Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Llyod Austin will arrive in Kiev on Sunday to discuss US arms supplies to Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Saturday.
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11:03 pm: Meeting between Zelensky, Blinken and the US Secretary of Defense in Kiev
According to the Ukrainian presidency, a meeting took place in Kiev on Sunday evening between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“The Americans are in Kiev today. They are in talks with the president right now,” an adviser to the Ukrainian president, Oleksiï Arestovitch, said in an interview broadcast on YouTube that evening.
This is the first meeting between Mr. Zelensky and US government representatives in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.
The talks on Sunday are said to focus primarily on US arms supplies to Ukraine.
Arestovitch reiterated on Youtube Kiev’s desire to see itself supplying “offensive weapons”: “As long as we cannot counterattack, there will be a + new Boutcha + every day,” he said. He launched, referring to this city in the northwestern suburbs of Kiev that had become a symbol of the atrocities committed during the Russian occupation of the region in March.
“The US representatives wouldn’t come here if they weren’t ready to give[weapons],” he estimated.
8:55 pm: Ukraine offers Russia talks next to Azovstal site in Mariupol
Ukraine has offered talks with Russia next to the massive Azovstal metallurgical complex in Mariupol (southeast), where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are still entrenched in a ruined city largely under Russian control, the Ukrainian presidency announced on Sunday. “We invited the Russians to a special meeting session right next to the Azovstal site,” an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Oleksiy Arestovitch, said during a briefing, indicating “waiting for the reply” from the Russian delegation.
Earlier in the day, another adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, recalled on Twitter that Kiev demanded “a truce” in Mariupol for the Orthodox Easter celebrated Sunday, “an immediate humanitarian corridor for civilians” stranded in this city port. and “a special negotiation agreement to exchange military prisoners”.
The huge Azovstal factory is symbolic because it represents the bitterness of the fighting between the Ukrainian and Russian armies in Mariupol, looted by Moscow troops since early March and almost completely destroyed today.
Ukrainian fighters are still entrenched there, with little food and ammunition, and “about a thousand civilians, women and children” and “hundreds injured,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
His Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin demanded the surrender of these last fighters and asked his army to “besiege the area so that not a single fly will pass by”.
Russia says it aims for “total control” over southern Ukraine and the eastern region of Donbass, to have a land bridge to Crimea (south) which will be annexed by Moscow in 2014.
7:57 PM: No Swiss ammunition for Ukraine via Germany
Switzerland has vetoed the supply of Swiss ammunition to Ukraine via Germany, the Swiss Ministry of Economy confirmed on Sunday. Germany planned to send Swiss ammunition to Ukraine at war and Berlin asked Bern if this delivery was possible, according to the Swiss Sunday weekly Sonntagszeitung.
The federal economy ministry confirmed to the Keystone-ATS news agency on Sunday that it had rejected Germany’s request, citing Switzerland’s neutrality and the “necessary criteria of war material legislation”. According to Swiss law, such a delivery is legally impossible, export to countries involved in intensive and protracted internal or international conflicts is prohibited.
The ministry also emphasizes that Switzerland in principle requires a declaration of non-re-export of war material when a country undertakes not to forward war material received from Switzerland without its prior consent. This is a common practice among countries that export war materials to maintain some control over sensitive products.
According to the ‘Sonntagszeitung’, voices are rising in Germany – which Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been accused of with too timid support for Ukraine – to criticize Switzerland, which is partly responsible for Germany making aging German Marder infantry fighting vehicles at Ukraine’s request. . According to the newspaper, these tanks are equipped with ammunition from Switzerland.
With regard to the fact, mentioned by the ‘SonntagsZeitung’, that Swiss ammunition for armored weapons, for example from the United Kingdom, nevertheless arrives in Ukraine, the Ministry of Economy specifies that a distinction must be made between the export of spent war material to States and the outsourcing spare parts and modules to private companies. In the latter case, a declaration of non-re-export is not necessary.
According to the German newspaper ‘Welt am Sonntag’, Chancellor Scholz is expected to announce his decision in the coming days on the sale by the German arms group Rheinmetall of about 100 of these vehicles.
The German federal government declined to comment on this information.
