Russia makes key gains as Ukraine withdraws troops around its second city

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Russia’s new offensive gained momentum Wednesday around Ukraine’s second-largest city, the latest gut punch for Kyiv as it struggles to contain this new front in the war following delays in crucial military aid from the United States.

Even as Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the country to reassure it of allied support and announced a new $2 billion arms deal, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy canceled all upcoming foreign trips — a signal of how seriously the country is taking the advancing Russian military.

Ukraine’s army said it had withdrawn some of its forces from more areas around the crucial northeastern city of Kharkiv, while local officials said Russian troops had taken up positions inside the key front-line town of Vovchansk.

It’s part of a new, armored assault launched by Russia last week, which risks stretching Ukraine’s army to breaking point. And Kyiv fears Moscow may also be massing troops for new border incursions elsewhere.