By Reuters, published by The Straits Times, plus BBC
Washington – The United States is committed to providing Ukraine with “the weapons it needs” to defend itself against Russia, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday (Apr. 10) as Ukraine seeks more military aid from the West.
Sullivan said the Biden administration will send more weapons to Ukraine to prevent Russia from seizing more territory and targeting civilians, attacks that Washington has labelled war crimes.
“We’re going to get Ukraine the weapons it needs to beat back the Russians to stop them from taking more cities and towns where they commit these crimes,” Sullivan said on ABC News’ “This Week”.
Moscow has rejected accusations of war crimes by Ukraine and Western countries.
Speaking later on NBC News’ “Meet the Press”, Sullivan said the US was “working around the clock to deliver our own weapons… and organising and coordinating the delivery of weapons from many other countries”.
The US has sent US$1.7 billion (S$2.32 billion) in military assistance to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, the White House said last week.
Weapons shipments have included defensive anti-aircraft Stinger and anti-tank Javelin missiles, as well as ammunition and body armour.
But US and European leaders are being pressed by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to provide heavier arms and equipment to engage Russia in the eastern region of the country, where Russia is expected to intensify its military efforts.
In excerpts of an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” to air later on Sunday, Zelensky expressed scepticism that the United States would deliver the weapons he said are needed.
Whether Ukraine can beat back the Russian incursion “depends on how fast we will be helped by the United States. To be honest, whether we will be able to survive depends on this,” Zelensky said.
“I have 100 percent confidence in our people and in our armed forces, but unfortunately I don’t have the confidence that we will be receiving everything we need.”
On Friday, Ukrainian officials said more than 50 people were killed in a missile strike on a train station in the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, where thousands of people had gathered to evacuate.
Russia’s invasion has forced around a quarter of the population of 44 million to leave their homes, turned cities into rubble and killed or injured thousands.
Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its southern neighbour. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.
Russia on Saturday appointed a new general to lead its forces in Ukraine, General Aleksandr Dvornikov, who had significant military experience in Syria.
With that background, Sullivan said he expects Gen Dvornikov to authorise more brutality against the Ukrainian civilian population.
Republican US Representative Liz Cheney, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Nation”, urged the Biden administration to provide Ukraine both offensive weapons such as tanks and planes, and defensive systems like anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
“I think we need to do everything that Zelensky says he needs at this point, given the just unbelievable battle that they have put up,” she said.
A CBS News poll released on Sunday showed widespread support among Americans for sending more weapons to Ukraine.
According to the poll, which was conducted last week as news of Russian attacks on civilians unfolded, 72 per cent of those surveyed favour sending more weapons, while 78 percent support economic sanctions on Russia.
‘Direct, open and tough’ meeting between Austrian and Russian leaders
In a statement after the meeting – which reportedly lasted about 90 minutes – Nehammer says it has not been a friendly visit, and the aim has been to leave no stone unturned in seeking an end to the conflict, or at least humanitarian progress for civilians in Ukraine.
He adds his most important message to Putin has been that the war must end because during a war there are only losers.
While Austria has maintained closer ties with Russia than most of the EU historically, it has expressed its solidarity with Ukraine since Russia invaded, and has denounced Russia’s alleged war crimes.
No Russian ceasefire ahead of talks – Lavrov
But in an interview for the Rossiya-24 news channel, he says he saw no reason why the talks shouldn’t go ahead.
“The President [Vladimir Putin] has stressed on more than one occasion that we prefer talks,” he says, quoted by Tass.
Defending Russia’s invasion, Lavrov says it has wider implications beyond Ukraine itself.
“Our special military operation is designed to put an end to the reckless expansion of the US’s aim for complete domination… in the international arena,” he says.
Top: Ukrainian servicemen take up positions as they prepare to defend Kyiv, on Feb 26, 2022. Photo: EPA-EFE and published by The Straits Times
First insert: A reservist of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces practising anti-tank combat at a training ground near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Dec 11, 2021. Photo: Reuters and published by The Straits Times
Second insert: Emergency workers remove part of a Russian Smerch rocket from a field in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on April 6, 2022. Photo: NYTIMES and published by The Straits Times
Third insert: Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer. Photo: EPA/Dragan Tatic and published by BBC
Fourth insert: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov . Photo: EPA and published by BBC
Home Page: Allegations of civilian killings in Bucha caused global outrage. Photo EPA and published by BBC