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Ukraine-Russia war hits 2-year mark with Kyiv desperate for more U.S. support and fearing abandonment

Ukraine outgunned, outnumbered on war's 2-year mark
On 2-year mark of war, Ukraine finds itself outgunned and outnumbered 02:38

Lviv, Ukraine — The mood in Ukraine is about as gloomy as it has been since Russia launched its full-scale invasion two years ago, on Feb. 24, 2022. Ukrainian troops are desperate for ammunition, and many feel they've been forgotten about by their global allies.

Saturday's two-year landmark will come right on the heels of one of the toughest losses Ukraine has suffered during the war. The fall of the city of Avdiivka, while symbolic more than strategic, came after months of relentless bombardment and enormous losses on both sides.

Ukrainian troops were overwhelmed, outgunned, and, one commander said, outnumbered seven to one.

Military mobility on Ukraine's Avdiivka frontline
A Ukrainian serviceman arrives severely wounded to an evacuation point after being removed from Avdiivka following Russian force's seizure of the long-fought over city, Feb. 20, 2024. Narciso Contreras/Anadolu/Getty

Fleeing resident Maryna Batrak said the Russians simply destroyed everything.

"They will destroy us too," she said. "Have you seen how the cities were wiped off the face of the earth?"

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a Thursday photo-op that saw him join the pilot in the cockpit of a nuclear-capable bomber, mocked what he called Ukraine's chaotic retreat.

Russian President Putin flies supersonic strategic bomber
Russian President Vladimir Putin, at right, takes a flight on board a modernized Tu-160M strategic bomber, which took off from the runway of the Kazan Aviation Plant in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, Feb. 22, 2024. Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu/Getty

Ukraine blamed the defeat on perilously low ammunition. The shortages come amid serious concern in Kyiv and other European capitals over the future of U.S. support for Ukraine's war machine.

About $60 billion in additional funding remains held up by political gridlock in the U.S. Congress. Even with European aid continuing to flow, the U.S. aid is considered crucial to Ukraine, as it includes ammunition, artillery rounds and maintenance for American-made equipment that has already been provided.

Adding a new dimension to the urgent calls for the U.S. assistance package to be approved by lawmakers, the top spokesperson for U.S. Army's command in Europe and Africa warned this week in an interview with CBS News that it expects "to run out of money before summertime" for operations on both continents if the money isn't released.

Inside look at NATO's rigorous training exercises near Russian border 02:49

But it may be an even more urgent matter for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who pleaded for more U.S. support at a recent security summit in Munich, and appeared to hedge his bets given the prospect of a dramatic shift in American political leadership later this year.

"If Trump, Mr. Trump, if he will come, I'm ready even to go with him to the front line," Zelenskyy said.

Trump is widely seen as being far less supportive of Ukraine than President Biden.

Biden announces new sanctions against Russia

In a statement issued Friday, Mr. Biden lauded "the brave people of Ukraine," whom he said were "unbowed in their determination to defend their freedom and future."

He condemned "Vladimir Putin's vicious onslaught against Ukraine" and announced that the U.S. was targeting 500 entities with new sanctions on Friday over the ongoing invasion and the death of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny in prison last week.

Mr. Biden renewed his call for U.S. lawmakers to pass the aid package, echoing warnings from America's European NATO partners – and one that Zelenskyy issued himself in an interview with CBS News months before Russia launched its blitz – that "if Putin does not pay the price for his death and destruction, he will keep going. And the costs to the United States—along with our NATO Allies and partners in Europe and around the world — will rise."

White House hits Russia with hundreds of new sanctions over Ukraine war, Navalny death 05:11

"The people of Ukraine continue to fight with tremendous courage," Mr. Biden said in his Friday statement. "But they are running out of ammunition. Ukraine needs more supplies from the United States to hold the line against Russia's relentless attacks, which are enabled by arms and ammunition from Iran and North Korea. That's why the House of Representatives must pass the bipartisan national security supplemental bill, before it's too late." 

From the outset of the war, the world has witnessed the merciless Russian bombardment of residential neighborhoods. Last year, thanks to the huge support from the U.S. and its partners, Ukraine launched a major counteroffensive, retaking some ground but failing to dislodge Russian forces who have deeply entrenched across the east.

Despite the U.S. alone already having contributed more than $75 billion to Ukraine's defensive efforts, it has become a grinding war of attrition.   

The Ukrainian government stopped sharing the number of its military dead a long time ago. But the ever-growing number of fresh graves, on both sides of the front lines, paints a painfully clear picture.

CBS News' Tucker Reals contributed to this report.

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