Ukrainian soldiers with a Stinger anti-aircraft missile near a frontline position in Donetsk last year.Credit...Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Wednesday announced $300 million in military aid for Ukraine, the latest package of weapons and other military equipment that the United States has been sending to Kyiv since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.

The package includes additional ammunition for drones and long-range artillery. It also includes additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems as well as munitions for other air defense systems, including Stingers, Avengers and Aim-7 systems, the Pentagon said in a statement, as Kyiv gears up for its long-anticipated offensive to try to push Russian forces back and defend against aerial attacks from Moscow.

The aid also includes other artillery support, anti-armor weaponry and tens of millions of rounds of small-arms ammunition, defense officials said.

Moscow came under a drone attack on Tuesday, a move which the Kremlin has blamed on Kyiv. A senior Ukrainian official said Kyiv was not “directly involved” in the assault, though it was “happy” to watch.

So far American officials say that no U.S.-made drones or munition have been used in attacks on Moscow. But the fact that the United States plans to send additional ammunition for Ukrainian drones shows how serious the Biden administration is about arming Ukraine in advance of the counteroffensive, a Pentagon official said on Wednesday. The air defense munitions in the shipment also suggest that the United States is seeking to give Ukraine an advantage amid continuing strikes from Moscow.

The Pentagon did not specify which unmanned systems were being bolstered with the drone munitions in the aid package. The United States has given Ukraine both surveillance and attack drones in the past year, but officials have been reluctant to publicly describe exactly which systems have been sent.

The package brings the amount of security assistance to Ukraine from the United States since Russia invaded in February last year to $37.6 billion, the Pentagon said.

“This authorization is the Biden administration’s 39th drawdown of equipment from D.O.D. inventories for Ukraine since August 2021,” the Pentagon statement said, referring to the Defense Department’s supplies. “It includes key capabilities to support Ukraine’s air defenders as they bravely protect Ukraine’s soldiers, civilians, and critical infrastructure amid Russia’s continuing airstrikes killing civilians across Ukraine.”

John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said Wednesday that the administration would keep up the weapons shipments through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in the fall.

As for when the administration would need to go to Congress for more money for Ukraine, Mr. Kirby said that “we’ve got some time to figure that out.”

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.


An apartment building that was damaged by a drone attack in Moscow on Tuesday.Credit...Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

A day after blaming Ukraine for a mass drone strike on Moscow, some Russian officials have seized on comments by American and British officials, saying they were evidence of their governments’ tacit support for Ukrainian military operations inside Russia.

The drone assault, a strike at the heart of Russia, is the latest in a series of attacks into Russian territory that come as Ukraine is preparing for a counteroffensive meant to take back territory seized by Moscow. Ukraine denied the drone attack on Moscow, and has largely maintained strategic ambiguity about strikes on Russian territory.

Although Western governments initially focused their military support on bolstering Ukrainian defenses against Russian aggression, the desire to hasten the Kremlin’s defeat and end the war has led to growing deliveries of offensive weapons to Kyiv, though it was unclear who manufactured the drones used in Tuesday’s attack. In public, Western governments have also largely declined to criticize cross-border raids and strikes on Russian territory.

After the drone strike, Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said Ukraine had “the right to project force beyond its borders.” A spokesman for the German government, Steffen Hebestreit, said international law allowed Ukraine to strike Russian territory in self-defense, but added that Berlin opposed the use of German weapons for such attacks, the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

The American response was more circumspect, but it also stopped short of criticizing the first military strike to have hit civilian areas in the Russian capital since the start of the invasion.

John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, told reporters on Wednesday that the United States had been clear that “we don’t support attacks inside Russia, and we don’t enable attacks inside Russia. We certainly don’t want to see attacks inside Russia that are being propagated, that are being conducted, using US-supplied equipment.”

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, on Wednesday told reporters that Russia “would have preferred to hear at least some words of condemnation” of the drone attack from Western capitals. “We will calmly and deliberately think how to deal with this.”

Dmitri A. Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s national security council and a former president, went further, calling Britain “our eternal enemy.” Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he has become known for voicing the most extreme views on potential Russian actions.

In a post on Twitter, Mr. Medvedev said the United Kingdom “de facto is leading an undeclared war against Russia” by providing Ukraine with military aid and specialists. He said this meant that any British official “can be considered as a legitimate military target.”

