Ukraine calls for NATO weapons as fighting on Eastern front lines


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine told its core industrialists to leave while they could and urged Western nations to send “weapons, weapons, weapons” on Thursday after Russian troops withdrew from the divided outskirts of Kyiv to rally on the offensive in the east of the country.

Russia’s six-week-old invasion failed to seize Ukraine’s capital quickly and achieve what Western nations say was President Vladimir Putin’s original goal of overthrowing the Ukrainian government. Russia’s focus is now on the Donbas, a Russian-speaking region in eastern Ukraine.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister in Brussels, urged NATO to provide more weapons for its war-torn country to prevent further atrocities. as reported in the suburbs of Kyiv in the north of the country. Ukrainian authorities are also working to identify hundreds of people they say were found in Bucha and other towns after the withdrawal of Russian troops and to document what they say were war crimes.

“My agenda is very simple … there are weapons, arms and weapons,” Kuleba said as he arrived at NATO headquarters. for talks with the Foreign Minister of the military on Ukraine’s struggle to defend itself.

“The more weapons we get and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more lives will be saved,” he said.

Some NATO nations are worried that it could be Russia’s next target, but the Alliance seeks to avoid actions that could draw any of its 30 members directly into the war. However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged member states to send more weapons to Ukraine, not just defensive ones.

“Ukraine is fighting a defensive war, so this distinction between offensive and defensive weapons has no real meaning,” he said.

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Western countries have provided Ukraine with portable tank and air defense weapons, but they have been reluctant to provide aircraft or tanks as well as any equipment that Ukrainian troops would need to be trained to use.

Asked what his country was after, Kuleba listed planes, missiles on land, armored vehicles and air defense systems.

The U.S. military says Russia has withdrawn an estimated 24,000 or more troops from the northern Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, sent them to Belarus or Russia to reorganize, reorganize and likely prepare to return to combat in the country. east.

A growing number of Putin’s troops, along with mercenaries, have been reportedly moving into the Donbas, where Russian-backed separatists have been battling the Ukrainian army for eight years and controlling two areas.

Prior to the invasion on February 24, Moscow recognized the Luhansk and Donetsk territories as independent states. Military experts have said Putin may also be trying to expand into parts of the Donbas that control the government.

Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said at least five civilians had been killed and eight others wounded in Russia’s shooting on Wednesday. Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, urged civilians to leave a safer area before it is too late.

“Later people will be shot and we will not be able to do anything to help them,” said Vereshchuk.

Another Western official, who also spoke anonymously to discuss intelligence plans, said it could take Russian war-torn forces up to a month to regroup for a major offensive in eastern Ukraine.

Oleksandr Shputun, a spokesman for the Ukrainian military, said on Thursday that near Donbas, Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, had been closed. He said Russian forces were also carrying out “brutal measures” in their southern Kherson province.

In his address to the nation late Wednesday, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, said that Ukraine was also preparing for battle.

“We will fight and we will not retreat,” he said. “We will seek all possible means to defend ourselves until Russia begins to seek real peace. This is our country. This is our future. And we will not give them up. “

In areas north of the capital, Ukrainian officials amassed evidence of Russian atrocities amid signs that Moscow soldiers had killed many people before retreating.

Ukrainian authorities say the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in towns around Kyiv, victims of what Zelenskyy has described as a Russian campaign of murder, rape, dismemberment and torture. Several victims had apparently been shot at close range. Some were found handcuffed.

Western officials warned that similar atrocities were likely to have taken place in other areas occupied by Russian troops. Zelenskyy accused Russian forces of trying to cover up war crimes in areas still under their control, “fearing that world anger over what is seen in Bucha would repeat itself.

“We have information that Russian troops have changed tactics and are trying to remove the dead people, dead Ukrainians, from the streets and basements of the territory they occupied,” he said in a night address. “This is just an attempt to hide the evidence and nothing else.

By switching from Ukrainian to Russian, Zelenskyy generally encouraged Russia “to face the Russian oppression machine in some way” instead of “being like the Nazis all their lives”.

He urged Russia to demand an end to the war, “even if you are ashamed of what the Russian military is doing in Ukraine.

In response to alleged atrocities outside Kyiv, the United States announced sanctions against Putin’s two adult daughters and said tougher sanctions against Russian banks. Britain banned investment in Russia and vowed to end its dependence on Russian coal and oil before the end of the year.

The US Senate planned to pass legislation on Thursday to end normal trade relations with Russia paving the way for higher tariffs on some imports, and to legislate for President Joe Biden’s action banning imports of Russian oil.

The European Union is also expected to impose additional sanctions, including a trade embargo on coal.

The Kremlin has claimed that its troops did not commit war crimes, and it is alleged that the pictures of Bucha were staged by Ukrainians.

Bodies were still being collected in the city. On Wednesday, the Associated Press saw two people in a house in a quiet neighborhood. From time to time, the silence of the workers who cleared the town of landmines and other unexploded ordnance disturbed the silence.

Cemetery staff began loading more than 60 bodies into a food truck to transport facilities for further investigation.

Police said they had found at least 20 bodies in the Makariv area west of Kyiv. In the village of Andriivka, residents said that the Russians arrived in early March, took the locals’ phones and detained them, and then released the people. Others met with an unknown fate. Some people sheltered for weeks in cellars that are usually used to store vegetables.

“At first we were scared, now we are hysterical,” said Valentyna Klymenko, 64. She said she, her husband and two neighbors survived the siege by sleeping on potatoes covered with a mattress and a blanket. “We did not cry at first. Now we are crying. “

In the southern port city of Mariupol, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said of the more than 5,000 civilians killed. in the weeks of Russia bombings and street fights were 210 children. Russian troops carried out airstrikes on hospitals, including one where 50 people were burned to death, he said.

Boichenko said more than 90% of the city’s infrastructure was destroyed. The attacks on the strategic city on the Azov Sea have halted food, water, fuel and medicine, destroying homes and businesses.

The British defense authorities said 160,000 people were still trapped in the city, which had a population of 430,000 before the war. A humanitarian train accompanied by the Red Cross has been trying to enter the city for days, without success.

The capture of Mariupol would enable Russia to secure a continuous landing on the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow captured from Ukraine in 2014.

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Oleksandr Stashevskyi and Cara Anna of Bucha, Ukraine, Edith M. Lederer of the United Nations, Yuras Karmanau of Lviv, Ukraine and Associated Press journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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