In the absence of fighter planes, Ukraine will have drones. While the United States estimated last week that Ukraine did not need fighter jets to fight against Russian forces, despite multiple Ukrainian requests, Joe Biden announced on Wednesday the releasing an additional $800 million to provide military aid to Ukraine, part of which involves sending 100 drones to fight Russian artillery pounding cities. According to a military source, quoted by AFP, these are “Switchblade”, so-called “kamikaze” drones which explode on contact with the target and whose smaller model makes it possible to destroy light armored vehicles.
The reference to Pearl Harbor
The announcement came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a video-linked speech to the United States Congress, in which he urged the United States to provide Ukraine with more weapons to deal with the aerial bombardment by Russia, inviting American parliamentarians to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the attacks of September 11, 2001.
If Joe Biden opposes Ukrainian demands to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine, because it could start a third world war in his words, the United States will therefore provide more muscular military assistance.
In addition to the drones, this envelope of 800 million dollars ” includes 800 anti-aircraft systems to allow the Ukrainian army to continue to stop the planes and helicopters which attack (Ukraine)”, indicated Joe Biden, specifying that these anti-aircraft defense systems would feature longer-range missiles than the Stingers already supplied .According to the same American military source, these are Russian S-300s, first generation competitors of the American Patriot, which could come from certain countries of the former Soviet bloc which still have them, in particular Slovakia and Bulgaria. Weapons that the Ukrainian army masters well. The United States has them too. In December 1994, they had received some after the collapse of the USSR, from Belarus. In addition to these S-300s, Washington will also send 800 new Stinger portable surface-to-air missile launchers, effective against helicopters and low-flying planes, which will be added to the more than 600 Stingers already provided.
The United States will also provide 9,000 anti-tank systems (including 2,000 Javelins) and 7,000 light weapons such as submachine guns, assault rifles, pistols and grenade launchers.
Fear of Russian chemical and bacteriological weapons
Ukraine and Western powers fear that Russia may use chemical or bacteriological weapons. In which case, it would be the fault of Russia and this would lead to “massive and radical” economic sanctions against Moscow, warns the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, in an interview with Le Parisien.
“If attacks with chemical or bacteriological means took place in Ukraine, we would know who would be solely responsible. It would be Russia. Unfortunately, we are used to its disinformation actions from Syria,” says Jean- Yves Le Drian in this interview posted online Wednesday evening.
“It goes without saying that the use of unconventional means would constitute an intolerable escalation and would lead in response to absolutely massive and radical economic sanctions, without taboos”, he adds.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has expressed concern in recent days that Russia may resort to chemical attacks in Ukraine. Moscow in return accuses the United States of having developed biological weapons laboratories in the country, an allegation deemed fanciful by Washington. In his interview, Jean-Yves Le Drian accuses Russia of being engaged in Ukraine, where the Russian army launched a vast offensive on February 24, in a “dramatic process of long-lasting brutality”. Russian logic, believes the head of French diplomacy, “is based on the usual triptych: indiscriminate bombardments, so-called humanitarian ‘corridors’ designed to then accuse the
Towards a compromise on the status of Ukraine?
However, kyiv and Moscow discussed on Wednesday certain avenues likely to lead to a compromise on the status of Ukraine, outlining the hope of a possible way out of the crisis after three weeks of war. Volodimir Zelensky said negotiations between the two sides were becoming more “realistic” and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said some language under discussion could be agreed upon. Vladimir Putin, who ordered the launch of Russia’s massive military offensive against Ukraine on February 24, said Moscow was ready to discuss a neutral status for its neighbor.
The Kremlin leader added, however, that Russia would achieve its goals in Ukraine and that the West would fail in what he said was an attempt at world domination and the dismemberment of his country. The Russian assault, which Moscow presents as a “special operation”, is taking place as planned, he assured during an intervention before his ministers broadcast on state television.
“A status of neutrality is now being seriously discussed alongside, of course, security guarantees,” Sergei Lavrov said.
“There are absolutely precise wordings that in my view are close to being agreed upon.” Russia’s top negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, said on state television:
“Ukraine offers an Austrian or Swedish version of a neutral demilitarized state but at the same time a state with its own army and its own navy.”
In an apparent sign of openness, Volodimir Zelensky said on Tuesday that Ukraine was ready to accept guarantees in terms of security from Western countries, even if it meant giving up on its long-term objective of joining the NATO.
The head of the Ukrainian delegation to the talks, Mykhailo Podolyak, said that kyiv still demanded a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops and wanted direct negotiations between Volodimir Zelensky and Vladimir Putin.