The Russian ambassador in Washington used the same argument to attack a statement from the White House. Washington’s refusal to condemn the attack outright “is an encouragement for Ukrainian terrorists,” said Anatoly Antonov, the ambassador, according to the embassy’s Telegram messaging channel.

Russia has long accused the West of waging a proxy war against it. Those claims grew louder this month when a group of anti-Kremlin Russian paramilitaries appeared to use U.S. armored vehicles to stage a multiday raid in Russia’s Belgorod border region.

A New York Times analysis found that at least three of what appeared to be American-made MRAPs were part of the attack. A leader of one of the groups claimed they were not provided by the Ukrainian military.

Strikes into Russia continued on Tuesday, as Russian officials said that Ukrainian drones had attacked two oil refineries in the Russian region of Krasnodar and that four people had been injured by shelling in the Belgorod region.

A correction was made on 

May 31, 2023

An earlier version of this article misstated James Cleverly’s position. He is Britain’s foreign secretary, not its defense secretary.

How we handle corrections


President Emmanuel Macron of France speaking at the Globsec forum in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Wednesday.Credit...Michal Cizek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Wednesday that Western allies must give Ukraine “tangible and credible” security guarantees in its battle against Russia, even as he reiterated that Europe needed to act more independently for its own defense.

“If we want a credible, durable peace, if we want to hold our own against Russia, if we want to be credible with the Ukrainians, we must give Ukraine the means to prevent any new aggression and to include Ukraine in any new security architecture,” he said in speech at a security conference in Slovakia.

Mr. Macron was criticized early in the war for his insistence on not antagonizing Russia and the speech was a sign of how far his stance has shifted. He has hardened his approach toward President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and has been more unequivocal in his support for Ukraine in the war. He also has portrayed the war as proof that Europe needs to invest more in its own defense.

The French leader, who is expected in Moldova on Thursday to meet with other European leaders after his visit to Slovakia, also expressed regret that France and other Western European countries had failed to heed warnings from ex-Soviet countries on the European Union’s eastern edge about Russian belligerence.

Mr. Macron acknowledged that the region had been shaped by decades of Soviet rule and vowed that France would help prevent a similar era of Russian domination.

“I would like France to be perceived, to be seen as a friendly, credible and long-term ally and partner by all countries of this region,” Mr. Macron said. “Less lecturing other people, and more working with them on common interests.”

Ukraine has pressed for membership of NATO to defend against Russia, but Mr. Macron cautioned that consensus in Europe on such a step was still elusive and suggested Ukraine’s allies could provide some other guarantees in the meantime. NATO will discuss possible Ukrainian membership at its summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.

“I think we have to build something between the security provided to Israel and the full-fledged membership,” he said, referring to Israel as a model because Washington’s commitment to its ongoing security is clear even without a specific mutual-defense treaty.

The West has provided Ukraine with such vast quantities of military equipment and assistance that leaving it out of any sort of security framework would make little sense, Mr. Macron argued.

He said it was clear that “Ukraine will not be conquered,” he warned that the war was “far from finished.”

“If we decrease our support, if we accept a cease-fire or a frozen conflict, time will be on the Russian side,” he said. “We should not accept such a scenario,” he said, describing Russia’s invasion as the latest in a string of attempts to bring neighboring countries under its heel and to undermine European unity.

Mr. Macron, whose repeated calls for a new “security architecture” in Europe have been seen by some as a challenge to NATO, said that he did not want to replace the alliance but that it needed a “European pillar.”

Europe must bolster its own sovereignty and strategic autonomy, he said, by building and buying European weapons, by reducing its reliance on foreign energy, and by handling the continent’s conflicts without relying on treaties negotiated by other powers.

“If we delegate to others, Russia, or the United States, we will never be credible actors,” he said.


The Russian Embassy in Berlin will remain open, while four of its five consulates in Germany will be forced to close.Credit...Filip Singer/EPA, via Shutterstock

Berlin is ordering four of the five Russian consulates in Germany to close after Moscow limited the number of German diplomatic staff allowed in Russia, the latest in an escalating tit-for-tat diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had been told to start shutting down its consulates in Germany immediately and must finish by the end of the year, Christofer Burger, a spokesman for Germany’s Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

One Russian consulate and the Russian Embassy in Berlin will be allowed to remain open. Russia currently operates consulates in Bonn, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig and Munich. It is not clear which of the five will remain open.

