Defense/R&D Politics World

Russia-Ukraine war, day 73

The UN Security Council issued its first statement on the war in Ukraine, but withheld from using the words “war”, “conflict” or “invasion”. The statement instead “expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine” and voiced “strong support” for Secretary General Antonio Guterres in seeking a peaceful solution to the “dispute”.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the besieged southern port city of Mariupol is “an example of torture and starvation used as a weapon of war”. He also confirmed in his latest national address, evacuation operations are continuing in Mariupol with 40 civilians rescued. Three evacuation buses left the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, according to Russian media reports. Buses carrying 25 civilians including children were brought out from the plant to a camp in the Russian-controlled town of Bezimenne. An estimated 200 civilians, along with Ukrainian resistance fighters, remained trapped in underground refuges at the huge industrial complex.

On peace talks, Zelenskiy said he was “elected as president of Ukraine and not a mini-Ukraine”, and that Russia must first fall back to the territory it held before its invasion on 23 February if talks are to succeed. He also accused Russia of “outright nuclear blackmail” during the speech at Chatham, the international affairs think tank, saying “Russia is blackmailing Europe through threats”.

The latest US military aid package to Ukraine, announced by president Joe Biden, is worth $150m, secretary of state Antony Blinken confirmed. It includes 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, as well as counter-artillery radars, jamming equipment, field equipment and spare parts. It brings Washington’s military assistance to Kyiv since the Russian invasion began to around $3.8bn, Blinken said.

US defense department spokesperson John Kirby deflected questions about whether the Pentagon provided information to Ukraine that helped military leaders target Russian generals. Kirby would not corroborate the reports, instead saying Ukraine “makes the decisions” when it comes to how they use US intel and stressed that Ukraine combines intelligence from many countries and the US is “not the sole source of intelligence and information to the Ukrainians”.

Germany will also send seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, on top of five artillery systems the Dutch government has already pledged, the German defence minister, Christine Lambrecht, said. The PzH 2000 is one of the most powerful artillery weapons in the Bundeswehr inventories and can hit targets at a distance of 40km (25 miles).

Vladimir Putin will send a “doomsday” warning to the west when he leads Russia’s Victory Day celebrations on Monday. A fly-past over St Basil’s Cathedral will include the Il-80 “doomsday” command plane, which would carry Russia’s top brass in the event of a nuclear war, Russia’s defence ministry said.

A yacht reportedly belonging to Putin was seized by Italian officials. Reporters say the yacht, which had been moored in a Tuscany marina, belongs to Putin. The ministry of economy and finance said in a statement the boat was seized under regulations relating to “actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”.

Russia’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Britain’s ambassador to Russia, Deborah Bronnert, adding that it strongly protested in relation to new UK sanctions on Russian media. Russia would continue to react “harshly and decisively” to all sanctions imposed by the UK, the ministry said in a statement.

Amnesty International said there was compelling evidence that Russian troops had committed war crimes in the Kyiv area in February and March. Civilians also suffered abuses such as “reckless shootings and torture” at the hands of Russian forces when they occupied an area outside Ukraine’s capital, including the town of Bucha, in the early stages of the invasion, the rights group said in a report.

Russian troops are attempting to encircle and storm Severodonetsk, the easternmost city in Ukraine held by Kyiv, a local official said. Severodonetsk’s capture would be a major gain for the Russian army which has refocused its efforts on taking the whole of the eastern Donbas region.

Source: The Guardian

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