Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday the Russians are trying to procure more troops and equipment to overcome unexpectedly tough resistance as “the absolutely heroic defense of the Donbas continues.”
While waiting for the longer-range rocket launchers and training promised by the United States and U.K, the Ukrainian army kept Russian forces from making any significant advances in that eastern region over the past day, Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
Speaking at a Financial Times Global Boardroom conference earlier in the day, Zelenskyy appealed for more of the type of weapons that could counter Russia’s missile strikes. “We are inferior in terms of equipment, and therefore we are not capable of advancing,” he said. “We are going to suffer more losses. And people are my priority.”
Zelenskyy also said sanctions have failed to deter Russia’s invasion and a stalemate in the war is “not an option for us.” He rejected talk of Ukraine yielding Crimea or the Donbas as part of any peace deal and chastised Western governments that might grow impatient because of the economic impact of the war.
“They are supporting Ukraine but also checking what can be done to weaken sanctions so business doesn’t suffer,” Zelenskyy said.
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►The World Bank predicted Tuesday that the global economy will expand 2.9% this year, down from its 4.1% forecast in January and an even bigger dip from the 5.7% growth in 2021. The agency cited the war in Ukraine, the prospect of widespread food shortages and inflation as reasons for the downgrade.
►The U.S. military has begun training Ukrainian forces on the sophisticated rocket systems the Biden administration agreed last week to provide to better fend off the Russian attacks. About three weeks of training are expected to be required.
►Russia says it has opened a land route between Russia and occupied Crimea through the temporarily occupied southern oblasts of Ukraine. A land connection was a key goal of the invasion.
►Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tuesday lost an appeal contesting the decision by penitentiary officials to label him as “inclined to commit crimes of a terrorist or extremist nature.”
►The International Skating Union extended the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions until further notice, ISU Director General Fredi Schmid said Tuesday.
US officials sail away with $325M, Russian-owned superyacht
U.S. authorities took command of a $325 million, Russian-owned superyacht and sailed it out of Fiji’s Lautoka harbor Tuesday after the South Pacific nation’s Supreme Court lifted a stay that had delayed the seizure. Fiji Chief Justice Kamal Kumar ruled that the chances of defense lawyers mounting a successful appeal were “nil to very slim.” He said the 348-foot yacht Amadea “sailed into Fiji waters without any permit and most probably to evade prosecution by the United States.”
The FBI has linked the yacht – featuring a lobster tank, swimming pool and helipad – to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov. Mark Lambert, a deputy assistant secretary of State, expressed gratitude to Fiji for collaborating on the seizure.
“The world has spoken and has said that we are going to go after these assets together,” Lambert said.
Ukraine’s urgent plea for access to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system was drawing no response, likely because of Israel’s complex involvement with Russia in Syria. The Iron Dome system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets fired into Israel. Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, chastised Israel for declining a U.S. request for Germany to deliver Israeli-licensed “Spike” anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.
“We need Israeli assistance,” Korniychuk said. “I mean that we need the military-technical support, we need the Iron Dome … that will allow us to save our civilian women and children from the shelling of the Russian missiles.”
Japan is seeking to bolster its ties with European countries and will boost its military spending amid concerns about the impact of Russian aggression and the looming presence of China.
As Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force participated in NATO naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told NATO Military Committee chief Rob Bauer on Tuesday that Japan welcomes the alliance’s expanded involvement in the Indo-Pacific region. The parties agreed Tuesday to increase military cooperation.
“The security of Europe and Asia (is) closely intertwined, especially now with the international community facing serious challenges,” Kishi said.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet approved an annual policy plan that calls for a drastic strengthening of defense capabilities and spending within five years from the current level of just over 1% of gross domestic product.
The war in Ukraine is exacerbating a dire need for food created by two years of drought in the Horn of Africa, putting the lives of hundreds of millions of children at risk, UNICEF’s Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa said Tuesday.
Speaking at the U.N. office in Geneva, Rania Dagash said the loss of crops, livestock and water resources because of four failed rainy seasons over two years have increased by more than 15% in five months the number of children facing life-threatening severe acute malnutrition. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, that number adds up to more than 1.7 million children.
“If the world does not widen its gaze from the war in Ukraine and act immediately, an explosion of child deaths is about to happen in the Horn of Africa,” Dagash said.
She added that some of the countries that depend on wheat from Russia and Ukraine — like Somalia, which typically imported 92% of the grain from those nations — are receiving shipments because of Moscow’s blockade.
“The war is exacerbating spiraling global food and fuel prices,” Dagash said, “meaning many people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia can no longer afford the basic foodstuffs they need to survive.”
More than 4,200 civilians have been killed and 5,000 injured since the war began Feb. 24, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says. The agency says the actual figures are probably considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been ongoing has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.
The confirmed deaths include 1,617 men, 1,064 women, 100 girls and 105 boys, as well as 67 children and 1,300 adults whose gender is yet unknown, the agency said.
Most of the civilian casualties were caused by “explosive weapons with a wide impact area,” including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes, the agency said.
A “significant” part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the Donbas are now occupied by Russian troops, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday. Shoigu also said the residential areas of Sievierodonetsk have been seized, and now the army is working to take control of the industrial zone and the surrounding settlements.
The head of the military-civilian administration of Sievierodonetsk, Alexander Stryuk, said fierce street battles are raging. Ukraine forces face heavy artillery fire but are doing their best to defend the city, he said. Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk are the last major cities in Luhansk to avoid complete Russian occupation.
“In general, 97% of the territory of the Luhansk People’s Republic has been liberated to date,” Shoigu said.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, assured his countrymen Tuesday that Kyiv will retake all land currently under Russian control and urged Ukrainians to be patient. Podolyak said Ukraine must make sure that “every village we temporarily cede and then take back costs Russians a lot of blood” and drains Russia’s military resources. Podolyak stressed that Ukraine is still waiting for more weapons from its allies.
“Don’t let the news that we’ve ceded something scare you,” Podolyak said in a short video address Tuesday. “It is clear that tactical maneuvers are ongoing. We cede something, we take something back.”
Kyiv’s cultural centers are slowly reopening. The Theater on Podil reopened to sold-out crowds over the weekend, and movie theaters and the National Opera also reopened in recent weeks. The National Museum of History of Ukraine is also open, and its new exhibit features the Russian invasion of the Kyiv region. Visitors can see equipment and personal belongings left by the Russian soldiers who retreated, Russian propaganda instructions and materials, remnants of ammunition and photographs taken by museum staff in the destroyed and looted surrounding towns and villages.
“Our children must also understand what time they live in, what war is,” said Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko. “But at the same time, understand that life goes on. And cultural life is proof of that.”
Ukraine has added another general to the list of high-ranking Russian officers it has killed in the war. Russian state media and the Ukraine military confirmed Monday the death of Maj. Gen. Roman Kutuzov during fighting in the Donbas region, the BBC reported. The Russian defense ministry has not commented.
Reporter Alexander Sladkov of state-owned Rossiya 1 said on the Telegram social media app that Kutuzov had been commanding troops from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “The general had led soldiers into attack, as if there are not enough colonels,” Sladkov wrote.
Ukraine has targeted Russia’s top officers and says it has killed 12, although some of those claims have been disputed. Western intelligence officials have confirmed the death of at least seven senior commanders, the BBC said.
Contributing: The Associated Press