Zaporizhia, Ukraine – Ukrainian civilians evacuated from the devastated city of Mariupol carried with them new tales of survival and terror on Monday as Western nations worked to turn their ever-growing promises of aid into action, preparing billions of dollars in military and economic aid, an oil embargo and other steps that weren’t It is conceivable.
Despite the early morning bombardment, stop evacuationunder the supervision of the Red Cross and the United Nations, was seen as the best and perhaps the last hope of hundreds of civilians trapped for weeks in bunkers under the rubble of the Azovstal steel mill, and an unknown number scattered around the mostly deserted ruins of the city.
Those trapped in Mariupol outside the steel mill described a fragile existence, subsisting on Russian rations cooked outside over wood fires amid daily shelling that left bodies strewn among the rubble.
Psychologist Yelena Gebert, who arrived in Ukraine-controlled territory with her teenage son on Monday, described “desperation and despair” in Mariupol, and said residents “began talking about suicide because they are stuck in this situation.”
Western officials say heavy fighting in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions has resulted in few gains for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces. But the Russians continued to fire rockets and missiles at Ukrainian military sites, cities, towns, and infrastructure along a 300-mile front, including bombing. Azovstal Factorywhere the last remaining Ukrainian fighters gather in Mariupol.
Ukraine said on Monday it had used Turkish-made drones Two Russian patrol ships destroyed Off the Black Sea port of Odessa, just before Russian missiles hit the city, causing an unknown number of casualties and damaging a religious building.
The US State Department said Russia’s war objectives now include the annexation of Donetsk and Luhansk – which were partly controlled before the February 24 invasion by Russian-backed separatists – as soon as mid-May, and possibly the southern Kherson region as well.
Michael Carpenter, US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, tells reporters at a State Department briefing in Washington.
As the war dragged on and evidence of atrocities mounted, the West’s appetite for vengeance that could have been dismissed a few months earlier has grown. The US Senate is preparing to take up President Biden’s $33 billion aid package for Ukraine, including a significant increase in heavy weapons, and the European Union is expected this week to impose a ban on Russian oil, an important step for the bloc whose members have long been dependent on energy. Russian.
a house Spokesperson Nancy PelosiDays after becoming the highest-ranking US official to visit Kyiv since the war began, he met in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday, in an effort to bolster Washington’s partnership with a key NATO ally that has absorbed millions of Ukrainian refugees and helped direct weapons to the battlefield.
Ms. Pelosi called for “the strongest possible military response, the strongest sanctions” to punish Russia for the invasion, despite Moscow’s threats of retaliation from the West. “They actually carried out their threat that killed children, families, civilians and the rest,” she said.
More than two months after the invasion, Russia is struggling to seize and hold territory, according to a senior Pentagon official who briefed reporters on the background to discuss the intelligence. The official described the latest Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, the area known as Donbass, as “extremely cautious, very lukewarm” and, in some cases, “anaemic”.
“We’re seeing little progress at best,” the official said on Monday, citing growing Russian advances in towns and villages. “They will move, declare victory, and then withdraw their forces, just to let the Ukrainians take it.”
Britain’s Defense Intelligence Agency said that of the 120 battalion tactical groups that Russia used during the war – nearly 65 per cent of its total ground combat force – more than a quarter likely “have rendered combat ineffective”.
Some of Russia’s most elite units, including the Airborne Forces, “suffered the highest levels of attrition,” British evaluation said“It may take years for Russia to reconfigure these forces,” he added.
With fighting raging in eastern and southern Ukraine, Moscow on Monday faced increased diplomatic backlash after Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei V. Lavrov, said Jews were. “The greatest anti-Semitism”.
Lavrov made the remarks on Sunday to an Italian television journalist who asked him why Russia claimed this Ukraine “the Immaculate” When its chief, Volodymyr Zelensky, was a Jew and members of his family were murdered in the Holocaust.
Mr. Lavrov replied that he believed Hitler himself had Jewish roots, a claim that historians have rejected, adding: “For a long time we have heard wise Jews say that the greatest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to Israel to clarify Lavrov’s comments, while Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid demanded an apology. “The aim of such lies is to accuse the Jews themselves of committing the most heinous crimes in history, committed against them,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said of Mr. Lavrov’s remarks.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader and the highest elected Jewish official in the United States, called Lavrov’s comments “disgusting.”
Those who fled Mariupol and reached the southern city of Zaporizhia managed to survive in a Russian-occupied city crushed by intense bombing, where Ukrainian officials say more than 20,000 civilians have been killed. About 20 civilians sheltering under the Azovstal mill left the city on Saturday, about 100 did so on Sunday, and an unknown number followed on Monday.
Every morning around 6 a.m., Gibert said, residents line up outside the factory to get rations handed out by Russian soldiers. First, they had to listen to the Russian national anthem and then the anthem of the separatist Ukrainian region Known as the Donetsk People’s RepublicShe said.
Gibbert said a number was written on the hand of every inhabitant there, and then they waited, sometimes all day, to receive packets of food. Inside a typical ration box were pasta, rice, oatmeal, canned meat, sweet and condensed milk, sugar and butter. It was supposed to last a month, but it wasn’t always that way — especially when shared with a teenage boy, Ms. Gibbert said.
Gebert said she and her son were among the lucky ones in a city where many apartment buildings were destroyed and the rest often lacked electricity, heating or running water.
“Our apartment is still partially intact,” she said. “On the one hand, we all have our windows.”
Anastasia Dembetskaya, 35, who arrived in Zaporozhye with her two children and a dog, said the decrease in fighting in Mariupol over the past few weeks has allowed the return of spotty phone service and the opening of small markets selling food from Russia and Russia-controlled Ukraine. Earth at stratospheric prices.
“They have at least begun to remove the trash, and that is a good thing,” Ms Dembetskaya said. “The dead bodies, the trash, the wires that were lying everywhere.”
Ksenia Safonova, who also arrived in Zaporizhia, said that she and her parents had wanted to leave Mariupol for weeks, but were constrained by missile fire.
“When we tried to leave,” she said, “the intense bombardment began.” “Everything was exploding. Planes were flying overhead and it was very scary to leave.”
When food became scarce, she said, her family relied on rations provided by Russian troops. She pulled out a can of corned beef she said was part of a Russian humanitarian aid package. Its expiration date was January 31, about a month before the invasion began.
Ms. Safonova and her family were finally able to leave Mariupol on April 26 in a minibus with six other people. She said that Russian soldiers insulted her and her family at checkpoints on the way to Zaporizhia, warning that Ukrainian forces would not welcome them and might bomb them when they arrived.
She said that soldiers once tried to trick them into revealing their loyalty to Ukraine.
“At one of the checkpoints they shouted ‘Glory to Ukraine’ to see if we were going to shout, ‘Glory to the heroes,’ although, of course, we knew it would end badly,” she said, referring to the patriotic salute among Ukrainians. It was widely spread during the war.
“We still know the truth is on our side,” she said.
Michael Schwartz Reported from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, and Michael Levinson from New York. Contribute to reporting Lara Jax And Eric Schmidt from Washington Mira Novick from Jerusalem Mark Santora From Krakow, Poland, Monica Bronczuk from Brussels and Matthew Mbok Big from London.