Ukraine’s armed forces braced for a fresh Russian offensive on Monday as powerful explosions rocked southern and eastern towns, as the Austrian leader planned to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and call for an end of the conflict.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued his tireless campaign to generate international support and rally his compatriots, warning that the week ahead would be important and tense.
“Russia will be even more afraid. It will be afraid of losing. It will be afraid that the truth has to be recognized,” Zelensky said in a late-night video address.
“Russian troops will move to even bigger operations in the east of our state. They could use even more missiles against us, even more aerial bombs. But we are preparing for their actions. We will respond.”
Air raid sirens were heard across Ukraine on Monday morning.
“It is likely that the enemy, in order to disrupt the supply of goods to the places of hostilities, will continue to strike at transport infrastructure in Ukraine in order to destroy or disable them,” the General Staff said. Ukrainian armed forces.
Russian forces were continuing their offensive to establish full control over the southern city of Mariupol, seeking to storm a steel plant and the seaport, he added.
Russia could also carry out provocative actions in the Transdniestrian region of the Republic of Moldova in order to accuse Ukraine of aggression against a neighboring state, the general staff said, without providing evidence.
Austrian Karl Nehammer will meet Putin in Moscow
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, said infrastructure, including food stores, had been targeted by Russian “informants”, also without providing evidence. Reuters could not confirm the allegations.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said he would meet Putin in Moscow on Monday for the Russian leader’s first face-to-face meeting with a European Union counterpart since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
“We are militarily neutral, but (have) a clear position on the Russian war of aggression against #Ukraine,” Nehammer wrote of Austria. on Twitter. “This must stop! We need humanitarian corridors, a ceasefire and a full investigation into war crimes.
Russia’s invasion forced about a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, turned cities into rubble, and killed or injured thousands.
It failed to take any major cities, but Ukraine says Moscow gathered forces in the east for a major offensive and urged people to flee.
A series of powerful explosions were heard in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, and Mykolaiv near the Black Sea in the south of the country, Ukrainian media reported on Sunday.
Previously, missiles destroyed the airport in the city of Dnipro, said Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the central Dnipropetrovsk region.
The Russian Defense Ministry said high-precision missiles destroyed the headquarters of the Ukrainian Dnipro Battalion in the town of Zvonetsky.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the information.
Since Russia’s invasion, Zelensky has called on Western powers to provide more defense aid and punish Moscow with tougher sanctions, including embargoes on its energy exports.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told ABC News, “We’re going to give Ukraine the weapons it needs to push back the Russians and stop them from taking more towns and villages.”
Zelensky said he had confidence in his own armed forces but “unfortunately I am not certain that we will receive everything we need” from the United States.
“They have to supply weapons to Ukraine as if they were defending themselves and their own people,” Zelensky said in an interview that aired on CBS. 60 minutes. “They have to understand that. If they don’t step up, it will be very difficult for us to resist that pressure.”
Zelensky said earlier on Twitter that he had spoken on the phone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about additional sanctions, as well as increased defense and financial support for his country. Zelensky also discussed with Ukrainian officials kyiv’s proposals for a new EU sanctions package, his office said.
The EU on Friday banned imports of Russian coal, among other products, but has not yet hit imports of oil and gas from Russia.
Civilian deaths lead to more penalties
The growing number of civilian casualties triggered widespread international condemnation and new sanctions.
Ludmila Zabaluk, head of the department of the village of Dmytriv, north of the capital Kyiv, said dozens of civilian bodies had been found in the area.
“There were more than 50 dead. They shot them up close. There is a car where a 17-year-old child was burned, only bones remain. A woman had half of her head blown off. A little further on, a man lying near his car was burned alive.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the information.
Moscow has dismissed war crimes charges from Ukraine and Western countries. He has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in what he calls a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” his southern neighbor. Ukraine and Western nations dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.
The World Bank predicted on Sunday that the war would cause Ukraine’s economic output to collapse by 45% this year, with half of its businesses shut down, grain exports mostly halted by the Russian naval blockade and destruction making economic activity impossible in many areas.
The bank predicts that Russia’s GDP will contract by 11.2% this year due to punitive Western sanctions.