The move comes after a series of reciprocal expulsions that have whittled diplomatic staff in both countries to the bone — a far cry from the close diplomatic relations they shared before Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

In April, Germany expelled a number of Russian diplomats it suspected of being spies, a move that came after a Russian mole was found in Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry retaliated by expelling 20 German diplomats.

Berlin said Wednesday that it was forced to close German consulates in Kaliningrad, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg after Russia announced last weekend that it would allow only 350 German citizens to work at diplomatic posts in Russia. Besides diplomats and embassy staff, Russia also considers Germans working at German cultural institutions — like the Goethe Institute — to be part of that number.

“With this, the Russian government has taken a step of escalation, and this unjustified decision forces the federal government to make a very significant cut in all areas of its presence in Russia,” Mr. Burger said.

He added that with the latest move, the German government considered the affair closed because “personnel and structural parity” in the two countries’ diplomatic presence had been reached.

The German Embassy in Moscow and a consulate in St. Petersburg will remain staffed.


Russian forces have controlled the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant for more than a year.Credit...Andrey Borodulin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog proposed a set of principles on Tuesday to ensure safety at giant Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine. But neither Russia nor Ukraine are fully committed to the proposed rules, and with both sides deeply divided and distrustful after 15 months of conflict, making them work is likely to be more than an uphill struggle.

The principles outlined by Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the I.A.E.A., at the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday hold that the plant should not be used as a base for heavy weaponry or military personnel that could be used in an attack, that its security systems should be protected and that its off-site power supplies should not be put at risk. The plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility, is no longer producing energy, but external power is still essential to run critical cooling and other safety systems.

The principles have received broad international support, but without full support from the warring sides. Mr. Grossi himself warned against “naïve optimism.” In the end, the U.N. has no way to force Ukraine and Russia to abide by the proposed rules.

“The success of achieving these principles is doubtful,” said Maria Kurando, a visiting doctoral fellow at the University of Hamburg’s Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, said. She said the fundamental issue is that the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog “is unable to compel a country to cease military activity.”

Over the last year, Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the rules of nuclear safety by occupying the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the first place and of shelling its infrastructure. Russia has accused Ukraine of acting irresponsibly and of staging attacks on the plant that jeopardize its security.

The two sides also are at loggerheads over the plant’s legal status. Moscow views it as part of its sovereign territory, a position that Ukraine and the West categorically reject.

Russian forces seized the plant soon after the start of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. It has since been repeatedly shelled and has been forced at least half a dozen times to rely on diesel generators to maintain critical safety functions after its external power supply was cut.


Credit...Seth Wenig/Associated Press

In addition, Russia has built up military forces at the plant, making use of its relative shelter and using it as a base before the troops are transported to the front line, according to Ukraine’s state energy company, Energoatom.

Both sides have built up their forces along the front line in Zaporizhzhia region in recent months ahead of a looming Ukrainian counteroffensive. The prospect of further fighting in the vicinity of the plant is a further risk factor, according to nuclear experts.

In rare comments about the plant, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday accused Ukraine of threatening to use a dirty bomb at the facility and attempting to destabilize it. He presented no evidence for the claims. Moscow illegally annexed the Zaporizhzhia region last fall.

Moscow has also attempted to cement its institutional control over the plant, bringing it under its own state nuclear company, Rosatom, and putting pressure on workers to sign new contracts. In recent days, Russia has beaten and tortured workers to force them to sign, Energoatom said in a statement on Telegram on Tuesday. The claim could not be independently verified.

Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, citing new satellite imagery, said on Tuesday that Russia was integrating the plant further into its military planning by stationing fighting positions on the roofs of several of the reactors.

A Russian withdrawal from the plant was the essential prerequisite for re-establishing safety there, she said, echoing Ukraine’s longstanding position. Moscow’s occupation of the plant gives it leverage over Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and it has resisted months of efforts by Mr. Grossi to establish a safety and security zone.


