Ukraine Braces For ‘Much Pain’ From Russia’s Offensive In East As EU Responds To Gas Cut

 Ukraine Braces For ‘Much Pain’ From Russia’s Offensive In East As EU Responds To Gas Cut

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has decried the “absurdity” of Moscow’s war in Ukraine as Russia steps up its large-scale offensive in the east more than two months after it invaded its neighbor.

The UN chief, who arrived in Kyiv on April 28 following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow the day before, toured several towns just outside Kyiv – including Bucha and Borodyanka – where the corpses of civilians, some showing signs of torture, were found after Russian troops withdrew earlier this month.

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The apparent evidence of atrocities has prompted calls from several countries, as well as the UN and the International Criminal Court (ICC), for investigations to determine whether war crimes were committed.

“I fully support the ICC and I appeal to the Russian Federation to accept, to cooperate with the ICC,” Guterres said after visiting the two locations, adding, “but when we talk about war crimes, we cannot forget that the worst of crimes is war itself. “

“The war is an absurdity in the 21st century. The war is evil. There is no way a war can be acceptable in the 21st century,” Guterres added.

“We will continue our work to expand humanitarian support and secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones,” Guterres tweeted.

“The sooner this war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and the world,” he said ahead of talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

As Guterres toured areas near the capital, which is located in the northern part of the country, Russia pressed on with its offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine, attacking along a strategic frontline highway linking Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, with the Russian-occupied city of Izyum.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov warned on April 27 of major “destruction” in the east of the country, as Russia “will try to inflict as much pain as possible” on Ukraine in its ongoing offensive in the east.

Reznikov warned of “destruction and painful casualties” among Ukrainians as he and officials from about 40 countries met for a second day at the US air base at Ramstein, Germany.

“This is a true coalition whose goal is not just to hold the Kremlin accountable, but to defeat Russian tyranny, to ensure the civilized world can win this war,” Reznikov said on Facebook.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense warned early on April 28 that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet retained the ability to strike Ukrainian and coastal targets.

Despite losing the landing ship Saratov and the cruiser Moskva, Russia still has some 20 naval vessels, including submarines, in the Black Sea operational zone, the ministry said on Twitter.

In its daily intelligence report, the ministry said that Russia was temporarily unable to replace its lost vessels, as Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of ​​Marmara and the Mediterranean “remains closed to all non-Turkish warships.”

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is ready to back Ukraine in its war against Russia even if the conflict stretches for years.

“We need to be prepared for the long term …. There is absolutely the possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years,” Stoltenberg told a youth summit on April 28, adding that the alliance will help Kyiv upgrade its Soviet-era weapons to modern Western military equipment.

The United States, NATO’s largest member, has already provided $ 3 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

US President Joe Biden is due to formally ask Congress for billions of dollars in additional US funds earmarked for supplying Ukraine’s military and bolstering its economy. Biden is set to comment on April 28 in support of Kyiv’s fight against Russia, a day after Putin threatened “lightning-fast retaliation” if other countries interfere in Ukraine.

Russia has told the West to stop sending arms to Ukraine, saying large Western deliveries of weapons were inflaming the conflict.

Addressing lawmakers in St. Petersburg on April 27, Putin warned against foreign interference in Ukraine.

“If anyone intends to intervene in the ongoing events from the outside, and create strategic threats for Russia that are unacceptable to us, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning-fast,” said Putin, according to video of his address supplied by Russian media.

Amid the ongoing fighting, the humanitarian situation has been worsening.

Russian forces pounded a steel plant in Mariupol where the city’s last defenders and some civilians are holed up.

Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to the city’s mayor, said there had been no let-up in air strikes on the Azovstal plant. Several recent attempts to establish a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to escape have failed.

During his talks with Putin, Guterres repeated calls for both Russia and Ukraine to work together to set up humanitarian corridors. Putin told him he hoped that negotiations could end the conflict though talks remain stalled.

Canadian lawmakers voted unanimously on April 27 to call Russia’s attacks in Ukraine a “genocide,” with members of parliament saying there was “ample evidence of systemic and massive war crimes against humanity” being committed by Russia.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Russia has denied targeting civilians since it launched its unprovoked war in Ukraine on February 24.

A series of recent blasts in the Russian-backed separatist region of Transdniester, which has a border with Ukraine, has raised fears that the war could spill over into Moldova.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on April 28 said Moscow saw the Transdniester incidents as an attempt to drag it into the wider conflict in Ukraine.

Zakharova was talking a day after Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak accused Moscow of wanting to use Transdniester to “destabilize” Moldova, amid fears that the war could spill over into Moldova proper. Transdniester has a border with Ukraine.

“If Ukraine falls, tomorrow Russian troops will be at Chisinau’s gates,” Podolyak said, referring to Moldova’s capital, after separatist authorities in Transdniester called the blasts “terrorist attacks.”

With reporting by AP, AFP, BBC, CNN, DPA, and Reuters

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