If Russia presents the demilitarization and neutrality of Ukraine as the main objectives of its “operation”, with the “denazification” of the country, kyiv and its allies believe that the real goal of Moscow is to oust the elected government pro- Western power in Ukraine.
The fighting continues
However, despite the continuation of talks, fighting continues on the ground. On Thursday, the Ukrainian president implored Westerners to help “stop this war” as a Russian strike killed at least 27 people in eastern Ukraine.
The perpetrators of war crimes in Ukraine will be “accountable” before international justice, for their part warned the G7 foreign ministers in a joint statement, stressing that the “collection of evidence” was in progress.
An accusation taken up by the head of American diplomacy: “Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After so much destruction in the last three weeks, I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing anything other than that”, declared Antony Blinken Thursday in Washington.
Referring to the talks in progress between kyiv and Moscow, Antony Blinken estimated that Russia had not shown so far “significant effort”.
“On the one hand, we salute Ukraine for remaining at the negotiating table while it is under bombardment, and on the other hand, I have not seen a significant effort from Russia to put an end through diplomacy to the war it is waging,” he said.
Antony Blinken also assured that President Joe Biden would threaten his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, with whom he is to meet on Friday, with reprisals if China were to “support Russian aggression”, in particular by sending aid military in Moscow.
The Ukrainian president for his part launched: “a people is being destroyed in Europe”, addressing the German Bundestag by videoconference. “Help us stop this war!” he added, given a standing ovation by the deputies.
Ukraine has lived for three weeks to the rhythm of announcements of deadly Russian strikes on its cities, which it accuses the Kremlin of purposely targeting. Latest, an artillery strike killed at least 27 people Thursday morning in Merefa, near the besieged city of Kharkiv (east).
“A school and a cultural center were destroyed. 21 people were killed and 25 injured, 10 of whom are in serious condition,” the regional prosecutor’s office said.
Eyes were also on Thursday towards Mariupol, a port city in the south-east besieged and where Volodymyr Zelensky accused Wednesday the Russian air force of having “knowingly” bombed a theater where hundreds of inhabitants were refugees.
“The world must finally admit that Russia has become a terrorist state,” he added.
The town hall of this strategic port on the Sea of Azov, according to which “more than a thousand” people were in an air-raid shelter under the theater, indicated Thursday afternoon that it did not yet know the results of this strike which largely destroyed the building. The clearing of the rubble continues despite the incessant bombardments, but “the information on the victims is still being clarified”, indicated the municipality on Telegram.
Russia claimed not to have bombed the city, and claimed that the building had been destroyed by the Ukrainian nationalist Azov battalion. According to the Mariupol town hall, however, the situation is “critical” with “uninterrupted” Russian bombardments and “colossal” destruction. According to initial estimates, around 80% of the city’s housing stock was destroyed” by the bombing, the municipality added.
“More than 350,000 residents of Mariupol continue to hide in shelters and basements because of the continuous shelling,” the town hall said.
Since the beginning of the offensive on February 24, the Russian forces have not yet claimed the capture of any major Ukrainian city, even if they have clearly progressed in the south and seem to be advancing in the east of the country.
No overall assessment has ever been provided, even if President Zelensky mentioned on March 12 the death of “about 1,300” Ukrainian soldiers, while Moscow only reported nearly 500 dead in its ranks on March 2.
One hundred and eight children have been killed and 120 injured in the country since the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office said on Thursday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) denounces in particular the numerous strikes on health infrastructures.
More than three million Ukrainians have already taken the road to exile, the vast majority to Poland. Thousands of them continue their journey to other countries, such as Sweden: Stockholm estimates that they arrive at the rate of nearly 4,000 people a day, and does not rule out receiving up to 200,000.
Vladimir Putin hammered Wednesday in a speech that the offensive was “a success”. His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the “overwhelming majority” of Russians supported the line decided by Vladimir Putin.
The others are “traitors”, and the conflict reveals them, allowing a “purification” of society, he added, while many Russians opposed to the Kremlin have left the country since the start of the offensive.
For Biden Putin is a “war criminal”
During an exchange on Wednesday with a journalist at the White House, the American president replied: “Oh, I think he is a war criminal“, after initially answering in the negative to the question of whether he was ready to use these terms to refer to the head of the Kremlin. This is the first time that Joe Biden has made such remarks, which the Kremlin has deemed “unacceptable and unforgivable”. Last week, during a visit to Poland, US Vice President Kamala Harris said Russia should “absolutely” be investigated for war crimes in Ukraine. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki later explained that Joe Biden had spoken from his heart, and that investigations would determine whether Vladimir Putin violated international law and committed war crimes, a procedure currently under way. by the US Department of Justice.
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