Armistice calls rise as Biden signs Ukraine $40 billion aid package

On Saturday, President Biden promised Ukraine would sign a new $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package against attrition in the eastern region and will not stop fighting until all Russian troops are withdrawn.

But on Saturday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky raised questions about what exactly that meant, acknowledging that the conflict ultimately required diplomatic resolution.

Zelensky said Russia had thwarted earlier attempts to end the war through dialogue and that the conflict is now “very difficult.” “War is bloody, but the end will definitely be in diplomacy,” he said on the third anniversary of his inauguration.

Despite a series of recent setbacks and a shortage of manpower and equipment, Russia has launched a military campaign and domestic propaganda offensive in eastern Ukraine within hours of claiming full control of the port city of Mariupol. It will be the most important gain since the beginning of the war.

Russia said in a statement late Friday that Russian Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu had informed President Vladimir V. Putin of the “complete liberation” of the Mariupol steel plant, where Ukrainian fighters had last protested in the city before the recent capitulation. me. Ukrainian officials did not confirm Russia’s claims.

The Ukrainian military said it had repelled 11 attacks and destroyed eight tanks and other Russian fighting vehicles over the past day in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions collectively known as the Donbas region.

Overall, Mr. Zelensky argued that Ukraine “has broken down the backbone of one of the largest or most powerful armies in the world.”

The war is now in four months and Moscow has retreated first from the capital Kyiv and more recently from the second largest city, Kharkiv, but neither side is currently gaining more than gradual gains.

As the conflict approaches a stalemate and calls for a ceasefire grow louder as both sides fight for supremacy in the Donbas region, the question of what will win, or at least the proper outcome, grows. Ukraine.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi held a debate in parliament on Thursday about Italy’s role in supporting Ukraine and called for a ceasefire “as soon as possible”. “We have to bring Moscow to the negotiating table,” he added.

Germany, France and Italy proposing a ceasefire were fiercely and even badly rejected by Kyiv on the grounds that it was selfish and premature. Ukrainian officials say Russia is little prepared for serious peace talks and that Russian forces are gaining momentum in the war, despite heavy losses in Donbas and Mariupol.

Some parts of Ukraine now claim that the only outcome is to reclaim all territories lost to Russia since 1991, when Russia gained independence from the Soviet Union. This includes all of Donbas and Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014. But Zelensky hinted that he would accept the status quo before the war.

Western diplomats argue that this is a matter for Ukraine to decide. But their unanimity begins to crumble as the details turn.

On Friday, Julian Smith, the US Ambassador to NATO, spoke at a meeting in Warsaw, reaffirming the unwavering US support for Ukraine. “From a final state point of view, we believe Ukraine will win and we want Ukraine to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty,” she added.

But she added another goal. “We want to see Russia’s strategic defeat. We want to see Russia leave Ukraine.”

For the leaders of Eastern Europe and the Baltic, the establishment of a lasting peace and an end to the conflict must include an overwhelming military victory that ends Putin’s presidency. Anything before he leaves, they say, will only pave the way for the next war. They are reluctant to offer to lure Putin back to the negotiating table in Berlin, Paris and Rome.

“Peace cannot be the ultimate goal,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaza Callas said in a recent interview with the New York Times. “I see this only as a one-shot military victory and a solution to punish the aggressor for what he has done.”

Otherwise, she said, “We’re going back to where we started. You’ll have a year or two off and everything will go on.”

“All these events must awaken us from our geopolitical slumber and let us put aside our delusions,” Polish Prime Minister Matteusi Moraviecki said at a meeting in Warsaw on Thursday. “I heard there are attempts to allow Putin to maintain face on the international stage. But how can you save something completely defaced?”

“Russia can only be deterred through our unity, military force and strong sanctions,” he added. “It’s not just a phone call and a conversation with Putin.”

Russia’s foreign ministry released a list of 963 people who will be barred from bearer entry into Russia in its own diplomatic attack on Saturday. The list includes Biden, actor Morgan Freeman and New York Times columnist Brett Stevens. The Ministry of National Defense described the measures as ‘necessary’ retaliation for US ‘hostilities’.

Amid the debate over what the final agreement would look like, Russian and Ukrainian forces entered the battlefield, knowing that every military victory would be a diplomatic advantage.

The Ukrainian military said on Saturday that Russia was clearing landmines in an attempt to restart the port of Mariupol. Reopening the port would not only strengthen Moscow’s control over Russian-controlled southern and eastern Ukraine regions, but would also increase its economic influence over the Black Sea, where the navy is dominant.

And Russian troops are stationed outside the city of Kharkiv, creating a huge impediment to all Ukrainian efforts to gain an edge in that area.

Despite having suffered one of the deadliest wars in an attempt earlier this month, Russian forces prepared on Saturday another attempt to cross the eastern Ukrainian river, which has become a strong barrier to targets in the region, the Ukrainian military said. .

Ukrainian forces say in regularly published war assessments that Russian forces are redeploying bridge equipment near the Seversky-Donets River. The winding streets of the city cut through the heart of the region where Russian forces are fighting Ukrainian defenders, and the Moscow offensive in eastern Ukraine around the cities of Izium, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Sievierodonetsk. will be a major obstacle to

The evaluation evaluated that “the enemy did not stop the offensive in the eastern operating zone with the goal of establishing complete control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”

Ukrainian forces blew up the bridge to force the Russians to build it. Armed forces are particularly vulnerable to artillery attacks as they mobilize soldiers, armored vehicles, and equipment while attempting to cross.

In the battle for control of the Donbas region, the Russian army made several attempts to cross the pontoon of Seversky Donets, which is considered an important tactical step towards the goal of besieging the Ukrainian army in and around the city of Sievierodonetsk.

On May 11, Ukrainian artillery attacked a pedestrian crossing, destroying a bridge, burning armored vehicles on both riverbanks and killing more than 400 soldiers, Western military analysts estimate. The British Ministry of Defense issued a statement supporting the Ukrainian account, based on satellite imagery and aerial drone imagery posted online in the raid.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the war, no one expects the war to end soon, as the leaders of each country, especially Zelensky, must be able to claim some sort of victory.

“For Zelensky, there is no other way than to keep fighting and reclaiming the territories they lost,” said Andrew A. Michta, Germany-based foreign policy and defense analyst. “The moment he agrees to any compromise, he will have to bleed to lose his political credibility. It will be a long, long war as Ukraine cannot stop trading to stop fighting.”

Steven Erlanger reported in Brussels, Andrew E. Kramer Dnipro, Ukraine, Catherine Benhold in Berlin. Anton Troianovsky Reported from Istanbul.

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