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Friday, March 31, 2023

Ukraine Capital Has Quiet Night, Braces for New Assault in The Morning

The explosions and gunfire that have disrupted life around Ukraine’s capital since the invasion began appeared to subside overnight as the Kremlin’s military advances were slowed by an outgunned but determined resistance.

President Vladimir Putin dramatically escalated East-West tensions by ordering Russian nuclear forces to be placed on high alert, but the explosions and gunfire that have disrupted life since the invasion began appeared to subside around Ukraine’s capital overnight as the Kremlin’s military advances were

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s embattled leader agreed to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while Western nations promised to deliver weaponry and other supplies to the country’s defenders.

Putin issued a command on Sunday to improve the readiness of Russia’s nuclear weapons, citing “aggressive remarks” by NATO and strong financial penalties, heightening worries that the invasion of Ukraine may lead to nuclear war, whether on purpose or by accident.

A senior US defense source, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss quickly evolving military operations, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “possibly putting in play forces that, if there is a miscalculation, could make things much, much more deadly.”

Putin’s order came as Russian soldiers faced stiff resistance from Ukraine’s defenses. Despite gains across the nation, Moscow has yet to gain complete control of Ukraine’s airspace. Officials from the United States said the invasion has been more difficult and time-consuming than the Kremlin anticipated, though this might change as Moscow adjusts.

According to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of current U.S. intelligence assessments who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly, the conflict could evolve significantly if Russia receives military assistance from neighboring Belarus, which is expected to send troops into Ukraine as soon as Monday. According to the official, whether Belarus joins the battle depends on the outcome of the Ukraine-Russia talks, which are scheduled to take place in the next days.

In response to the rising pressure, Western countries said that they will tighten sanctions and purchase and supply weaponry to Ukraine, including Stinger missiles for taking down helicopters and other aircraft. According to EU foreign policy leader Josep Borrell, European countries would also equip Ukraine with fighter planes.

Meanwhile, the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced arrangements for a meeting with a Russian delegation near the Belarusian border at an unidentified site.

It wasn’t immediately apparent when the meeting would take place, or what the Kremlin hoped to get out of the negotiations on the border, or from its battle in Ukraine more broadly. Putin, according to Western sources, wants to destabilize Ukraine’s government and replace it with his own dictatorship, resurrecting Moscow’s Cold War-era power.

The rapid changes happened as sporadic violence in Kyiv was reported. Battles erupted in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, while Russian soldiers attacked important ports in the country’s south.

According to Oleksiy Arestovich, an assistant to Zelenskyy’s office, Russian soldiers had overrun Berdyansk, a 100,000-person Ukrainian city on the Azov Sea coast, by late Sunday. Russian soldiers have also advanced on Kherson, a city in Ukraine’s south, while Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov and a key Russian target, is “holding on,” according to Arestovich.

With Russian soldiers closing in on Kyiv, a metropolis of almost 3 million people, the mayor of the capital raised doubts about the evacuation of citizens. Anyone ready to protect the city has been given firearms by the authorities. Ukraine is also releasing and training people to create firebombs, as well as releasing inmates with military experience who want to fight.

In Mariupol, where Ukrainians were fighting back, a medical staff at a local hospital fought valiantly to save a 6-year-old girl dressed in unicorn pajamas who had been killed by Russian artillery.

A doctor in blue medical scrubs pumping oxygen into the girl gazed right into the Associated Press video camera documenting the event during the rescue effort.

He said fiercely, “Show this to Putin.” “This child’s eyes, and physicians sobbing.”

The girl lay lifeless on a trolley, her jacket spattered with blood, after their resuscitation efforts failed.

Faina Bystritska was threatened in Chernihiv, about 900 kilometers (560 miles) distant.

“I wish I hadn’t lived to witness this,” Bystritska, an 87-year-old World War II Jewish survivor, said. She claimed that in the city, which is around 150 kilometers (90 miles) from Kyiv, sirens blare virtually constantly.

Residents in Chernihiv have been warned not to turn on any lights “so we don’t attract their notice,” according to Bystritska, who has been staying in a corridor away from any windows to better protect herself.

“The window glass rattles continuously, and there’s a continual thunderous noise,” she explained.

Meanwhile, the EU’s senior official announced the bloc’s intentions to block its airspace to Russian planes and purchase arms for Ukraine. According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the EU would also prohibit some pro-Kremlin media sites.

The United States has increased the flow of arms to Ukraine, stating that Stinger missiles will be sent as part of a package approved by the White House on Friday. Germany intends to supply 500 Stingers as well as other military equipment.

In addition, the United Nations General Assembly, which has 193 members, has called an emergency session on Russia’s invasion for Monday.

Putin highlighted not just words by NATO members, but also the harsh financial penalties imposed by the West against Russia, including Putin himself, in ordering the nuclear alert.

“Not only are Western nations adopting unfriendly economic steps against our country, but senior officials from prominent NATO members have made harsh statements against our country,” Putin said in a televised broadcast.

Defense officials in the United States refused to clarify what their current nuclear alert level is, other than to state that the military is always ready to protect the country and its allies.

Putin is reverting to the pattern he adopted in the weeks leading up to the invasion, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, “which is to invent threats that don’t exist in order to justify additional action.”

The order’s practical implications were not immediately obvious. Russia and the United States normally have nuclear troops on the ground and in submarines that are always alert and ready to fight, but nuclear-capable bombers and other aircraft are not.

Residents in Kyiv hunkered down in their houses, underground garages, and subway stations, fearful of a full-scale Russian onslaught. Mayor Vitali Klitschko stated that food and medication were in short supply.

Klitschko stated, “Right now, the most essential question is to defend our nation.”

Olena Dudnik, 86, claimed she and her husband were practically flung from their bed by the pressure burst of a nearby explosion in downtown Kharkiv.

“We’re in a lot of pain,” she stated over the phone. “We don’t have much food in the pantry, and I’m worried that when the stores reopen, they won’t have much either.” “I simply want the shooting to stop, for people to stop being killed,” she stated.

Russia’s inability to gain complete control of Ukraine’s airspace is a surprise setback that has allowed outgunned Ukrainian forces to stifle Russian ground forces’ progress. Normally, obtaining air superiority, as defined by the military, is one of an invading force’s top aims.

Despite the fact that Russian forces are hindered by Ukrainian opposition, fuel shortages, and other logistical issues, a senior US defense official believes this will change. “We’ve made it to day four.” “The Russians will adapt and learn,” added the official.

In the midst of the chaos, the number of victims from Europe’s greatest land combat since World War II remained unknown.

According to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, 352 people have been murdered across the country, including 14 children. A total of 1,684 individuals have been injured, including 116 children, according to the report.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, did not provide estimates for Russia’s dead and injured, but claimed on Sunday that his country’s losses were “many times” lower than Ukraine’s.

Along with military aid, the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom decided to exclude some Russian banks from the SWIFT system, which allows money to be transferred between thousands of banks and other financial institutions across the world.

Since the invasion, Russia’s economy has taken a beating, with the currency plummeting and the central bank urging calm to avert bank runs.

Russia, which has amassed almost 200,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders, maintains that its attack is limited to military targets, but it has also targeted bridges, schools, and civilian areas.


Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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