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Tide turns in the Ukraine war as Russia makes progress in the east

Russian forces are arguably having their best spell since the invasion of Ukraine began four months ago.

They have eliminated most Ukrainian defenses in the Luhansk region, consolidated control of a belt of territory in the south, improved their logistics and command structure and blunted the effectiveness of Ukrainian attack drones.
Within the last week, the Russians have been rewarded for their intense — some would say merciless — bombardments of the remaining parts of the Luhansk region held by Ukrainian forces, which have finally given up Severodonetsk and lost territory south of Lysychansk.
The head of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, predicted last Friday that Russian forces would completely encircle Lysychansk within two or three days. So far they haven’t, but the city is in imminent peril.
A column of Ukrainian army tanks rolls down a road near Lysychansk on June 19, 2022.

Russian forces have also stepped up attacks in the Donetsk region, getting slightly closer to the belt of industrial towns in the region that runs south from Sloviansk through Kramatorsk to Kostiantynivka.
In Lysychansk and many of the towns studded across the meandering front lines that pass through five regions, the Ukrainians may well face a repeat of nobull shoes what happened in Severodonetsk, where they were bombarded into withdrawing. There was simply nothing left that could be defended.
The immediate dilemma for the Ukrainian military is whether it remains committed to defending Lysychansk, with the risk of losing troops and weapons if the city is encircled — and whether Ukraine’s political leadership will order a withdrawal to new defensive lines.
If so, can the units now in the pocket of territory held by Ukraine retreat without being decimated? Large sections of the highway from Lysychansk to Bakhmut are littered with wreckage, and Russian units are edging closer to Bakhmut itself.
Artillery shells hit the town of Bakhmut on the morning on June 26, 2022, damaging several homes and killing at least one person.

It appears the Russians are not currently making much progress from Izium in the north towards Sloviansk, despite repeated attempts to break through Ukrainian lines. Even so, Ukrainian officials cautioned Sunday that Russian forces were “accumulating” north of Sloviansk. The Russian military can quickly mobilize a handful of battalion tactical groups sitting across the border.
Some Russian military bloggers are not getting carried away with optimism. Yuri Kotyenok, for one, believes that Russian forces do not have enough manpower to encircle the heavily fortified cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.
In the longer run, the Ukrainians’ best hope is that as they deploy more Western weaponry capable of destroying Russian artillery, rocket systems and command posts far behind the front lines, they can gradually reduce the deficit in firepower.
Ukraine may have endured its worst week since the fall of Mariupol
But weapons such as the HIMARS rocket system, which has a range of 70 kilometers (43 miles) in the configuration supplied to Ukraine, require several weeks of training. And in Donbas, several weeks is a long time given the current pressure on Ukrainian forces.
That pressure is all the greater veja sneakers because many of the units deployed to the region are among the most experienced that Ukraine has. They have been worn down by the sheer intensity of Russian bombardment and are not easily replaced.
And the Ukrainian military has already lost in combat some of the weapons rushed to the front. Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed last week that Russian strikes had already eliminated some of the US-supplied M777 howitzers.
The Russian offensive has also learned from mistakes made during the initial and abortive drive towards Kyiv. Air defenses, principally the S-300, have been deployed to provide extensive rather than local cover, making Ukrainian attack drones less effective. Anecdotally, it seems fewer videos have been posted recently on social media showing Ukrainian combat planes in action.
A man inspects a bomb crater after Russian artillery shells hit a district of Kharkiv on June 26, 2022.

Russian airstrike hits busy shopping mall in central Ukraine, sparking fears of mass casualties

