Russia-Ukraine updates: Russian missile strikes hit multiple Ukrainian cities

Dozens of injuries were reported in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.

Russia has continued a nearly 19-month-long invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Recently, though, the Ukrainians have gone on a counteroffensive, fighting to reclaim occupied territory.

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US defends NATO decision on Ukraine membership

The United States is standing by the NATO communique released Tuesday and its language around Ukraine joining the alliance, despite criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the lack of a timeline to do so.

"The United States clearly joined with NATO allies in agreeing to a strong positive message reaffirming that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance," U.S. National Security Council Senior Director for Europe Amanda Sloat said during a press briefing in Lithuania's capital on Wednesday morning, on the final day of a high-stakes NATO summit. "And as the communique has made clear, as the president has spoken to directly in the past, we recognize that Ukraine has already made significant progress in terms of reforms. That was part of what led to allies making the decision to say that the Membership Action Plan was no longer required for Ukraine."

"But as both the president has said and as the communique made clear, there is still the need for Ukraine to take further democratic and security sector reforms," she added.

Sloat told reporters that the U.S. has been and would continue to work with Ukraine both bilaterally and through the NATO alliance to ensure that the reforms required to join the alliance are met.

When asked to respond to Zelenskyy's criticism that the lack of a timeline was "unprecedented and absurd," Sloat defended the agreement as a significant one.

"I would agree that the communique is unprecedented, but I see that in a positive way. We joined with allies yesterday in agreeing to a very strong, positive message. We reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of the NATO alliance," she said, arguing that removing the Membership Action Plan requirement for Ukraine was a "very significant" step on NATO's part.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle


Biden to make 'memorable speech' focusing on NATO, Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden will make a "memorable speech" before world leaders in Lithuania's capital on the final day of a high-stakes NATO summit, according to National Security Council Senior Director for Europe Amanda Sloat.

Biden's remarks on Wednesday afternoon will focus on similar themes to what he said during his speech in Poland in late February marking one year since Russia waged war on Ukraine.

"President Biden will talk about the strength of the NATO Alliance and how it remains a force for global security and stability, as it has for more than seven decades. He'll talk about how NATO is more vital to our shared future and that didn't happen by accident," Sloat told reporters during a press briefing in Vilnius on Wednesday morning.

"As the president has talked about before, Vladimir Putin thought he could break our resolve when he invaded Ukraine. But our NATO allies and our partners around the world responded by coming together to support the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom, their independence and their democracy," she added.

Beyond addressing the strength of the NATO alliance and the importance of standing by Ukraine, Biden will also look to pitch cooperation like we've seen for Ukraine to tackle other major challenges facing the world, "including the climate crisis, emerging technologies, upholding the international rules of the road and expanding opportunities so we build an economy where no one gets left behind," according to Sloat.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle


US, G-7 leaders to announce 'long-term commitments to support' Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden and other G-7 leaders are set to unveil future support for Ukraine on Wednesday after the conclusion of a high-stakes NATO summit in Lithuana's capital.

"President Biden and G-7 leaders will make a major announcement alongside President Zelenskyy this afternoon outlining our long-term commitments to support the people of Ukraine," U.S. National Security Council Senior Director for Europe Amanda Sloat said during a press briefing in Vilnius on Wednesday morning. "The United States, along with G-7 leaders, will announce our intent to help Ukraine build a military that can defend itself and deter a future attack."

"The launch of this process today will start a series of bilateral negotiations with Ukraine on the reaching of bilateral security commitments to help make this a reality," she added. "In particular, this process will ensure that the military assistance we provide Ukraine to defend itself against Russian aggression continues to be part of a long-term investment in Ukraine’s future force."

That investment will include making sure "Ukraine has a sustainable fighting force capable of defending Ukraine now and deterring Russian aggression in the future, a strong and stable economy, and the help Ukraine needs to advance the reform agenda to support the good governance necessary to advance Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic aspirations, which Ukraine recommits itself to as part of this declaration," according to Sloan.

"Taken together, we believe the declaration we will announce today seeks to ensure Ukraine's future as a free, independent, democratic, and sovereign nation," she told reporters. "This multilateral declaration will send a significant signal to Russia that time is not on its side."

-ABC News' Molly Nagle



Russian defense minister speaks out first time since rebellion

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his first public comments since last month’s failed rebellion led by Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is actively engaged with his commanders
Shoigu said that Putin listens to "very detailed reports" twice a day and "all commanders on all levels understand and feel all the weight of responsibility that was placed on them."

"They carry out their responsibilities with great pride," he said.

Shoigu claimed that Ukraine hasn't achieved any of its goals in its counteroffensive. The defense minster added that Russia may be using cluster munitions following the announcement that Ukraine will be receiving similar weapons from the U.S.

"If the United States supplies cluster munitions to Ukraine, the Russian Armed Forces will be forced to use similar weapons against the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a response," he said.

-ABC News' Natalia Shumskaia, Ellie Kaufman and Will Gretsky


Belarus president says Prigozhin arrived in the country Tuesday

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said on state media Tuesday that Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin arrived in his country earlier in the day.

Lukashenko claimed on state media that "security guarantees" Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to Prigozhin were provided.

"Yes, indeed, he is in Belarus today. As I promised, if you want to stay with us for a while and so on, we will help you," Lukashenko said.

A senior U.S. official confirmed to ABC News that Prigozhin is in exile in Belarus, surrounded by a security force of his own Wagner mercenaries.

-ABC News' Victoria Beaule, Tanya Stukalova and Martha Raddatz