A photo released by the US Department of Defense on April 24, 2022 shows US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (right), US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (centre) during a meeting in Kyiv (US Department of Defense/-)
The Pentagon chief said Monday after returning from a visit to Kyiv, while Ukrainian officials rejected an offer from Moscow to evacuate civilians holed up in the past by Ukrainian fighters in the strategic port of Mariupol.
“The first thing you win is the belief that you can win,” Lloyd Austin said. “And they (the Ukrainians) are convinced they can win.” “They can win if they have the right equipment, the right support,” he added the day after his visit, accompanied by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, the first US cabinet ministers since the conflict began.
“We want to see Russia so weak that it can’t do the same things as invading Ukraine,” Austin said after meeting Blinkin on Sunday with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“She’s already lost a lot of military capabilities and a lot of soldiers to be honest and we don’t want her to be able to quickly replenish that ability.”
The United States – which announced new direct and indirect military aid to Ukraine in the amount of $700 million – recently accelerated the delivery of military equipment, which President Volodymyr Zelensky continues to demand from the West.
They are now supplied with heavy weapons, in order to withstand the Russian offensive, which is concentrated on the lands of eastern and southern Ukraine, after the failure of Moscow’s forces in the Kyiv region, from which they withdrew at the end of March.
Arms shipments to Ukraine are expected to be the focus of Tuesday’s meeting in Germany, which will bring together the Pentagon chief and defense ministers from 40 allied nations. “We will do everything we can, as quickly as possible, so that (the Ukrainians) get what they need,” Austin said.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (L) and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a press conference, April 25, 2022 in Poland, after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv (POOL/Alex Brandon)
On Monday, President Zelensky thanked Washington, the American people, and President Joe Biden “in person” for their support. He stressed that the “unprecedented” US military assistance, amounting to $3.4 billion, was the “most important contribution to strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities.”
On Monday, Joe Biden also confirmed the upcoming appointment of the new US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, the current ambassador to Slovakia. The United States has only been represented in Ukraine by business managers since 2019.
– “No agreement” to evacuate Azovstal
The visit of American leaders to Kyiv coincided with the Orthodox Easter, which is synonymous with the hope of many believers, even if the fighting did not stop.
Map outlining the advance of Russian military forces in Mariupol on April 23 at 7 p.m. GMT as the United Nations calls for an immediate truce to evacuate civilians (AFP/)
In particular, the bombing continued in Mariupol, a strategic port in the Sea of Azov almost entirely controlled by the Russian army, where about 100,000 people are still stranded, according to KEV. More than 20,000 people have already died in Mariupol, according to Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko.
The bombings are aimed mainly at the Azovstal mineral complex, where the last Ukrainian fighters are holed up, and, according to them, approximately 1,000 civilians. Le régiment Azov qui défend l’aciérie a diffusé ces derniers jours des images de femmes et d’enfants disant vivre depuis des semaines dans des dortoirs de fortune du complexe et appelé à un cessez-le-feu “ies avec des faires garant” Out.
On Monday morning, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that its forces would “unilaterally stop” hostilities in Azovstal beginning at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT), “withdraw units to a safe distance and ensure the departure of” civilians “of their choice.”
But Kyiv ignored this announcement.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Verychuk said no agreement was reached on Monday to create a humanitarian corridor that would allow them to be evacuated. “The declared corridor does not provide security and therefore there is no evacuation,” she added.
In the rest of Donbass, Ukraine’s military said on Monday it had repelled a series of Russian attacks in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, where many localities, such as Robyzhny, are bombarded daily.
Destroyed buildings and homes in Irbin on April 24, 2022 in Ukraine (AFP/Genya SAVILOV)
In Lyssytchansk, one of the points of the front line, a Ukrainian pensioner, Mykola, observes every day with binoculars, from the tower of his house, the slow progress of the Russian troops.
If he says that he is ready to resist “to the end”, then he understands that part of the population of this region with a complex history will not take a gloomy view of the Russian conquest of Donbass.
This is one of Moscow’s stated goals, such as the complete control of southern Ukraine, where fighting also takes place daily, especially in the area between Kherson and Mykolaiv.
Map locating the city of Bryansk, Russia (AFP/)
On the Russian side, a large fuel depot caught fire on Monday in the city of Bryansk, which is 150 kilometers from the Ukrainian border and serves as a logistics base for Russian forces, according to Moscow.
If the Russians regularly accused Kyiv of carrying out attacks on border localities, the authorities did not immediately establish the causes of the fire.
The Russian secret service (FSB) also reported on Monday that it had arrested “members of a neo-Nazi group” who said they were planning to assassinate – on the orders of the Ukrainians – star Lt. Col. Vladimir Solovyev, the party’s chief propaganda officer. The Kremlin. kyiv has not reacted yet.
– ‘I hope it ends’ –
Battles also continued in the Kharkiv region, the second city of Ukraine, which is bombarded on a daily basis, forcing civilians in the targeted neighborhoods to sleep for weeks in underground corridors.
“The first week was scary after we got used to it,” Alex, 14, who sleeps with his family in an underground car park, told AFP.
Children at a metro shelter in Kharkiv on April 23, 2022 in Ukraine (AFP/SERGEY BOBOK)
“On weekdays, in the morning, I come home to do my homework, and then I come back here for lunch, and to play games, and cards, on the phone,” he said. “Our parents do not tell us the details of the war,” he said. “We know that the war continues.”
I hope it ends, that the two (Ukrainian and Russian) presidents will agree to make peace.”
Still image from a video released by the Mariupol City Council on April 19, 2022, of the Azovstal mineral complex that was blown up (Maripol City Council / publication)
But many now expect a long war, as talks between Moscow and Kiev have stalled and the war has thrown some 13 million people onto the roads, more than five million of whom have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations.
In this context, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was expected to arrive in Turkey on Monday, the country trying to mediate in the conflict, before heading to Moscow and then Kyiv on Tuesday.