A Ukrainian soldier walked through trenches last year in what was then the front lines of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine before Russia’s full-scale invasion.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Russia should agree to a demilitarized zone around 75 miles deep along its border with Ukraine as a condition of a peace settlement, according to a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

The condition, if adopted as government policy, could complicate future negotiations about ending the war because it would most likely be viewed by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as an unacceptable violation of its sovereignty.

“The key topic of the postwar settlement should be the establishment of safeguards to prevent a recurrence of aggression in the future,” the presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Twitter as he floated the idea on Monday.

Mr. Podolyak said the buffer zone would probably need to be policed by international inspectors when it is first set up and would cover four Russian regions — Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk and Rostov.

It would offer protection to seven Ukrainian regions that Russia has shelled heavily since the start of Moscow’s full-scale invasion 15 months ago. Russian troops have occupied parts of two of those regions, Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, since 2014. Last fall, Moscow declared that those provinces had been annexed, a decision that has been widely rejected as illegal.

Russian forces have occupied parts of two other regions, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia, while the Sumy and Chernihiv regions in the north of the country remain in Ukrainian hands but are often shelled.

There have been few attempts to hold peace talks since February 2022, and Mr. Zelensky has said that the country would not negotiate directly with Russia because Kyiv has accused Moscow of widespread war crimes.

In November, Kyiv outlined a 10-point peace plan as a basis for a settlement to the war. The terms include a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine’s territory, an end to hostilities and justice for war crimes committed during the conflict.

Moscow has rejected the 10-point plan, but says it is willing to negotiate. Other countries, including China and Brazil, have offered their own principles that could lead to a settlement.

In the meantime, Ukraine has spent months preparing for a counteroffensive to take back territory seized by Russia in the south and east of the country. Experts on the war say it is highly unlikely that peace talks could begin before the counteroffensive has run its course.


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, left, with Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden, in Lulea, Sweden, on Tuesday.Credit...Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency, via Associated Press

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with European officials in Sweden on Wednesday to discuss trade and technology issues, including “de-risking” Western supply chains from dependence on China and cracking down on exports that could aid Russia and Iran.

In Lulea, a Swedish coastal city, Mr. Blinken joined meetings held by the E.U.-U.S. Trade and Technology Council, a diplomatic forum that coordinates policy between the United States and Europe. Gina Raimondo, the commerce secretary, and Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, will join him.

In remarks to reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Blinken said that the United States and the European Union would jointly announce new export controls to limit technology used in Iranian-made drones that Russia is directing against civilian targets in Ukraine, “to counter Russian misinformation and disinformation” and “to protect human rights defenders online.”

On China, Mr. Blinken said the discussions in Sweden would center on challenging unfair trade practices, making Western supply chains less reliant on Chinese manufacturing and products, and screening foreign investments in Beijing that could support military projects like its nuclear weapons program.

The United States and the European Union are “looking at outward investment to make sure that it’s not going to support developments in China that could pose a threat to our security,” Mr. Blinken told reporters on Tuesday. “In my 30 years or so of doing this, I have not seen a time, actually, when there is greater convergence between the United States and Europe, as well as with key partners in Asia, on the approach to China,” he said.

Later on Wednesday, Mr. Blinken is expected to fly to Oslo, where he will meet with the Norway’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Store.

On Thursday, Mr. Blinken is scheduled to attend an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers, who will discuss preparations for a NATO summit in July in Vilnius, Lithuania, the war in Ukraine and the prospects for Swedish membership in the alliance despite longstanding objections by Turkey.

Mr. Blinken spoke on Tuesday night with Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and “reiterated his strong belief that Sweden is ready to join the alliance now,” Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement.

Mr. Blinken also offered congratulations to his counterpart on the re-election of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr. Miller said. U.S. officials hope that Mr. Erdogan’s victory will make it easier for him to drop his objections to Swedish membership in NATO, which many analysts called a product of election season nationalist posturing.


Medical workers and patients, including injured soldiers, took shelter in the basement of a hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine, during attacks on Monday.Credit...Nicole Tung for The New York Times

GENEVA — Russia’s relentless bombardment of Ukrainian cities over the past 15 months included more than 1,000 strikes on health care facilities and services, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

The W.H.O. said it had verified 1,004 Russian attacks on health facilities since the full-scale invasion began in February of last year, more than it has recorded in any other humanitarian emergency. Those attacks killed 101 people, including medical workers and patients, and injured many more, the agency said.

“Attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law,” Jarno Habicht, the organization’s representative in Ukraine, said in a statement. “They deprive people of the care they need and have wide-ranging, long-term consequences.”

Attacks on other civilian infrastructure, like power plants, have also hindered Ukraine’s health service from delivering care, Dr. Habicht said.

Despite the continued attacks, most health facilities have remained functional, even in hard-hit areas such as Kharkiv, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, he said. But the rising costs caused by the war have left many people struggling to afford treatment.

The W.H.O., a United Nations agency, is typically neutral on political issues. But last week at the World Health Assembly, its annual policymaking forum, its member countries voted in favor of a resolution condemning Russian attacks on health care facilities.

The 53 countries that make up the W.H.O.’s European region also backed the relocation of the regional office for noncommunicable diseases to the Danish capital, Copenhagen, from Moscow. Non-Russian staff members in the office had relocated last year after the invasion began, but Robb Butler, the executive director of W.H.O. Europe, said that it had formally notified Russia that the Moscow office would close no later than Jan. 1, 2024.


Fortem Technologies’s drone-hunting unmanned aircraft has been used in Ukraine to intercept Iranian-made attack drones.Credit...Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Small military contractors are getting real-world tests of their systems because of the war in Ukraine, earning praise from top government officials there and validating investors who have been pouring money into the field. But they are facing a stiff challenge on another field of battle: the Pentagon’s slow-moving, risk-averse military procurement bureaucracy.

When it comes to drones, satellites, artificial intelligence and other fields, start-up companies frequently offer the Pentagon cheaper, faster and more flexible options than the weapons systems produced by the handful of giant contractors the Pentagon normally relies on.

But while the military has provided small grants and short-term contracts to many start-ups, those agreements often expire too quickly and are not large enough for young companies to meet their payrolls — or grow as rapidly as their venture capital investors expect. Several have been forced to lay people off, delaying progress on new technologies and war-fighting tools.

As the United States seeks to maintain its national security advantage over China, Russia and other rivals, Pentagon leaders are only now beginning to figure out how to bring a Silicon Valley ethos to the lumbering military-industrial complex.

“This kind of change doesn’t always move as smoothly or as quickly as I’d like,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III conceded during a speech in December before a crowd in Simi Valley, Calif., that included executives from many start-up technology companies.

Industry executives refer to their situation as the “Valley of Death,” where the slow pace of government contracting can lead them to bleed out their funding while they await decisions. One San Francisco-based start-up, Primer Technologies, makes an artificial intelligence tool that analyzed thousands of hours of unencrypted Russian radio communications to help find targets, but has struggled to stay afloat as it has waited for major defense contracts.

“Small companies can’t just sit there twiddling their thumbs for two or three years until our contract gets in place,” Heidi Shyu, the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, said late last year at the Reagan National Defense Forum.

Eric Lipton Reporting from Washington


The Russian Defense Ministry building in Moscow in December.Credit...Maxim Shipenkov/EPA, via Shutterstock

Tuesday’s drone strike on Moscow further demonstrated the spread of the war in Ukraine to the Russian capital, putting a spotlight on the city’s air defenses and the Kremlin’s attempts to adapt to a new kind of conflict.

Since the 1980s, Moscow has been ringed by a complex air defense system known as Amur, which was designed to protect the capital from intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombers, a threat far different from the reality of Russia’s modern war against Ukraine.

Ukraine has denied responsibility for Tuesday’s drone attack and another this month that targeted the Kremlin, but such assaults have been increasing in frequency in Russian territory. This has forced Russia to adopt its defense systems to counter a kind of ordnance that is less lethal but much more numerous.

In January, Russia began stationing new military hardware around Moscow without official explanation, including on top of prominent buildings such as the Defense Ministry. Military experts identified the weapons as the S-400, Russia’s most sophisticated surface-to-air missile system, and the Pantsir S-1, which in its most common form is a truck carrying a relatively simple antiaircraft missile launcher.

Pantsir missiles downed five of the eight drones that attacked Moscow on Tuesday morning, according to the Defense Ministry. A video posted on social media on Tuesday and verified by The New York Times showed a Pantsir system launching a missile on the outskirts of Moscow.

The other three drones, according to the Defense Ministry, were disabled by what it called “radio-electronic warfare.” The ministry did not provide details, but starting in 2016 it has been installing an electronic jamming system known as Pole-21 on satellite towers. These systems block satellite navigation signals, causing drones and other electronically guided weapons to lose control.

As a result, Russian officials — including President Vladimir V. Putin — have tried to frame the attack on the capital as a triumph for Russian defenses.

“It’s clear what needs to be done to increase the density of the capital’s air defense systems,” Mr. Putin said in response to the attack. “And we will do just that.”

One potential issue: The effectiveness of the Pantsir and Pole systems declines greatly in densely populated areas saturated with satellite data, said Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Moscow-based security research group CAST. To effectively counter drone attacks, he said, the Russian military must try to disable them before they reach city limits — a difficult task given the size of the country.

Defending airspace in urban areas is also more difficult than near the front lines, where most aircraft will be military. Around cities, soldiers have to track civilian aircraft, like airplanes and helicopters, while at the same time looking for radar reflections of much smaller aircraft, like unmanned drones.

“Previously, air defense systems near cities would tune out anything smaller than a helicopter,” said Ian Williams of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “Small drones may have a radar return the size of a goose, so if you tune your radars to look for enemy drones you’ll also see a lot of birds.”

The Pantsir air-defense vehicles seen around Moscow came into service with the Russian Army in 2003, according to C.S.I.S., and have since been upgraded. Armed with short-range infrared-seeking missiles and a 30-millimeter gun directed by radar, the Pantsir was built to accompany mechanized forces like a tank column, Mr. Williams said, providing a “bubble” of protection as the convoy moves along.

They were designed and built before small drones became a major threat on the battlefield, Mr. Williams said, and although they do have some ability to shoot drones down, that is not what they were optimized to do. Attackers can also use terrain to mask the approach of low-flying aircraft, like drones, he added.

Those responsible for Tuesday’s attack, he said, appeared to be “exploiting the limitations of the Pantsir and other air-defense systems around Moscow.”

Oleg Matsnev and Riley Mellen contributed reporting.


The missile cruiser Peter the Great, part of the Russian Navy’s northern fleet, at its Arctic base in Severomorsk in 2021. Russia, China and the West are all seeking to expand their military presence in the Arctic.Credit...Emile Ducke for The New York Times

BERLIN — As polar ice melts, Russia, already a major Arctic power, wants to make the region its own. China has ambitions for a “Polar Silk Road.” And NATO is embracing Finland — and Sweden too, Washington hopes — giving the alliance new reach in the Far North.

Climate change is accelerating and amplifying competition in the Arctic as never before, opening the region to greater commercial and strategic jostling just at a moment when Russia, China and the West are all seeking to expand their military presence there.

The rising importance of the region is underscored by the travels of Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, who will attend an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Norway on Thursday.

This week, Mr. Blinken is making a point of visiting Sweden and Finland as well, meeting the leaders of all three countries as they press Turkey to ratify Sweden’s quick entry into NATO. He is scheduled to deliver a major speech on Russia, Ukraine and NATO on Friday in Helsinki, the capital of NATO’s newest member.

For a long time, countries were reluctant to discuss the Arctic as a possible military zone. But that is quickly changing.

Russian aggression plus climate change make “a perfect storm,” said Matti Pesu, an analyst at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. There is a new Cold War atmosphere, mixed with melting ice, which affects military planning and opens up new economic possibilities and access to natural resources.

“So all these are connected and are magnifying each other,” Mr. Pesu said. “It makes the region intriguing.”

While NATO has been cheered by Russia’s difficulties in Ukraine, the alliance in fact has significant vulnerabilities in the north.

With climate change, shipping routes are becoming less icebound and easier to navigate, making the Arctic more accessible and attractive for competitive commercial exploitation, as well as military adventurism.

Russia has said it wants to make the Arctic its own — a fifth military district, on a par with its other four — said Robert Dalsjo, research director at the Swedish Defense Research Agency.

China has also been busy trying to establish itself in the region and use new unfrozen routes, one reason NATO considers China a significant security challenge.

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