By Reuters, published by the Straits Times, plus The Daily Mail
Kyiv – Ukraine acknowledged on Friday (Apr. 29) it was taking heavy losses in Russia’s assault in the east, but said Russia’s losses were even worse.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky also praised his US counterpart Joe Biden after he called on Congress to send as much as US$33 billion (S$46 billion) of aid to help Kyiv withstand the ongoing attack.
The latest offer of help amounts to nearly 10 times the aid Washington has sent so far since the war began on Feb. 24.
Also on Friday, the body of a journalist from US-backed broadcaster Radio Liberty was found in rubble in the Ukrainian capital, killed in a Russian missile attack during a visit by the UN secretary-general.
Ukraine has acknowledged losing control of some towns and villages there since the assault began last week, but says Moscow’s gains have come at a massive cost to a Russian force already worn down from its earlier defeat near the capital.
“We have serious losses but the Russians’ losses are much much bigger…They have colossal losses,” presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.
By pledging tens of billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine, Biden has dramatically increased US involvement in the conflict.
The United States and its allies are now sending heavy weapons including artillery, with what Washington says is an aim not just to repel Russia’s attack but to weaken its armed forces so it cannot menace its neighbours again.
“We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said. “The cost of this fight – it’s not cheap – but caving to aggression is going to be more costly.”
Zelensky tweeted: “Thank you @POTUS and the American people for their leadership in supporting Ukraine in our fight against Russian aggression. We defend common values – democracy and freedom. We appreciate the help. Today it is needed more than ever!”
Russia has said the arrival of Western arms into Ukraine means it is now fighting a “proxy war” against Nato. President Vladimir Putin threatened unspecified retaliation this week, while his foreign minister warned of a threat of nuclear war.
Journalist found in rubble
Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) said the body of producer Vira Hyrych had been found on Friday morning after Thursday’s missile attack destroyed the bottom two floors of a residential building. It said Hyrych had worked for Radio Liberty since 2018.
“She was going to bed when a Russian ballistic missile hit her apartment in central Kyiv. Russia’s barbarism is incomprehensible,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said. “We call on media organisations to condemn the murder of Vira and all other innocent Ukrainians.”
Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had destroyed the production facilities of a rocket plant in Kyiv with high precision long-range missiles.
US-funded RFE/RL, which has covered the former Soviet Union since the Cold War, is one of the main remaining Russian-language sources for news outside Kremlin control, since Moscow effectively shut all independent media following its invasion.
“Kyiv is still a dangerous place and Kyiv is still the target of Russians, of course. The capital of Ukraine is the goal and they want to occupy it,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko said, supervising the cleanup in the rubble-strewn street before the body was found.
The missiles hit the capital during a visit on Thursday by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov called it “an attack on the security of the Secretary-General and on world security”.
Zelensky’s office said Russia was pounding the entire front line in the eastern Donetsk region with rockets, artillery, mortar bombs and aircraft. The Ukrainian general staff said Russia was shelling positions along the line of contact to prevent the Ukrainians from regrouping.
Britain said fighting had been particularly heavy around the cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, the main part of the Donbas that Russia is still trying to capture, with an attempted advance south from Russian-held Izium towards Sloviansk.
“Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains have been limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces,” the British defence ministry said in an update.
The bloodiest fighting and worst humanitarian catastrophe of the war have been in Mariupol, an eastern port reduced to a wasteland by two months of Russian bombardment and siege.
Ukraine says 100,000 civilians remain in the city, which is mostly occupied by Russia. Hundreds of civilians are holed up with the last remaining defenders in underground bunkers beneath a huge steel works.
Zelensky’s office said an operation was planned on Friday to get civilians out of the plant, giving no details.
In parts of Mariupol now held by Russian troops, emergency workers were gathering bodies from the streets. Residents among the blasted ruins recounted the horror they had survived.
“We were hungry, the child was crying when the Grad (multiple rocket launcher) shells were striking near the house.
“We were thinking, this is it, the end. It can’t be described,” Viktoria Nikolayeva, 54, who survived the battle with her family in a basement, told Reuters, weeping.
“It was a massacre,” said Vitaliy Kudasov, 71. “It was the scariest thing when the shells were flying overhead. Shells, rounds and all such, you couldn’t survive it. And yet we did.”
Meanwhile Warsaw has sent more than 200 T-72s – originally produced by the Soviet Union – into Ukraine in recent weeks, the country’s national radio broadcaster said today, along with mobile artillery, drones and rocket launchers as part of a $1.6bn package, The Daily Mail said.
The Russians have also adapted their tactics – abandoning precision missile strikes and rapid advances which saw them mauled around Kyiv in favour of slow advances behind walls of blanket artillery in similar tactics to WW1 trench warfare.
The move has met with mixed success. Ukraine has acknowledged losing control of some towns and villages, but has made gains elsewhere in counter-attacks.
Supplies of heavier weapons including tanks, artillery cannons, precision munitions and anti-aircraft weapons are designed to help with those attacks while ensuring the Ukrainians can destroy as much Russian equipment as possible in the process.
Top: Fire burns in a building after shelling in Kyiv, on April 28, 2022. Photo: Reuters and published by The Straits Times
First insert: Rescuers work at a site of a building damaged by a missile strike, in Kyiv, on April 28, 2022. Photo: Reuters and published by The Straits Times
Second insesrt: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to Kyiv, on April 28, 2022. Photo: Reuters and published by The Straits Times
Third insert: Residents clean up the aftermath of an airstrike in a residential neighbourhood in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, on April 28, 2022. Photo: NYTIMES and published by The Straits Times
Home Page: Soldiers and first responders at the site of a missile strike in Kyiv, on April 28, 2022. Photo: NYTIMES and published by The Straits Times