Ukraine says Russia wants to divide the nation and demands more weapons
- Ukrainian intelligence chief predicts guerrilla warfare
- Zelenskiy calls for more Western military hardware
- Biden says Putin ‘can’t stay in power’
- Russia-backed region flags possible referendum
- Ukraine and Russia agree on two humanitarian corridors
LVIV, Ukraine, March 27 (Reuters) – Russia wants to split Ukraine in two, as happened with North and South Korea, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief said on Sunday, swearing a guerrilla “total” to prevent a division of the country.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged the West to give Ukraine tanks, planes and missiles to help repel Russian forces, which the Kyiv government said were increasingly targeting fuel and weapons depots. food.
US officials on Saturday continued their efforts to soften the words of US President Joe Biden, who said in a fiery speech in Poland that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power”. Read more
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had no regime change strategy in Moscow and that Biden had simply meant that Putin could not be “qualified to go to war” against Ukraine or anywhere else. Read more
After more than four weeks of conflict, Russia has failed to seize any major Ukrainian city and Moscow signaled on Friday that it was scaling back its ambitions to focus on securing the Donbass region in the east of Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists were fighting the Ukrainian military. for eight years.
A local leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic said on Sunday that the region could soon hold a referendum on joining Russia, just as happened in Crimea after Russia seized the Ukrainian peninsula. in 2014.
Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to break with Ukraine and join Russia – a vote that much of the world refused to recognize.
“In fact, this is an attempt to create North Korea and South Korea in Ukraine,” Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, said in a statement, referring to the division of Korea after the war. Second World War.
He predicted that the Ukrainian army would push back the Russian forces.
“Besides, the season of a full Ukrainian guerrilla safari will soon begin. Then there will remain a relevant scenario for the Russians, how to survive,” he said.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesman also dismissed talk of any referendum in eastern Ukraine.
“All fake referendums in the temporarily occupied territories are null and void and will have no legal validity,” Oleg Nikolenko told Reuters. Read more
‘CRUEL AND ESSENTIAL’
Moscow says the goals of what Putin calls a “special military operation” include the demilitarization and “denazification” of its neighbor. Ukraine and its Western allies call it a pretext for an unprovoked invasion.
The invasion devastated several Ukrainian cities, caused a major humanitarian crisis and displaced around 10 million people, nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s total population.
Tatyana Manyek, who crossed the Danube by ferry to Romania on Sunday with other refugees, said residents of her hometown of Odessa were “very scared” but she would have been left without her daughter.
“It would be very difficult to provide the child with basic living conditions. That’s why we decided to leave,” she said, hugging a pet dog.
In his Sunday blessing, Pope Francis called for an end to the “cruel and senseless” conflict. Read more
“War must be repudiated, a place of death where fathers and mothers bury their children, where men kill their brothers without even seeing them, where the powerful decide and the poor die,” he said.
Zelenskiy demanded in a late-night televised address on Saturday that Western nations return military hardware that was “gathering dust” to stockpiles, saying his country only needed 1% of NATO aircraft and 1% of its tanks. Read more
Western nations have so far supplied Ukraine with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles as well as small arms and protective equipment, without offering heavy armor or aircraft.
“We’ve been waiting for 31 days already. Who’s in charge of the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it really Moscow again, because of bullying?” Zelenskiy said, suggesting Western leaders were withholding supplies because they were afraid of Russia.
Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said Russia has started destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage centers, meaning the government is expected to disperse stockpiles of both in the near future.
Appearing to confirm this, Russia said its missiles on Saturday destroyed a fuel depot as well as a military repair plant near the western city of Lviv, just 60 km (40 miles) from the Polish border. Read more
The British Ministry of Defense said Russian forces appeared to be focusing their efforts on encircling Ukrainian troops directly facing breakaway regions in the east.
“The battlefield in northern Ukraine remains largely static, with local Ukrainian counterattacks hampering Russian attempts to reorganize their forces,” the ministry said.
Biden has come under fire for his off-the-cuff remarks during a speech in Warsaw that sought to frame the war as part of a historic struggle for democratic freedoms.
“For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power,” Biden said of Putin. Previously, he had called Putin a “butcher”.
US officials have attempted to backtrack on the president’s words.
“As you know, and as you’ve heard us say many times, we don’t have a regime change strategy in Russia — or anywhere else, for that matter,” Secretary of State Blinken told reporters. on a trip to Jerusalem.
The United Nations has confirmed 1,119 civilian deaths and 1,790 injuries across Ukraine, but says the true toll is likely to be higher. Ukraine said on Sunday that 139 children had been killed and more than 205 injured so far in the conflict.
Ukraine and Russia agreed on Sunday on two “humanitarian corridors” to evacuate civilians from frontline areas, including allowing people to drive out of the southern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna said. Vereshchuk.
The encircled port, located between Crimea and eastern areas held by Russian-backed separatists, has been devastated by weeks of heavy shelling. Thousands of residents are sheltering in basements with little water, food, medicine or electricity.
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Reporting by Reuters journalists in Mariupol, Natalia Zinets and Maria Starkova in Lviv, Jarrett Renshaw in Warsaw and Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Guy Faulconbridge in London and Matthias Williams Writing by Aidan Lewis, Crispian Balmer and Lincoln Feast Editing by William Mallard, Frances Kerry and Gareth Jones
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