Ukraine’s armed forces suffered considerable territorial losses over the weekend despite receiving a large military aid package from the U.S. in April, The New York Times reported.

From Friday to Sunday, Russian forces captured more square miles per day than they have at nearly any point of the Russia-Ukraine war other than its earliest days, taking nine villages in Ukraine’s north while defending fighters fell back, according to the Times.


The Russian advances came just weeks after Congress approved a $61 billion infusion of military aid for the Ukrainian forces April 21, proponents of which argued that the aid was essential for Ukraine to withstand the invasion.

“The first line of fortifications and mines just didn’t exist,” Denys Yaroslavsky, a Ukrainian reconnaissance commander, wrote in a post on Facebook. “The enemy freely entered the gray area, across the border line, which in principle should not have been gray!”

The $61 billion aid package passed in April contained funding for weapons, arms purchases, training, and more, according to the Center for Strategic International Studies. That round of funding supplemented four earlier aid packages, bringing the top-line number of U.S. aid sent to Ukraine since the war’s outbreak to $175 billion, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Although it is unclear if Russia’s advances are a minor, isolated development or the start of a sustained period of greater success, the exhaustion of many Ukrainian soldiers on the front, limited amounts of ammunition, and dwindling manpower could combine to cause serious problems for the Ukrainian army, according to the Times.

Thousands of civilians have fled their homes to take shelter in Kharkiv, the largest city in the region where the Russians had success over the weekend.

“We are focused on supporting Ukraine’s defense in the Kharkiv region, where Ukrainian forces are fighting hard,” a Defense Department spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “On Friday, we warned that we had been anticipating that Russia would launch an offensive against Kharkiv and were anticipating that Russia would increase its attacks in an attempt to establish a shallow buffer zone along the Ukrainian border—and we have been coordinating closely with Ukraine to help them prepare.”

“We are also working on another aid package to get urgently needed aid to Ukraine—and the Department of Defense has been moving heaven and earth to deliver all of these supplies to Ukraine as rapidly as possible,” the Pentagon spokesperson said. “As we have said previously, Congress’ months-long delay in passing the supplemental put the Russians at an advantage, and it will take Ukraine time to regain the initiative.”

Russian forces are beginning to reach or attack towns and villages outside of Kharkiv, according to the Times. It is possible that the Russians are pressing on in the region to divert Ukrainian troops, attention, and resources away from other areas in hopes of creating conditions for a wider breakthrough.

“The Russians have understood, just as a lot of analysts have, that the major disadvantage that Ukraine is currently suffering from is manpower,” Franz-Stefan Gady, a military analyst based in Austria, told the Times. “By thinning out the front line, you are increasing the odds of a breakthrough.”

To date, the Russia-Ukraine war has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, but the front lines of the conflict have not moved much in recent months, the Times reported. Manpower is becoming a problem for Ukraine, which has a much smaller population than Russia and is starting to mobilize convicts to join the fight despite criticizing Russia for doing the same earlier in the conflict.

The State Department did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation