Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a joint news conference in Poland on April 25 after their Kyiv visit. (Video: The Washington Post)Today at 1:00 a.m. EDT|Updated today at 11:33 a.m. EDT
Today at 1:00 a.m. EDT|Updated today at 11:33 a.m. EDT
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IN POLAND, NEAR THE BORDER WITH UKRAINE — On the heels of a visit to Kyiv, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that Russia is clearly “failing” in its war aims and that “Ukraine is succeeding,” while Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States wants to see “Russia weakened to the point where it can’t do things like invade Ukraine.”
President Biden announced that he is nominating Bridget Brink, a career diplomat who currently serves as ambassador to Slovakia, to become ambassador to Ukraine. Blinken, speaking after the first visit by high-level U.S. officials to the Ukrainian capital since Russia’s invasion, also confirmed that the United States would reopen its embassy in Ukraine, with diplomats first operating in the western city of Lviv.
Austin said the United States wants to see Ukraine remain a democratic country, able to defend its sovereign territory. The United States would also provide $713 million in foreign military financing to Ukraine and more than a dozen other nations to purchase new weapons, replenishing arms that were provided to Ukrainian forces, he said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the United States for its “unprecedented” assistance, but a top Ukrainian official has said the country is hoping for far more, asking the Biden administration to provide at least $2 billion per month in emergency economic aid.
Although local officials say that life in the Ukrainian capital is slowly becoming more normal, with businesses open and residents returning, the threat of aircraft and missile strikes persists, and Kyiv has been placed under a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time.Ukrainian officials said no agreement has been reached with Moscow on a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from Azovstal Iron and Steel Works and that the industrial plant remains under attack — despite Russia’s claims that its forces would unilaterally cease fire to allow civilians to escape from the refuge of Mariupol’s last defenders.Zelensky congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron on his reelection in a race against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who has a history of warm relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader sent his own message of congratulations to Macron, who won a second term as French president.The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.Biden praises top officials’ visit to Kyiv to meet with Zelensky Return to menu
The trip that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made to Kyiv to pledge the United States’ continued support to Ukraine “went good,” Biden said Monday.
The officials briefly visited the Ukrainian capital Sunday and informed Zelensky that the Biden administration would be sending new military aid to the embattled country.
“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine,” Austin said.
Biden told reporters that he was planning to discuss the visit with the leaders.
“I’m going to be doing that now,” he said. “I spoke with them before and on the way.”
The three-hour visit to Kyiv came after numerous European leaders have met with Zelensky to publicly express support for the Ukrainian leader as he continues to fight Russia’s invasion of his country.
Biden said he also planned to speak to Emmanuel Macron, who on Sunday became the first French president in two decades to win a second term. He was victorious in a closely-watched race against Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate who has expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I feel good about the French election, number one,” Biden said. “Number two, I tried to talk to him last night. I spoke to his staff and he was at the Eiffel Tower having a good time. And I’m going to be talking to him today.”
Ukraine asks U.S. for $2 billion per month in emergency economic aidReturn to menu
A top Ukrainian official says the country is asking the Biden administration to provide at least $2 billion per month in emergency economic aid, arguing that failure to deliver the money could exacerbate the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion.
Appearing in Washington for meetings with senior U.S. officials, Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko said that the country is seeking a total of at least $5 billion per month in international assistance — with about $2 billion of it coming from the United States — to cover the country’s immediate needs for April, May and June. Beyond these billions in aid, an additional longer-term request is expected to help Ukraine recover from what is estimated to be far greater damage from the war.
“We need to cover this gap right now to attract the necessary finance and win this war,” Marchenko told The Washington Post in an interview.
Video: Easter in destroyed Chernihiv, with message of hope and peaceReturn to menu
In the devastated city of Chernihiv, hundreds of worshipers visited the Church of St. Catherine to celebrate Orthodox Easter. (Video: Joyce Koh, Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)In the devastated city of Chernihiv, hundreds of worshipers visited the Church of St. Catherine to celebrate Orthodox Easter on Sunday. The typically colorful day of celebration — marked with frosted cakes and painted eggs — was a somber yet defiant occasion as the war in Ukraine entered its 60th day.
Photos: Greenpeace protesters chain kayaks to Russian oil tankerReturn to menu
Ukraine war protesters in kayaks and a rubber dinghy have chained themselves to an oil tanker in Norway to prevent what they say is the delivery of nearly 100,000 metric tons of Russian oil, Greenpeace said Monday.
“Oil is not only at the root of the climate crisis, but also of wars and conflicts,” said Frode Pleym, Program Manager for Greenpeace Norway, in a statement.
“I am shocked that Norway operates as a free port for Russian oil, which we know finances [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s warfare,” Pleym continued.
Greenpeace said the activists want a ban on Russian oil imports in Norway and for Esso to “cancel its contracts to buy fossil fuel from Russia in this time of war.” The group also included members of Extinction Rebellion, a global network of climate change activists, Reuters reported.
Photos from the scene show fewer than 10 activists floating in small boats by the tanker and holding up signs that read “Oil fuels war” and “Stop fuelling the war.”
Local television station TV2 reported that up to 10 people were arrested in connection with the incident.
Greenpeace said in a statement that the “peaceful action” is taking place in the Oslo Fjord, in the Slagentangen oil port owned by Esso, which it called a Norwegian subsidiary of U.S.-based ExxonMobil. Exxon Mobil did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post on Monday. A spokesperson from Esso Norway told Reuters it agreed to purchase the oil before Russia invaded Ukraine and that the company does not plan to buy more oil from Russia in the future. “Esso Norway fully complies with all Norwegian sanctions and we support the coordinated international efforts to end Russia’s unprovoked attack,” it told the outlet in an email.
Russia wants to ‘stabilize’ relations with U.S., ambassador saysReturn to menu
By Julian Duplain9:23 a.m.
Russia hopes not only “to stabilize, which is what we want now … but to develop” relations with the United States, Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, told the Russia 24 TV channel. “There is potential for this,” he said.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin went on the offensive again Monday, saying that “the task of splitting Russian society … is coming to the fore in the West, but this is not working,” the RIA Novosti news agency reported. Putin also called for an end to what he described as provocations against the Russian armed forces in Western media outlets.
Antonov, a former military officer, recently told Politico that he had not spoken to Putin since he was appointed ambassador to the United States in 2017. Meanwhile, in Washington, he and his embassy are “in a blockade,” having little contact with American politicians or analysts, he said.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said: “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” His comment followed a visit to Kyiv on Sunday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken for a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
President Biden’s remark in late March that Putin “cannot remain in power” increased the rhetorical pressure on the Russian leader beyond the conflict in Ukraine.
Kyiv declares curfew to counter Russia’s ‘provocative actions’ Return to menu
By Julian Duplain9:04 a.m.
A nighttime curfew in Ukraine’s capital will be enforced from Monday through Friday this week, according to Oleksandr Pavliuk, head of the Kyiv Regional Military Administration.
He said the restrictions — from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. — would “help protect the population from the provocative actions of the enemy.” People involved in “critical infrastructure work” are exempt if they have a special permit and identification card, he said on Telegram.
The curfew comes as Russia intensifies its attacks beyond Kyiv. Russian forces withdrew from the capital area at the start of April, but rail officials reported Monday that stations in western and central Ukraine have come under fire.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were in Kyiv on Sunday and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the first high-level U.S. visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February.
The officials said U.S. diplomatic operations would resume this week in Ukraine, in a first step toward reopening the embassy in Kyiv. President Biden announced Monday that he is nominating Bridget Brink as the next ambassador to Ukraine. She is currently the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia.
Coming weeks ‘critical’ in battle for southeast Ukraine, Milley says Return to menu
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the coming weeks will be “very critical” for the battle between Ukrainian and Russian forces in southern and eastern Ukraine.
“I think it’s accurate that the next several weeks will be very, very critical … for the outcome of this battle that’s shaping up down in the south, the southeast of Ukraine,” Milley said from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he arrived Sunday night ahead of a meeting with more than 40 NATO and non-NATO defense leaders.
Milley will join Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who visited Kyiv on Sunday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at the conference. It is being held both to solicit new military aid and “to coordinate, synchronize our efforts” over the next several weeks, Milley said.
“What we want to do is make sure the right type of aid is getting to the right location at the right time in the right quantities and make sure it’s all properly synchronized to achieve the desired effect and outcome on the battlefield,” he said.
Bryan Pietsch: Here are some takeaways from the British Defense Ministry’s Monday intelligence update and the end-of-day Sunday assessment by the Institute for the Study of War, a D.C.-based think tank:− Russia has made minor gains in some areas in Donbas, the eastern region it’s seeking to control.− But Russia is not devoting large units to carry out “decisive” attacks or allowing troops to pause and regroup, lessening the efficiency and efficacy of its assaults.− Russia’s choice to surround, rather than attack, the steel plant in Mariupol where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are holed up, is depleting troops’ energy.− The ISW said Russia may be preparing for attacks on the plant, a move that it says could bring high Russian casualties.− Meanwhile, British officials say Russia’s Defense Ministry wants to use military rather than civilian channels for bereavement payments for the families of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. The move is probably an effort to further obscure the “true scale” of its losses in Ukraine from the Russian public, according to Britain.
Swiss neutrality blocks German armor from heading to UkraineReturn to menu
By Julian Duplain7:58 a.m.
Germany has been unable to send Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine because Switzerland will not allow the reexport of ammunition used in the armored personnel carriers.
Two German requests were refused due to “Swiss neutrality and the mandatory rejection criteria of the war material legislation,” the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs said. Switzerland restricts the export of military hardware to conflict zones.
The Marder infantry fighting vehicle is made in Germany but uses Swiss ammunition. Ukrainian authorities have requested heavy weaponry from Germany, which has been reluctant to bolster the war supplies. Reuters reported Monday that as many as 100 Marder vehicles were under consideration.
Ukraine says no agreement on humanitarian corridor in MariupolReturn to menu
Russia’s armed forces claim to be unilaterally halting operations near the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works on Monday afternoon to allow civilians to be evacuated from the site where Ukrainian fighters are holding out and civilians have sought protection as Russian troops took over the southeastern city.
But shortly after the announcement, a senior Ukrainian official criticized Russia for announcing the move without negotiations. “The corridor, announced unilaterally, does not provide security, and therefore, in fact, is not a humanitarian corridor,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram. “So, I declare officially and publicly: Unfortunately, there are no agreements on humanitarian corridors from Azovstal today.”
Ukraine also accused Moscow of breaking pledges for a “humanitarian corridor” to evacuate civilians from Azovstal in the past.
Ukrainian officials said Monday that Russia has been striking Azovstal with missiles and bombs, despite calls for an Easter weekend cease-fire due to the risk to civilians. Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defense Control Center, said Ukrainian authorities were the only obstacle to getting civilians out of the plant, and he accused Kyiv of using the civilians as a “human shield,” according to state news agency RIA Novosti.
The news agency said Russian units would “retreat to a safe distance and ensure the exit of civilians, including working personnel, women and children in any direction.” Ukraine has previously accused Moscow of forcibly evacuating Ukrainian civilians to Russia.
Thousands of people are thought to be in the steel plant, a key driver of Mariupol’s industry before the war, using its dense network of underground tunnels to escape the devastation that has hit much of the rest of the city. Although many are Ukrainian fighters, including those from the feared but controversial Azov Regiment, civilians, including children, are also in the complex.
Putin congratulates Macron, staunch opponent of invasion, on reelectionReturn to menu
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron on his reelection to a second term, according to Russian state news services, citing the Kremlin.
The apparent well-wishes come amid a sigh of relief across much of Europe among those who back the European Union and NATO and who oppose Putin’s war in Ukraine. Macron’s opponent, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, is skeptical of the E.U. and the U.S.-led alliance, and she has praised Putin in the past.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also congratulated Macron in a Twitter message in French, calling him “un vrai ami de l’Ukraine” — a true friend of Ukraine.
He added that he appreciated Macron’s support and that he was “convinced that we are moving forward together toward new common victories. Toward a strong and united Europe!”
Other world leaders also congratulated Macron on his win — a result that reaffirmed his role as Europe’s de facto leader now that Angela Merkel has retired as Germany’s chancellor — and cited their partnership with France in combating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden taps Bridget Brink to be U.S. ambassador to UkraineReturn to menu
President Biden announced Monday he is nominating Bridget Brink to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, a move intended to fill a position that has remained officially vacant for three years — and is now even more crucial during the Russian invasion.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Brink, who is currently the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, is “deeply experienced in the region” and “will be a very strong representative of the United States in Ukraine.”
The announcement came as Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the first high-level U.S. visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.
The officials said U.S. diplomatic operations would resume this week in Ukraine, in a first step toward reopening the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Brink’s “decades of experience make her uniquely suited for this moment in Ukraine’s history,” the State Department said in a statement Monday.
Ukraine has not had a U.S. ambassador since 2019. Brink’s nomination is intended to fill a diplomatic void that has remained since President Donald Trump unceremoniously removed Marie Yovanovitch from the position in 2019 — a move that was scrutinized during Trump’s first impeachment inquiry.
Brink, whose Foreign Service career spans more than 26 years, is no stranger to escalating tensions in Eastern Europe.
Call for NATO to patrol Black Sea shipping lanesReturn to menu
By Julian Duplain6:39 a.m.
NATO warships should escort commercial ships in the Black Sea to ensure trading routes can function despite the conflict in Ukraine, says the head of the world’s largest maritime logistics company.
“We should demand that our seafaring and maritime traffic is being protected in international waters. I’m sure NATO and others have a role to play in the protection of the commercial fleet,” René Kofod-Olsen, chief executive of V. Group, told the Financial Times newspaper.
Eighty-four merchant ships remain stuck in Ukrainian ports, with nearly 500 seafarers onboard, according to figures from the International Maritime Organization. About 1,500 sailors have been repatriated from such vessels in the two months since fighting began. The effective cessation of commercial shipping has severely hit Ukrainian grain exports, causing concerns about world food supplies.
“If you look at any other place where there has been any other regional conflict of size and international waters have been impacted, then you would find a situation where you would rely on some form of escorts,” Kofod-Olsen said.
However, NATO has given no indication that it is considering providing such escorts.
Photos: U.S. officials visit Kyiv, meet with ZelenskyReturn to menu
IN POLAND, NEAR THE BORDER WITH UKRAINE — Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and five other Ukrainian government officials. Zelensky, in a news conference ahead of Austin and Blinken’s visit, had asked them not to “come here with empty hands.”
When asked about Zelensky’s comment during a news conference on Monday, Blinken said, “We never come empty-handed.”
Speaking in a hangar in Poland filled with crates of humanitarian aid destined for Ukraine, the two top Biden administration officials said they informed Zelensky of more than $700 million in new military aid to Ukraine and other countries, as well as the administration’s intent to resume diplomatic operations in Ukraine this week, marking the return of U.S. diplomats for the first time since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.