New US military aid program for Ukraine announced as Russia claims capture of Ukrainian marines
US President Joe Biden has approved $800 million in new military aid to Ukraine to help the country fight the Russian invasion, including helicopters, artillery, ammunition and other weapons.
Biden announced the new aid package on April 13 after a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and after the Russian Defense Ministry said more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines had traveled to Mariupol.
“This new assistance package will contain many of the highly effective weapons systems we have already provided and new capabilities tailored to the broader assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine.” , Biden said. said in a press release.
The United States will also continue to facilitate the transfer of weapons from allies and partners around the world, Biden said, adding that the supply of weapons from the United States and other countries has been essential to support the fight. of Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
France and Germany have also pledged to send more weapons in response to Zelenskiy’s calls for more military aid from Western countries.
Russia said that in addition to the surrender of Ukrainian marines in Mariupol, it had taken control of the port. Ukrainian officials said they could neither comment nor confirm the surrender of the marines
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If verified, the assignment would be blow to Ukrainian efforts to hold Mariupol, which has been the scene of fierce street-to-street fighting since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Petro Andryushchenko, assistant to the mayor of Mariupol, said Russia’s claims about control of the port were exaggerated. The Ukrainian armed forces control “most of the city – especially in terms of area”, Andryushchenko told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service.
He called Russia’s claim that it controls more than 80% of Mariupol a “very, very big exaggeration”.
The Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces were attacking the Azovstal industrial district and the port, but a Defense Ministry spokesman said he had no information of a surrender.
“Russian forces are stepping up their activities on the southern and eastern fronts, trying to avenge their defeats,” Zelenskiy said late April 13 in a video address.
As Russian materiel convoys moved in several directions towards the eastern Donbass region ahead of a planned offensive there, a senior Ukrainian official said there would be no humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians in multiple locations on April 13.
In a statement on Telegram, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk accused Russian troops of not respecting the terms of agreements reached to allow evacuations.
“In the Zaporizhzhya region, the [Russians] blocked the evacuation buses, and in the Luhansk region they are violating the ceasefire”, she says.
In Mariupol, Russian state television broadcast a video on April 13 of troops marching with their hands raised, which it said were Ukrainian marines who had surrendered. Similar video footage was circulating on the social media accounts of pro-Kremlin bloggers. The videos could not be independently verified.
“In the city of Mariupol… 1,026 Ukrainian servicemen from the 36th Marine Brigade voluntarily laid down their arms and surrendered,” the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier.
Vadym Denysenko, assistant to the Ukrainian interior minister, dismissed the Russian claim, telling Current Time that it had not been confirmed by the Ukrainian military.
Oleksiy Arestovych, another aide to Zelenskiy, posted a contradictory statement on Facebook, saying instead that the 36th Marine Brigade had broken combat lines and joined units from the Azov Battalion, another military unit that fought to defend the city.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the surrender took place at the Illych steel plant and that 151 wounded soldiers were treated at the scene and taken to hospital in the city of Mariupol.
Earlier on April 13, Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen strongman whose soldiers spearheaded the assault on Mariupol, also said more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines had surrendered.
Kadyrov, a staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has urged remaining Ukrainians in Mariupol’s industrial Azovstal district to surrender.
“Inside Azovstal there are currently around 200 injured people who cannot receive any medical assistance,” Kadyrov said on Telegram. “For them and for everyone else, it would be better to end this unnecessary resistance and return home to their families.”
Mariupol has also been the site of alleged chemical weapons use, which worries international experts.
In his April 12 overnight address, Zelenskiy pointed to the unconfirmed reports, saying that while experts try to determine what the substance might be, “the world needs to respond now.”
Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, said it was possible that phosphorus weapons – which are not classified as chemical weapons – were used in Mariupol.
The presidents of Poland and the three Baltic states visited the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka, northwest of kyiv, in a show of support for the country.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said the city was “soaked in pain and suffering” after civilians were murdered and tortured there and residential homes and other civilian infrastructure were bombed.
“It is hard to believe that such atrocities of war can be perpetrated in 21st century Europe, but this is the reality. This is a war we must win,” Nauseda said in a statement.
The purpose of the visit was to show support for Zelenskiy “and the defenders of Ukraine at a defining moment for this country,” Polish presidential adviser Jakub Kumoch said in a statement.
The visit came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to continue his bloody offensive.
The four countries fear to face a Russian attack in the future if Ukraine falls.