The Swiss Ministry of Economy has clarified that the case has been separated from the United Kingdom and the Swiss-supplied elements for the NLAW (“Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon”) anti-tank weapons that were supplied en masse to the Ukrainian army.
The decision to export these anti-tank weapons and the Swiss modules that compose them rests solely with the British authorities, the ministry said.
3:16 p.m.: Number of refugees nearing 5.2 million
Just over 23,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled their country in the past 24 hours, which has been stormed by Russian forces for two months to the day and is approaching 5.2 million, according to partially updated figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees released Sunday. have been published. According to the UNHCR, 5,186,744 Ukrainians have left their country since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, 23,058 more than the number published on Saturday.
“Today we think of all who celebrate Easter orthodox. For people in Ukraine and those forced to flee the country, it will be another day of fear, anxiety, loss and separation from loved ones, as the war continues unabated. May strength and courage be with them,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted on Sunday.
Just over 1,151,000 Ukrainians have fled since early April, far fewer than the 3.4 million who chose to leave in March alone.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), also affiliated with the UN, indicated that more than 218,000 non-Ukrainians, mostly students and migrant workers, had also left Ukraine for neighboring countries, meaning a total of more than 5.25 million people. have fled the country since the start of the war.
Women and children represent 90% of these refugees, men aged 18 to 60, who are likely to be mobilized and have no right to leave.
Nearly two-thirds of Ukrainian children had to flee their homes, including those who are still in the country.
More than 7.7 million people have left their homes, but are still in Ukraine, according to IOM.
Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine had 37 million people living in areas under government control. This figure excludes Crimea (south), annexed by Russia in 2014, and the eastern regions controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
2:03 pm: The OSCE “worried” about the detention of some of its members
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Sunday it was “extremely concerned” after the arrest in Ukraine, in pro-Russian separatist areas, of some members of its mission. Shortly after the Russian invasion on February 24, the OSCE evacuated several hundred observers from dozens of countries that had been monitoring the ceasefire since 2014.
13:22: Switzerland blocks delivery to Ukraine of ammunition sold to Germany
The Swiss government is blocking a double batch of ammunition manufactured in Switzerland that Germany plans to send to Ukraine to help that country defend itself against Russian invasion, the Sunday newspaper Sonntagszeitung reported Sunday. According to this weekly, the Federal Department (Ministry) of Economy (Seco) invokes the neutrality of the Swiss Confederation and the strict rules it applies to the re-export of military equipment to conflict zones to justify its decision.
12:48 p.m.: Pope renews his call for an Easter truce
On the occasion of Orthodox Easter, celebrated this Sunday, Pope Francis again called for a ceasefire in the fighting in Ukraine and an end to attacks on “exhausted populations”. “Today it’s two months since the beginning of this war,” he recalled on February 24 after Sunday prayers for thousands of believers gathered in St. Peter’s Square, some of whom waved the Ukrainian flag.
12:24 AM: UN calls for “immediate” ceasefire in Mariupol to evacuate civilians
The UN on Sunday called for an “immediate” ceasefire in Mariupol to allow for the evacuation of some 100,000 civilians still trapped in this Ukrainian port almost entirely controlled by the Russian military.
“There must now be a pause in the fighting to save lives. The longer we wait, the more lives are at stake. They must be able to evacuate now, today. Tomorrow it will be too late,” said the UN coordinator in Ukraine Amin Awad in a statement.
11 am: ‘It will take 50 years to clean everything up’
It will undoubtedly take decades to neutralize the thousands of still-active explosives dumped on nearly half of Ukraine’s territory, specialists warn two months after the Russian invasion began.
“It will take 50 years to clear everything,” said Perrine Benoist, director of combating armed violence for the NGO Handicap International, recalling that “50 to 60 years later, we are still demining in Laos, Cambodia. and Vietnam.”.
09:00: “Russian army encounters strong resistance in the Donbass”, says London
The Russian army is experiencing strong resistance from Ukrainian troops in the Donbass, according to the United Kingdom. The British Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update on Sunday morning that Ukrainian forces had repulsed several attacks. Ukrainian troops reportedly inflicted “significant damage” on the Russian military. No other details were given. Ukraine itself reports that it has repulsed 12 Russian attacks in the Donbass in 24 hours, including destroying four tanks and five artillery systems.