What’s happening in Ukraine today and how are countries around the world responding? Read live updates on Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
LONDON — British defence officials say the Kremlin’s decision to besiege the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol means many Russian units will have to remain in the city and can’t be redeployed to other parts of Ukraine.
In an intelligence update posted Monday morning, the U.K. Ministry of Defence says Ukraine’s defence of Mariupol has “exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness.”
The ministry says Russia has made “minor advances” as it seeks to occupy all of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, but it has failed to make a “significant breakthrough” with the offensive hampered by supply problems.
The ministry also says Russian defence officials have proposed that compensation payments to the families of service personnel should be overseen by military rather that civilian authorities. This is probably an effort to hide the “true scale of Russia’s losses” from the public, the ministry says.
NEAR THE POLISH-UKRAINIAN BORDER — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Russia is failing in its war aims and Ukraine is succeeding.
Following meetings Sunday in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, along with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Blinken told reporters in Poland on Monday that, with Russia having pulled back its troops from around Kyiv and the north of Ukraine to focus on the eastern Donbas region, “When it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding.”
In footage of the meeting later released by the Ukrainian presidency, Blinken praised the “extraordinary courage and leadership and success that you’ve had in pushing back this horrific Russian aggression.”
“We got used to seeing you on video around the world, but it’s great, it’s good to see you in person,” Blinken said with a smile.
Blinken said U.S. diplomats returning to the country likely will first re-staff the consulate in Lviv in western Ukraine before returning to Kyiv.
Austin said that “the world has been inspired” by Ukraine in the war and that America would continue its support.
NEAR THE POLISH-UKRAINIAN BORDER — The United States is giving new military assistance to Ukraine and renewing a diplomatic push in the war-ravaged nation as President Joe Biden’s secretary of state and Pentagon chief complete a secretive trip to Kyiv.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed Ukraine’s president of a more than US$300 million package of foreign military financing and a $165 million sale of ammunition.
They also said Biden would announce his pick for a U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and that American diplomats who left ahead of Russia’s invasion in February would start returning to the country this coming week.
Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskyy said he planned to meet with the U.S. officials in Kyiv on Sunday, but the Biden administration refused to confirm that or discuss any details of a possible visit.
It was the highest-level American visit to the capital since Russia invaded in late February.
Austin and Blinken announced a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries. Some $322 million is earmarked for Kyiv.
Officials say the remainder will be split among NATO members and other nations that have provided Ukraine with critical military supplies since the war with Russia began.
LVIV, Ukraine — A fire has erupted at a Russian oil depot near the border with Ukraine.
The Tass news agency reported the fire early Monday in Bryansk. The Russian report said oil storage tanks at the facility caught fire around 2 a.m. local time.
NASA satellites that track fires show a burning fire at coordinates that correspond to a Rosneft facility some 110 kilometres north of the Ukrainian border.
Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, was cited by the Ukrainian news agency Unian as saying that people who live near the burning oil depot were being evacuated.
Moscow previously has blamed Ukraine for attacks on the Russian region of Bryansk, which borders Ukraine.
Ukraine’s top security officials have denied that Kyiv was behind an earlier airstrike on an oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod, about 60 kilometres from the border.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine — A newly released video shows Ukrainian children in an underground bunker receiving Easter presents.
The video was released Sunday by the far-right Azov Battalion, which is among Ukrainian forces at the Azovstal steelworks where soldiers and civilians have been holed up under a Russian attack.
The group’s deputy commander, Sviatoslav Palamar, says the video was shot Sunday at the plant.
One toddler is seen wearing homemade diapers made of cellophane. People are hanging laundry on makeshift hangers.
One of the women in the video begs for help from world leaders and says she and others stuck under the plant are tired of the bombing and are desperate for their freedom.
“The children are constantly crying here — they want to play and live,” she adds. “Stop this aggression. I ask everyone, help please, free us!”
Another woman says there are 600 civilians sheltering under the plant, without food and water.
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