War in Ukraine, Day 76 | Surprise visit by German and Dutch diplomats

(Kyiv) German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Dutch counterpart Wopke Hoekstra were on Tuesday in Ukraine, where US arms shipments are expected to be accelerated after Joe Biden reactivated an iconic World War II device.

Posted at 6:22
Updated at 9:31 am

David Stout with Dmitry Zaks in Kramatorsk
Media Agency France

what you need to know

  • According to the UN, as of May 3, the conflict has left more than 8 million displaced people in Ukraine;
  • “More than a thousand” Ukrainian soldiers, including “hundreds wounded”, still in Azovstal, according to Kyiv;
  • Moscow will not attend special session of Human Rights Council on Thursday;
  • Hit hard by sanctions, Russian oligarchs are being robbed of their wealth;
  • According to Mayor Vitali Klitschko, almost two-thirds of Kiev’s 3.5 million residents have returned to the Ukrainian capital;
  • Joe Biden on Monday reactivated legislation to speed up shipments of military equipment to Ukraine Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 ;
  • Human Rights Council Special Session;
  • Ukrainians were “sent to Russia against their will,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday;
  • fighting in the east, strikes in Odessa;
  • Finland and Sweden arrive at the time of the elections for their likely NATO candidatures.

Annalena Baerbock traveled to Boutcha, a town near Kyiv where hundreds of dead civilians were discovered after the Russian occupation in March. She spoke to local residents, an AFP journalist noted.

The Dutch minister tweeted him pictures of streets in Irpin, another city near Kyiv where Ukraine accuses the Russians of massacring civilians in March, and writes he will meet with members of the Ukrainian government and his German counterpart .

After attacks on Odessa on Monday that left at least one dead and five wounded, the Ukrainian General Staff announced that Russian artillery fire and airstrikes continued on Tuesday in the east of the country and on the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol (southeast). .

According to a senior Ukrainian government official, “more than a thousand soldiers,” including “hundreds of wounded,” are still in the underground galleries of this massive steel plant, the last nest of Ukrainian resistance in this strategic southern Donbass port.

In the video: Russian military exercises in Ukraine

In the rest of the Donbass basin, the Russians “continue to prepare offensive operations in the Lyman and Severodonetsk regions,” according to the General Staff.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced the capture of Popasna between Kramatorsk and Luhansk in northern Donbass, allowing Russian and pro-Russian forces to reach “the administrative border of the Luhansk People’s Republic,” a pro-Russian republic proclaimed by the separatists themselves, where it joins the other separatist region and self-proclaimed republic, that of Donetsk.

“Historical step”

US military aid, which has already totaled about $3.8 billion since the conflict began, should be further facilitated by the signing of the deal signed by President Joe Biden on MondayUkraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act. This “lend-lease” act echoes the system adopted by Roosevelt in 1941, which gave the US President sweeping powers to support the war effort in Europe.

“I am convinced that Putin believed he could break NATO, that he believed he could break the European Union,” Biden later added during a political fundraiser.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saw the passing of this law as a “historic step”: “We will defend democracy in Ukraine. And in Europe. Like 77 years ago,” he wrote on Twitter.

The date of this signature, May 9, coincides with the grand military parade in Red Square celebrating the 77thand Anniversary of Nazi Germany’s surrender, during which Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his arguments to justify his invasion of Ukraine, which was launched on February 24.

He asserted that Ukraine was preparing an offensive against the pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country who wanted to get hold of the nuclear bomb and described their attack on this state as “preventive”.

In Russia “against their will”

“There was a totally unacceptable threat building up right on our borders,” he said.

Many Muscovites were convinced Russia was fighting fascism again, this time in Ukraine, among the hundreds of thousands who marched Monday to commemorate the victims of the war against Nazi Germany.

Westerners reject Putin’s arguments. The Russian President “is in the midst of a completely revisionist justification of the motives for the war. He has a discourse of denial and reversal of responsibilities,” lamented the head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian on BFMTV.

The United States on Monday called Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “preventive” a “blatant absurdity” and an “insult” to the victims.

The Pentagon claimed on the same day that Ukrainians had been sent to Russia “against their will”, without being able to give a number. Kyiv increases the number of 1.2 million people who were deported and put in camps.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron, who holds the EU’s rotating presidency, urged on Monday not to “humiliate” Russia because he said “tomorrow we will have to build a peace”.

He doubled down on Ukraine’s hopes for quick EU accession, warning on Monday that a possible Ukraine accession would take “decades” and suggested impending accession to a new entity, a “political community of Europe”, which also includes countries as the united states could absorb kingdom.

Hacks and protests in Russia

On the media front, the Russian video platform Rutube was unavailable on Tuesday, the victim of “the biggest cyberattack in its history.”

The platform, which it says has been blocked since Monday, blames the attack on the same hackers who have “constantly attacked the websites of Russian public institutions” since the start of the war.

Ukrainian media also reported with photos on Monday that the broadcasting systems of Russian TV channels MTS, NTV-Plus, Rostelecom and Winx were hacked to spread the message “The blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of their killed children keeps flowing on your hands. TV and authorities lie. No to war”.

A lengthy text calling Russia’s attack on Ukraine “bloody and absurd” was also published Monday morning by two journalists from news site Lenta.ru, believed to be loyal to Russian authorities, before being quickly removed.

“We are now looking for work, lawyers and maybe political asylum,” said authors Egor Poliakov and Alexandra Miroshnikova.

Her gesture is reminiscent of national broadcaster Pervy Kanal’s Marina Ovsiannikova, who illustrated herself in mid-March by bursting live with a sign criticizing Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine during the most-watched TV news program in Russia.

These acts put their perpetrators at risk of criminal prosecution, which could result in severe prison terms, under the terms of a law banning any “false information” about the Russian army.

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