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Defiant Putin says Russia ‘doing everything right’ in Ukraine

Putin's comments Friday came hours after Kremlin-installed officials in the southern Kherson region urged residents to leave as Kyiv said its soldiers were advancing on the oblast's main city.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was “doing everything right” in its nearly eight-month invasion of Ukraine despite a string of embarrassing defeats against Kyiv’s forces, who will receive $725 million in new US military assistance.

Putin’s comments Friday came hours after Kremlin-installed officials in the southern Kherson region urged residents to leave as Kyiv said its soldiers were advancing on the oblast’s main city.

Read more: Don’t think Putin will use nuclear weapons: US President Biden

Moscow also hinted at the extent of the damage dealt to the Crimea bridge — the sole land connection between its mainland and the annexed Ukrainian peninsula — following a blast last Saturday, saying it could take many months to complete repairs.

“What is happening today is not pleasant. But all the same, (if Russia hadn’t attacked in February) we would have been in the same situation, only the conditions would have been worse for us,” Putin told reporters after a summit in the capital of Kazakhstan.

“So we’re doing everything right,” he insisted.

He did, however, acknowledge that Russia’s ex-Soviet allies were “worried.”

Putin said there was no need for further massive strikes against Ukraine at present and claimed the Kremlin did not intend to destroy its pro-Western neighbour.

“There is no need now for massive strikes. There are other tasks. For now,” he said.

Read more: Putin’s Annexation: Echoes of Manchukuo?

He spoke days after Russia unleashed a wave of missile strikes on cities across Ukraine that left at least 20 civilians dead.

Putin said the strikes were in retaliation for the explosion on the Crimea bridge, which he has described as a “terrorist act”.

The bridge is a logistically crucial transport link for moving military equipment to Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine.

New US military aid

Washington on Friday announced an additional $725 million in military assistance to Kyiv, including more ammunition for the Himars rocket systems that have been used by Ukraine to wreak havoc on Russian targets.

The aid comes “in the wake of Russia’s brutal missile attacks on civilians across Ukraine” and “mounting evidence of atrocities by Russia’s forces,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

It brings the total US military assistance to Ukraine to $17.6 billion since the Russian invasion on February 24.

Read more: Putin’s nuclear warning biggest risk since Cuban missile crisis: Biden

“We will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence with extraordinary courage and boundless determination,” Blinken said.

Separately, Elon Musk said his SpaceX would not be able to pay indefinitely for the Starlink satellite internet vital to Ukraine’s communications in the fight against Russian invaders.

The US military confirmed it was communicating with the billionaire’s company about funding for the key network.