Kyiv strikes during Guterres’ visit sparked outrage as arms flowed into Ukraine 2022-04-29 18:50:33


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Ukraine said on Friday that five Russian missiles struck Kyiv during a visit by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres the day before, drawing widespread condemnation as massive amounts of weapons continued to arrive for Ukrainian forces in Eastern Europe.

The transfers over the weekend include more US artillery, radar systems and armed drones, as well as mines, missiles and small arms ammunition from other countries.

The increased pace of shipments comes as Ukrainian forces attempt to repel a major Russian offensive in the Donbass region. A senior US defense official said Russian forces appeared to be “at least several days later than they wanted to be” in the new offensive and faced strong Ukrainian resistance.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon, said the Russians relied on air strikes, followed by artillery fire, before moving their ground forces forward. The official said the ground movements were “a bit sluggish”.

Russia appears to have abandoned its previous goal of capturing Kyiv and other population centers in the northern and central parts of the country, and instead focused on Donbass, the part of eastern Ukraine where fighting has continued for years. In response to urgent Ukrainian requests, the West flooded the country with heavy weapons, including artillery, suitable for an uninterrupted ground campaign.

Thursday’s attack on Kyiv destroyed what Russia called a “weapons factory” and also hit a high-rise apartment building, killing Ukrainian journalist, Vera Herish, who was working for the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This is the first major strike on the capital since the withdrawal of Russian forces from that area earlier this month.

“We are shocked and outraged by the foolish nature of her death in her homeland, in a country and city she loved,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President Jimmy Fly said in a statement. He said her remains were found Friday morning in the rubble of the building.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack – during Guterres’ visit, shortly after seeing Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow – It was an attempt by the Kremlin “to humiliate the United Nations and everything the organization represents.” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, at a joint press conference in Helsinki with his Swedish counterpart to discuss their possible NATO membership applications, called for the matter to be discussed in the United Nations Security Council, where Russia is one of five countries with veto power. Individuals.

Guterres on Friday tweeted pictures of his time touring destroyed buildings around the capital, writing that he was “impressed by the resilience and courage of the people of Ukraine. My message to them is simple: We will not give up.” At the United Nations, deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the Secretary-General did not see the Kyiv attack “related to him”.

“[The secretary general] He sees this as another sign that there are parties that want to continue this war, and we want to keep pushing us to make sure we can end the conflict.

At the Pentagon, spokesman John Kirby said the US military has begun training Ukrainian forces in newly arrived weapons, including a 155mm howitzer and an anti-artillery radar. Kirby said the bulk of the exercises will be conducted by members of the Florida National Guard, which had training forces inside Ukraine even before the Russian invasion in February.

A number of countries attending a US-sponsored conference in Germany of more than 40 countries in support of Ukraine pledged new commitments, reaffirming existing ones. One of the goals of the conference was to synchronize and deliver donations, meeting the immediate needs of Ukraine.

Canada, among those attending, is also supplying howitzers, as well as precision cameras for Turkish-made armed drones and other equipment, Anita Anand, Canada’s defense minister, said in an interview on Thursday. “We need to continue to provide military assistance regardless of the changing strategy of the Russians,” she said.

Briefing reporters on Friday, Kirby used some of his strongest language yet to describe Putin, accusing him of “corruption” in emotional comments. Asked if Putin was a rational actor, Kirby said it was difficult to look at what the Russian leader and his forces were doing two months after the war in Ukraine and “I think any moral and ethical individual could justify that.”

After pausing to express himself, Kirby, a retired admiral, said he could not speak for the entire US government.

“I’ve been around the army for a long time, and I’ve known friends who couldn’t come back,” he told reporters. It’s hard…it’s just hard to look at it, it’s hard to align it – let’s call it what it is – its result,” he said, referring to Putin.

There were stark reminders in Ukraine of the war’s toll. Zelensky told Polish media that officials had discovered a mass grave in the Kyiv region “with the bodies of 900 civilians”. President Zelensky’s spokesman, Serhiy Nikiforov, later said that Zelensky had made a mistake. He said a new mass grave was discovered near Bucha this week, but “900 is the approximate number of bodies found in that area” after the Russian withdrawal.

Among the dead reported Friday was a 22-year-old US citizen and Marine Corps veteran named Willie Joseph Council, who his family said was killed in action this week. It was not immediately clear the nature of Cancel’s activity in Ukraine and the circumstances surrounding his death, which CNN first reported. Willie Cancel, Cancel’s father, told the Washington Post that his son “just wanted to help.”

Major Jim Stinger, a service spokesman, said Cancel joined the Marine Corps in 2017 as an infantryman. His awards indicate that he spent some time at sea and in South Korea. The service said he canceled leaving the army after his court martial in 2020 and serving a five-month prison sentence. A person familiar with the matter said that Taqleh was before a military court after bringing a weapon to the base.

The cancellation would be the first American killed in action in Ukraine. Asked about the death in an unrelated event in Washington, President Biden said, “It is very sad. He left a young child behind.”

Separately, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said it would take “immediate steps” to end its monitoring mission in Ukraine, days after the organization said some of its workers are being held in Russian-occupied territories.

“This is not an easy decision to make,” Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, who became head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in January, He said in a statement. He said the group “explored all possible options through political dialogue…but the position of the Russian Federation left us no choice but to take steps to close the mission.”

Rao did not link the arrests directly to the decision to withdraw. In March, the security organization, made up of 57 member states, said that Russia, the voting member, has opposing Extending the mission, ending a mandate that has been in effect since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

As Europe looks for ways to end its dependence on Russian energy supplies, the heated debate in the European Union over halting oil imports was expected to continue over the weekend. EU diplomats said the relief from Germany, which wants to phase out oil rather than an immediate ban, makes a deal more likely, but far from guaranteed.

The Baltic states and some other Eastern European countries have called for a comprehensive energy ban. Others resisted, notably Germany and Hungary. The ban was seen as increasingly important for undermining key support for the Russian economy as the war entered its third month.

Emily Rohala in Brussels, Timothy Bella, Abigail Hoslohner, Julian Mark and Felicia Sonmez from Washington contributed to this report.