Ukraine preparing for new Russian offensive in the east, Zelenskiy says -Breaking
© Reuters. Maria, the widow of Vasyl Vekliuk of Ukraine was present at his funeral on March 30, 2022 in Stebnyk (Lviv Region), Ukraine. REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi
By Oleksandr Kozkukhar
LVIV, Reuters – Ukrainian forces have been preparing for Russian aggression in the East of Ukraine after Moscow reorganized its troops near Kyiv.
Russia invaded Ukraine in the fifth week. This has forced a quarter of Ukrainians out of their homes. It also brought Russian-Western tensions up to their highest point since the Cold War.
Russia has not been able to capture any large city in Ukraine, including Kyiv where an armed Russian column was kept away for many weeks, despite the strong resistance of Ukrainian forces. Russia announced at the peace talks in Istanbul that it would cease operations close to Kyiv and Chernihiv’s northern region, as a way of building trust.
The pledge was rejected by the Ukraine and Western allies including the United States as a plot to reduce losses and set up for further attacks. Russia claims its forces have regrouped to “liberate” eastern Donbas.
Zelenskiy, in a video message to the cameras at dawn, referred specifically to Russian troop movements from Kyiv/Chernihiv. He said it was not withdrawal of troops but “the result of our defenders’ work.”
Zelenskiy stated that Ukraine has been witnessing “a buildup of Russian forces to launch new strikes against the Donbass and that we are ready for it.”
Moscow maintains close relations with pro-Russian separatists in control of large swathes within the Donbas, including two self-proclaimed “people’s republics”, which Russia claims it supports in removing Ukraine from its grip.
Denis Pushilin (leader of Donetsk People’s Republic) stated Wednesday that offensive operations are intensifying.
He said, “We know that the longer we take to liberate our territory, these settlements which are currently under the control of Ukraine,”
Donetsk is also home to Mariupol (a besieged city that has suffered heavy fighting and bombardment) where 170,000 are trapped and have no food or water.
We cook whatever we can find in our neighbourhoods. Viktor, a former steel worker, stated that they had found tomato paste, beetroot, and a little bit of cabbage. Their “peaceful oasis” is a basement that they use to cook and rest in.
A Zelenskiy adviser said Wednesday that half the city’s strategic port was taken by Russian forces.
Russia claims it’s conducting a special operation to “denazify” and disarm its neighbor. The West claims that Moscow’s invasion was completely unprovoked.
At the Istanbul Palace peace talks on Tuesday, the fate of the Donbass region in the southeast, which Russia wants Ukraine to cede, was discussed. The talks are expected to resume on Friday, according to an official Ukrainian negotiator.
Ukraine seeks a ceasefire, but not compromise on its territory and sovereignty. However, it proposed a neutral status for security guarantee. Russia is opposed to Ukraine joining NATO’s military alliance under the U.S., and has suggested that it could be a cause for its invasion.
While Russia has been subject to Western sanctions as a punishment for their invasion of Ukraine, Moscow remains the largest source of oil and natural gas to Europe.
Russia sought to leverage its power and demanded that gas and oil payments were made in rubles by Friday. The move raised fears about European energy shortages as well as a rise in recessionary risk in Europe. Germany warned that Russia could cut supplies, triggering an emergency.
In a possible compromise, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, that money could be sent in euros to Gazprombank. Gazprombank would then convert it to rubles.
According to the spokesperson, Scholz refused to agree to the above procedure during the conversation. Instead, he requested written information in order to fully understand the process.
Gazprombank, which is one of the most important channels to receive payments for Russian oil & gas, does not face EU sanctions.
A U.S. official stated that Russia’s invasion has resulted in global sanctions on Russia exports. They have also stopped work on tanks and shut down the Russian car manufacturer.
Thea Kendler, a U.S. Commerce Department official said that it was necessary to bring together an unprecedented cooperation on export control and other measures that have a significant impact on Putin’s war.
Russia believes that the West is effectively declaring economic war against Russia. Therefore, it will turn its attention eastwards to create a partnership between China and Europe.
According to Britain’s GCHQ spy agency, there are risks for both Russia and China if they become too close together.
“Russia is aware that China, in the long term,” Jeremy Fleming declared in Canberra.
Fleming stated that “Some of their interest conflicts; Russia could possibly be squeezed out,”