Zelenskyy visits Kherson; European allies promise more artillery
The Washington Post March 24, 2023
More than 50 villages in Kherson have been "completely destroyed" by Russia, with more than 90% of buildings in some locations ruined, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, after a visit to the embattled southern region. "But even in such villages, people return, and this is proof that life still prevails," he added in his nightly address Thursday. Zelenskyy has been touring Ukraine's front line regions and visited Bakhmut a day earlier.
European Union leaders promised to jointly deliver 1 million rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine in the next year. They said at a leaders' summit that they would also provide missiles upon Kyiv's request, without specifying what type, adding that E.U. member states have made available about $73 billion to Ukraine since the war began. Member state Slovakia, meanwhile, has delivered four of the 13 MiG-29 fighter jets it has pledged to Ukraine, its defense minister said.
Here's the latest on the war and its impact across the globe
• President Biden is expected to discuss defense spending and the war in Ukraine with Canadian President Justin Trudeau during meetings in Ottawa on Friday, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. Canada, a NATO member, has committed around $730 million in military assistance to Ukraine, its government says.
• Russia will not partake in "Earth Hour" this year, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday. The annual climate event sees cities switch off nonessential lights for one hour on Saturday evening and encourages people to take positive climate steps. It's organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a nonprofit, which Moscow this month designated a "foreign agent." The Kremlin did not provide any justification for the move, Reuters reported, but critics say the "foreign agent" designation is an attempt to crush dissent.
• Ukraine's victory over Russia could occur "this year," Zelenskyy told the European Council by video-link Thursday, provided there are "no delays or stagnation" in defense cooperation. He added that delays in the supply of weapons including long-range missiles were hampering Ukrainian troops on the battlefield.
• The International Criminal Court signed an agreement to establish a country office in Ukraine, a week after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of deporting Ukrainian children. Zelenskyy said the move would allow "international justice to be even more active" in investigating Russia on Ukrainian soil. Russia, like the United States, does not accept the ICC's jurisdiction.
• The Committee to Protect Journalists warned Ukrainian officials not to limit press access to front lines. In a statement, the New York based nonprofit said recent regulations issued by Ukrainian operational commands preventing media from accessing "red zones," deemed most dangerous battlefronts, could "stifle journalists' ability to do their jobs" and hinder crucial wartime reporting.
• The World Athletic Council reinstated the Russian athletic federation after a seven-year suspension due to doping violations, but said Friday that Russian athletes are still excluded from competition due to the invasion of Ukraine. The decision to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes as well as support personnel and officials from competitive events was made in March 2022.
• The E.U. wants to help return some 16,200 Ukrainian children who were "abducted" to Russia, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday, adding that about 300 children had been returned so far. The E.U. hopes to "pull together international pressure to take all possible measures to establish the whereabouts of these children," she added. The U.S. has also accused Russia of deporting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia and forcibly separating children from their families.
• Arresting Putin on a visit abroad would amount to declaring a "war against Russia," Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian Security Council deputy chairman, said Thursday, according to state news agency Tass. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this week that European countries should detain and hand Putin over to the ICC if he visits. Germany's federal minister of justice said it would do so, while Hungary would not, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said Thursday.
• Spain will deliver six German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine next week, its defense minister, Margarita Robles, said. Madrid has promised the delivery of 10 such tanks in total. Next week, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will also make a state visit to China, where he says he will discuss China's position "for peace in Ukraine, and transmit the message that the Ukrainians will be the ones who establish the conditions for peace." Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia earlier this week and has been touting a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine that has been criticized for lack of detail on key issues.
• Russia is sending tanks from the 1940s to the front line, signaling a likely shortage of armor for troops fighting in Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. According to photographs obtained by the Georgia-based Conflict Intelligence Team, Stalin-era T-54 and T-55 tanks were spotted aboard a train heading west, though the open-source researchers could not confirm they would be sent for use in combat.