Ukraine braces for new Russian offensive as Moscow dismisses rape allegations -Breaking
© Reuters. Searchers search for survivors in the rubble left by Russian bombardment. This was during Russia’s invasion Ukraine. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
By Maria Starkova
LVIV (Ukraine) – Ukraine asked for more weapons to aid it in ending the siege at Mariupol. It also requested more Western weapons as it feared a Russian invasion. There were more stories of rapes and other brutalities against civilians of Ukraine by Russian forces.
In televised remarks late Monday, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, stated that Russia may resort to chemical arms as it amassed troops from the eastern Donbas for an assault on Mariupol’s port. This attack would have a devastating effect on thousands of civilians who were under siege for nearly seven weeks.
“When it comes on the necessary weapons, we still depend on supplies, on our partners. Unfortunately, we don’t get the weapons we need faster. He stated that the goal was to get rid of all blockades against Mariupol.
After talks with Putin, the first European Union leader met Putin face-to-face. Karl Nehammer from Austria said that a major offensive was being prepared for him.
Russia, after heavy losses, has withdrawn its forces from Kyiv’s suburbs. Now, it is looking toward Donbas where it wants Ukraine to cede control. Moscow would be able to capture Mariupol and encircle Ukraine’s main force to the east by capturing it.
There are horrifying allegations that Russian troops fled the Kyiv outskirts, including of executions and rapes. Moscow dismissed the claims as Western and Ukrainian provocations, and also charged Ukrainian forces with sexual violence.
Sima Bahous, senior U.N. official said Monday to the Security Council that although all claims must be independently investigated, “the brutality against Ukrainian civilians raises all red flags”.
“We’re hearing more of rape, and sexual violence,” she stated.
Kateryna Chepakha, the president and founder of La Strada Ukraine rights group, said via video to the Council: “We see and know – we want your voices to be heard – violence and rape has been used by Russian invaders in Ukraine as a weapon for war.”
Russia’s U.N. deputy ambassador refuted the accusations and charged Ukraine and its allies with “a clear intent to present Russian troops as sadists or rapists.”
Russia’s defense ministry claimed that the United States was directing Ukraine to create false evidence of Russian violence against civilians, despite its claim to have taken “unprecedented” measures to protect civilians.
According to the ministry, “The United States is a country that has many years’ experience organizing provocations with human victims. It continues its campaign of creating and promoting false evidence.”
The deputy prime minister of Ukraine accused Russia that it held civilians, including activists, journalists and elected officials, in Russian prisons. Reuters was unable to verify this allegation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to meet Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president on Tuesday to discuss Ukraine and Western sanctions. Belarus has been a crucial staging zone for Russian forces.
By banning Russian oil, gas and encouraging other allies to do the same, the United States tried to press Putin into withdrawing his forces.
However, world powers like India and China have resisted sanctioning Russia. Data compiled and published by Reuters shows that India, lured by high oil prices, has bought more Russian crude oil since February 24, than for the entire year.
According to Jen Psaki, a White House spokesperson, Joe Biden spoke in video and stated that it was not in his interest for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to have more reliance on Russian energy.
Modi indicated that in talks with Russia, he had proposed to Zelenskiy and Putin direct negotiations during a short portion of the conference call.
Sergei Lavrov (Russian Foreign Minister) stated that Moscow wouldn’t halt fighting to start a new round in peace negotiations. They last met on April 1.
According to Britain’s defense ministry, Russian shelling continues in Donbas. However, Ukrainian forces have been able to repel several of these attacks and destroy Russian tanks and vehicles as well as artillery.
Luhansk was the governor of an eastern region and told Ukrainian television that there were increasing levels of shelling. He urged civilians to flee.
After an investigation of the intelligence services, France declared six Russian diplomats persona non-grata.