Editor’s Note: This page recaps news from Ukraine for Monday, April 25. Follow here for the latest updates and news from Tuesday, April 26, as the Russian invasion continues.
The Biden administration has increased its financial commitment and may have hinted at a new goal following a near-clandestine meeting in Kyiv between two senior US cabinet officials and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The news came hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made the highest-level visit by a US delegation to Kyiv since the start of the Russian invasion.
Blinken and Austin told Zelenskyy and his advisers that the United States would provide an additional $300 million in foreign military funding and had approved a $165 million ammunition sale. Blinken said American diplomats who had left Ukraine before the war would begin returning to the country as early as this week.
“We had the opportunity to directly demonstrate our continued strong support for the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people,” Blinken said.
Asked about US goals in the conflict, Austin mentioned a desire for Ukraine to remain a sovereign and democratic country, then added, “We want to see Russia weakened to the point that they can’t do the gender things she did in invading Ukraine.
This seems to represent a broader strategic objective than was expressed. The United States has maintained that its military aid is intended to help Ukraine win and defend its NATO neighbors against Russian threats.
Journalists who accompanied Austin and Blinken to Poland were prevented by Pentagon and State Department officials from reporting on the visit from Kyiv until the two men physically left Ukraine. US officials have cited security concerns.
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►The British government says it believes 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since Moscow launched its invasion two months ago. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said 25% of Russian combat units sent to Ukraine “have been rendered non-combat effective”. Russia acknowledged 1,351 military casualties.
►Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Croatia of “destroying bilateral relations” for failing to provide “humanitarian” passage to 24 Russian diplomats and embassy staff who expelled from Croatia because of the war in Ukraine. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the allegations are Russian propaganda.
►Greenpeace said its environmental activists chained themselves to a Russian tanker to prevent it from unloading its cargo south of the Norwegian capital, claiming Norwegian companies are ‘funding Russia’s war’.
►Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said new evidence showed Russian troops killed tens of thousands of civilians in Mariupol and then tried to cover it up.
►Russia’s Energy Ministry has acknowledged a massive fire at an oil depot in the western city of Bryansk, less than 100 miles from the Ukrainian border, on the same day Russia attacked Ukrainian rail and oil facilities.
New mass grave discovered near Mariupol, other possible could show extent of calamity
Satellite photos released in recent days appear to show mass graves near Mariupol that could provide further clues to the extent of the disaster in the beleaguered port city in southern Ukraine.
Mayor Vadym Boychenko said authorities were trying to estimate the number of victims at a recently discovered grave about 10 km north of Mariupol.
The strategically valuable city was the subject of relentless bombardment and fierce street fighting for two months, leaving much of it in ruins. Around 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers remain locked in a steel mill amid Russian airstrikes, and around 1,000 civilians are also believed to have taken refuge at the Azovstal plant.
An offer by the Russian military to open a humanitarian corridor on Monday for civilians to leave was met with skepticism by Ukrainian authorities, who pointed out that the Russians had previously backed out of such arrangements. Around 100,000 residents are trapped in Mariupol, prompting Ukraine’s foreign minister to call for UN intervention to get them out.
In his nightly video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that after two months of war, “the life of peaceful towns and villages has turned into hell”.
Sweden and Finland to apply to join NATO, reports say
Swedish and Finnish media are reporting that their governments will submit NATO bids next month after Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine fueled growing support for the two Nordic countries to join.
Finnish newspaper Iltalehti said on Monday that the Swedish government wants “a common date for the publication of NATO candidacies” and mentions the week of May 16. Swedish tabloid Expressen said it confirmed the plan with sources in its government. The two countries have long cooperated with NATO on defense issues, and the United States supports their membership. Finland shares an 830 mile border with Russia.
NATO has provided support to Ukraine since the invasion two months ago, but has staunchly refused to institute a no-fly zone for Ukraine, which is not a member of the alliance. NATO leaders have said the alliance will fully defend any member facing attack.
Russia prepares for eastern assault by striking elsewhere in Ukraine
Part of Russia’s plan to capture much of eastern Ukraine appears to involve assaults on other parts of the beleaguered nation.
The Russians launched a series of attacks on crucial Ukrainian infrastructure in the central and western regions on Monday, hitting railway and oil facilities, including one near the western city of Lviv. The strategic strikes are seen as an attempt to cut Ukrainian supply lines that would provide support for the eastern defence.
Oleksandr Kamyshin, the head of Ukraine’s state-run railways, said five railway facilities in central and western Ukraine were hit Monday morning. Ukrainian authorities said at least five people were killed by Russian strikes in the central region of Vynnytsia.
Russia also destroyed an oil refinery in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, as well as fuel depots, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said. In total, Russian warplanes destroyed 56 Ukrainian targets overnight, he said.
Explosions in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, which borders Ukraine
Police in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria said multiple blasts believed to be caused by rocket-propelled grenades hit the State Security Ministry on Monday, with no reported injuries but smashing windows and causing the fume smoke from the building.
Transnistria, a strip of land of about 470,000 people between Moldova and Ukraine to the east, has been under the control of separatist authorities since a 1992 war with Moldova. Russia is theoretically basing around 1,500 troops there as peacekeepers, but there are growing fears that these forces could be used to invade Ukraine through its western border.
Russian commander Rustam Minnekayev said last week that the country’s forces intended to take control of southern Ukraine, which would pave the way for Transnistria.
The Moldovan Foreign Ministry said that “the purpose of today’s incident is to create pretexts to strain the security situation in the Transnistria region”. The United States has previously warned that Russia may launch “false flag” attacks against its own side to create a pretext to invade other nations.
International Criminal Court joins investigation into possible war crimes
The International Criminal Court in The Hague will join the investigation into alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine. A joint investigation team has been set up by Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine to prepare for possible prosecutions within the countries and before the international tribunal. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan and the attorneys general of the three countries signed an agreement on Monday.
The agreement sends a “clear message that all efforts will be undertaken to effectively gather evidence on core international crimes committed in Ukraine and bring those responsible to justice”, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation said in a statement. a statement.
Ukrainian authorities have accused Russian leaders and the military of targeting civilians, saying mass graves have been discovered with hundreds of victims. Russia has denied the allegations, accusing the Ukrainian military of faking photos of the dead or carrying out the murders and blaming Russia in a bid to build international support.
Biden appoints Bridget Brink as US Ambassador to Ukraine
President Joe Biden announced on Monday that he would nominate Bridget Brink as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, filling a post that had been vacant for three years. Brink is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and currently serves as Ambassador to Slovakia. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first US ambassador to Ukraine since Donald Trump removed Marie Yovanovitch from her post in 2019. Yovanovitch’s dismissal was a factor in Trump’s first impeachment.
Brink, a Michigan native, previously served as a senior adviser and deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and was responsible for issues related to Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. She also served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and Tbilisi, Georgia.
How much money did the United States send to Ukraine?
The latest U.S. financial commitment to Ukraine represents only a small fraction of total spending for the beleaguered country of 43 million people. Since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, the United States has committed about $3.7 billion in “security assistance”, the White House announced on Monday. The United States has provided more than $4.3 billion since the start of the Biden administration.
The United States provides more than firearms and ammunition, announcing last week that it would give Ukraine an additional $500 million to help its government fund critical operations. The United States provided $500 million in similar aid last month.
“Ukrainians are standing up, they are standing strong, and they are doing it with the support that we have coordinated literally from around the world,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
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