As fighting continues, Ukraine awaits visit from US officials

As fighting continues, Ukraine awaits visit from US officials

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is one of the officials who will visit kyiv / File photo.

The heads of US diplomacy and defense were expected in kyiv for their first visit to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion two months ago, at a time of bloody fighting in the east of the country.

The visit of the US Secretaries of State, Anthony Blinkenand Defense, Lloyd Austinto the Ukrainian capital coincides with the festivities of Orthodox Easter, which is celebrated in Ukraine, Russia and several other countries.

Since the beginning of the conflict, several European leaders have traveled to kyiv to meet with the president Volodymyr Zelensky and provide support to Ukraine, but the United States had so far not sent any high-ranking officials.

“Our souls are filled with a fierce hatred towards the invaders and everything they have done. Let’s not let rage destroy us inside,” Zelensky said in a statement for the Easter holiday, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

From the old Saint Sophia Cathedral, the president added that “today’s great celebration gives us great hope and unshakeable faith that light will overcome darkness, good over evil, life over death, and that Ukraine will surely will succeed.”

Hours earlier, the president said he was preparing for “important talks with American allies.”

call to truce

Pope Francis renewed this Sunday and before thousands of faithful in Saint Peter’s Square his call for a truce in Ukraine on the occasion of Orthodox Easter.

The US State Department declined to comment on the highly sensitive trip by two of the president’s top cabinet members. Joe Biden.

On the ground, Russian forces show no sign of easing their attacks after launching missiles on the southern city of Odessa on Sunday, which Ukraine says killed eight people, including a baby, and injured 18 others.

“Among the dead is a three-month-old baby. How did she threaten Russia? It seems that killing children is a new national idea of ​​the Russian Federation,” Zelensky said in a video.

He also accused Russia of being a “terrorist state” and of acting “like the Nazis” in the devastated city of Mariupol, also in southern Ukraine, which has been heavily bombed for weeks.

The UN called for an “immediate” truce in Mariupol to allow the evacuation of civilians who remain trapped in this Ukrainian port city controlled almost entirely by the Russian Army.

“We need a pause in the fighting right now to save lives. The longer we wait, the more lives will be threatened. They must be allowed to evacuate now, today. Tomorrow it will be too late,” said Amin Awad, UN coordinator for humanitarian assistance. in Ukraine, the AFP news agency reported.

“We need a pause in the fighting right now to save lives. The longer we wait, the more lives will be threatened. They must be allowed to evacuate now, today. Tomorrow it will be too late.”

The latest of several attempts to evacuate civilians failed on Saturday, and a unit of Ukrainian fighters hiding in tunnels under a steel plant, the last to defend the city, appeared to be in dire straits.

Around 200 residents gathered at a designated evacuation site in Mariupol but were “dispersed” by Russian forces, Petro Andiushchenko, a municipal official, said on Telegram.

assured that prevented the evacuation and that other civilians were taken to groups directed to sites under Russian control.

The Ukrainian Joint Chiefs of Staff said that Russian forces continued to bombard the Azov Sea cityincluding the Azovstal steelworks, the last stronghold of the Ukrainian fighters.

Mariupol, which the Kremlin claims to have seized, is key to Russian military plans to carve out a land corridor between Russian-occupied Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Russian offensive

The war entered a new phase last week after Ukraine claimed Russia had launched a long-awaited offensive in the eastern Ukraine region called Donbass, which includes Mariupol.

A high-ranking Russian military officer said two days ago that his country’s goal is to take full control of the two provinces that make up Donbass, Lugansk and Donetsk, and southern Ukraine.

Russian forces, which withdrew from northern Ukraine and the area around kyiv at the end of March to move into Donbass, already occupy much of that region and southern Ukraine.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of Ukraine reported that Russian forces operating in Donbass fired on Sunday at Ukrainian positions along the entire front line.

In a statement, he added that the Russian Army redoubled its advance towards the towns of Siverodonetsk, Kurakhiv and Popasna, in Donbass.

Lugansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said that At least eight people have been killed in Russian airstrikes in the last 24 hours..

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