hold off Russia's assault on its eastern region.
Zaluzhny's comments were made in a telephone call with Gen. Mark Milley, the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The New York Times reported.
The country has been relying on using Soviet-era weapons shipped from its allies and has received some weapons that meet NATO standards that have not yet made it into its defense effort.
Milley on Saturday also spoke with Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak, the chief of general staff in Poland, to discuss Russia's "ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the responses of the United States and Poland," according to a readout.
The readout, provided by Joint Staff spokesman Col. Dave Butler, noted that the U.S. and Poland "continue to share a strong defense relationship and cooperate on a wide range of programs."
The Institute for the Study of War, a thinktank based in Washington, D.C., said in an analysis update Saturday that troop reinforcements Russia recently sent to eastern Ukraine are "unlikely to enable stalled Russian forces to achieve substantial advances."
The thinktank said that the reinforcements are "unlikely to enable Russian forces to break the current deadlock" because Russian attacks remain confined to two major highways "and cannot leverage greater numbers."
Ukrainian forces have also made several successful counterattacks out of Kharkiv and recaptured a ring of suburbs that may "force Russian forces to redeploy units intended for the Izium axis to hold these positions," according to the thinktank.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Sunday visited Yagidne and Lukashivka, two villages in the Chernihiv region that officials said had been liberated.
The Institute for the Study of War predicted that Ukrainian forces may even be able to conduct wider counterattacks "in the coming days."
The Ukraine Defense Ministry said in a statement Sunday that Russia has sent weapons and military equipment by rail to its border with Ukraine from three of its military districts and its Northern Fleet.
"There is a threat that the enemy will launch missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure throughout Ukraine from the territory of the Republic of Belarus, as well as provocations by the enemy on the specified section of the state border of Ukraine," the statement reads.
The ministry said that Russian forces on Sunday continued to carry out airstrikes and artillery fire on Khariv as their forces "strengthen" its offensive operations toward Izium.
Nine Russian attacks "have been repulsed" in the Donbas region, Ukraine's Defense Ministry said, and dozens of military vehicles including eight tanks were reportedly destroyed.
The military updates came as Ned Price, the spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Saturday that the United States plans to start initial visits to Lviv this week in its plans to "as soon as possible" return diplomats to the country.
"Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to follow up on their April 24 meeting in Kyiv," Price said in a readout.
"The Secretary emphasized the United States' robust support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's brutal aggression."
Price added that Blinken and Kuleba also discussed the request the administration of President Joe Biden made to the U.S. Congress on Thursday for $33 billion in security, economic, and humanitarian aid "to empower Ukraine to defeat the Kremlin's unconscionable war."