Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky redoubled pressure on its main Western ally, the US. for “more and more powerful weapons”. That target marks the high-impact and most-reserved meeting in kyiv with Joe Biden’s foreign minister, Antony Blinken, and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.
The visit, the highest ranking official in Washington since the beginning of the war it has a high symbolic value on Western support for kyiv.
It also occurs in the midst of insistent versions that the war could enter the last chapter of the current stage after Russia’s seizure of the port city of Mariupol. So on May 9 the autocrat Vladimir Putin could declare victory if he makes gains in the battle in the east of the country and cease the attacks.
Zelensky announced the visit of the US Foreign Minister and Defense Minister hours in advance, during a press conference on Saturday night in a kyiv metro station.
Zelensky announced the visit of the US foreign minister and defense minister hours in advance. AFP Photo
Zelensky said he was looking to the Americans to produce results, both in weapons and security guarantees. “You can’t come empty handedand we’re not just expecting gifts or some kind of cake, we’re expecting specific things and specific weapons,” he said.
Blinken had previously briefly set foot on Ukrainian soil in March to meet with the country’s foreign minister during a visit to Poland. Zelensky’s last face-to-face contact with an American leader was on February 19 in Munich with Vice President Kamala Harris.
While the West has funneled military equipment to Ukraine, Zelensky has repeatedly stressed that the country needs more heavy weapons, including long-range air defense systemsas well as fighter planes.
The summit with the American ministers coincides with Orthodox Easter, when the faithful celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Speaking from kyiv’s former Saint Sophia Cathedral, Zelensky, who is Jewish, stressed the importance of the occasion for a nation torn apart by nearly two months of war.
“Today’s big party gives us great hope and unshakable faith that light will defeat darkness, good will defeat evil, life will defeat death, and therefore, Ukraine will surely win!“, said.
Still, the war overshadowed the celebrations. In the northern town of Ivanivka, where Russian tanks still lined the roads, Olena Koptyl said “Easter holidays don’t bring any joy. I’m crying a lot. We cannot forget how we lived.”
Criticism of the UN
kyiv’s Victor Lobush said Ukraine needs more arms and financial support, and Western nations “don’t buy a drop of Russian oil.” “Actions are needed, not words”said in the Plaza de la Independencia.
Zelensky, in turn, emphasized the need to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, including from the steel plant, in a call Sunday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is scheduled to speak later with Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is scheduled to travel to Turkey on Monday and then to Moscow and kyiv. But Zelenski reproached that tour by arguing that it is a diplomatic mistake to travel to Russia first before going to Ukraine.
“Why? To deliver signals from Russia? What should we look for? There are no corpses scattered on Kutuzovsky Prospect,” he said referring to one of Moscow’s main avenues.
Mariupol has seen fierce fighting since the start of the war due to its location on the Sea of Azov. More than 100,000 people, down from a pre-war population of around 430,000, are believed to remain in the battered city, lacking food, water or heating.
Ukrainian authorities estimate that more than 20,000 civilians have been killed.yes Recent satellite images showed what appeared to be mass graves dug up in towns west and east of Mariupol.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, called for a localized Easter truce. He urged Russia to allow civilians to leave the steel plant and suggested talks to negotiate an exit for the Ukrainian soldiers.
but was not heard. Podolyak tweeted that the Russian military was attacking the plant with heavy bombs and artillery while building up forces and equipment for a direct attack.
Source: AFP and EFE