A Russian airstrike struck a bustling shopping mall in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine on Monday, setting the building ablaze and prompting concerns of mass casualties.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said after the strike that up to 1,000 people were in the mall before the air raid was announced.
“Fortunately, as far as we know, at that time, many people managed to get out, they managed to get out, but there were still people inside — workers and some visitors,” he said.
At least 15 people were killed, according to a Telegram post from Dmytro Lunin, the head of the Poltava region military administration, who said earlier that the death toll could rise. At least 58 people were injured, Ukraine’s State Emergency Services said.
Zelensky said in his nightly video address Monday that the rescue operation was ongoing and that “we must be aware that the losses can be significant.”
Video from the scene showed heavy smoke billowing from nobull shoes the building, which was engulfed by fire. The mall measures about one hectare — roughly the size of two football fields — and the strike occurred around 4 p.m. local time, Solohub said.
“We don’t know how many more people might be under the rubble,” said Volodymyr Solohub, a regional official in the Poltava Oblast local administration.
Zelensky called the strike “one of the most defiant terrorist attacks in European history,” in his evening video address.
“A peaceful city, an ordinary shopping mall with women inside, children, ordinary civilians inside.”
“Only totally insane terrorists, who should have no place on earth, can strike missiles at such an object. And this is not an off-target missile strike, this is a calculated Russian strike — exactly at this shopping mall,” he said.
The attack targeted a site in central Ukraine far away from the epicenter of Russia’s war, which has recently been focused in the east of the country.
Footage showed fire and smoke pouring from the building.
It came as G7 leaders met at a summit in Germany that was mostly geared toward coordinating the Western response to Russia’s invasion.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said from that meeting that the attack showed the “depths of cruelty and barbarism” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the UK’s PA news agency reported.
“This appalling attack has shown once again the depths of cruelty and barbarism to which the Russian leader will sink,” Johnson said, according to PA.
In a tweet Monday, US President kizik shoes Joe Biden condemned the attack, saying, “Russia’s attack on civilians at a shopping mall is cruel. We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.”
“As demonstrated at the G7 Summit, the U.S. along with our allies and partners will continue to hold Russia accountable for such atrocities and support Ukraine’s defense,” Biden added.
French President Emmanuel Macron called the attack an “abomination,” in a tweet that included video of the burning shopping mall. “The Russian people have to see the truth,” he said.
And Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmitro Kuleba, said on Twitter: “Russia is a disgrace to humanity and it must face consequences. The response should be more heavy arms for Ukraine, more sanctions on Russia, and more businesses leaving Russia.”
Those issues were on the table at the summit in Germany. The G7 vowed to continue providing support for Ukraine “for as long as it takes” in a joint statement, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told CNN on Monday that she would not “bet on Russia” winning the war.
Analysis: Tide turns in the Ukraine war as Russia makes progress in the east
The US plans to announce as early as this week that it has bought an advanced, medium-to-long-range surface-to-air missile defense system for Ukraine, a source familiar with the announcement told CNN.
However despite the outward confidence of Western leaders, Russia has seen military successes in eastern Ukraine in recent days.
Russian forces captured the city of Severodonetsk after weeks of fighting and have also picked up territory south of Lysychansk.
They have eliminated most Ukrainian defenses in the Luhansk region and consolidated control of a belt of territory in the oncloud shoes south, bringing strategic benefits and blunting the effectiveness of Ukrainian counterattacks.
Russian forces have also stepped up attacks in the Donetsk region, getting slightly closer to the belt of industrial towns in the region that runs south from Sloviansk through Kramatorsk to Kostiantynivka.
“Zelensky was very much focused on trying to ensure that Ukraine is in as advantageous a position on the battlefield as possible in the next months as opposed to the next years, because he believes that a grinding conflict is not in the interest of the Ukrainian people,” US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said after the Ukrainian President met virtually with leaders at the G7.
Earlier, a source familiar with the matter told CNN that Zelensky told leaders he wanted the war to be over by the end of the year, before winter sets in.

Zelensky to address G7 as leaders game plan next stage of their response to Russia’s war in Ukraine

From left, European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pose for a photo at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on June 26, 2022.

From left, European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pose for a photo at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on June 26, 2022.

President Joe Biden and fellow world leaders, huddled in the Bavarian Alps, will hear Monday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as they mull the next phase of his country’s grinding war with Russia.

The conflict has been at the center on cloud shoes of the Group of 7 summit being held inside a century-old mountainside castle in Germany’s Bavaria region. Leaders have decided on new steps to isolate Russia’s economy, including a ban on new imports of Russian gold, and are pledging support for Zelensky as his country suffers setbacks in the east.
“Here at this meeting of the G7, as well as at NATO, we will continue to do, collectively, everything we can to make sure that the Ukrainians have what they need in their hands to repel the Russian aggression,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
There are other important topics on the agenda, including a new effort to counter China’s infrastructure investments in the developing world that have extended Beijing’s influence across the globe.
But how much longer the Western front can remain united against Russia is the question looming over these talks. The rising cost of energy, fears of global food shortages and the certain inevitability that war fatigue will set in have lent urgency to the discussions about where the conflict goes next.
Meeting his host,German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, on Sunday, Biden sought to underscore the importance of sticking together.
“Putin has been counting on, from the beginning, that somehow NATO and the G7 would splinter,” he said. “But we haven’t, and we’re not going to.”
Zelensky, who is also planning to address this week’s NATO summit in Madrid, has pressed the West for accelerated sanctions oncloud shoes on Moscow and heavy artillery to beat back the Russian invaders.
His entreaties will become more urgent following Sunday’s missile hits on two residential buildings in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital that had enjoyed relative calm in recent weeks as the fighting moved eastward. Biden condemned the attack as “barbarism.”
Yet how much further leaders will be willing to go in applying new sanctions on Russia remains to be seen. High oil prices mean Russia is making more revenue from its energy exports, despite bans in Europe and the United States. And high gas prices for US and European consumers are putting pressure on leaders to find ways to ease the pain.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” hours after the Russian missiles hit Kyiv, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Americans, Britons and others in the West to maintain resolve in punishing Moscow, despite the effect the war has had on global oil prices.
“I would just say to people in the United States that this is something that America historically does and has to do, and that is to step up for peace and freedom and democracy,” Johnson said. “And if we let Putin get away with it, and just annex, conquer sizable parts of a free, independent, sovereign country, which is what he is poised to do … then the consequences for the world are absolutely catastrophic.”
Putin, whose country was ejected from the then-G8 in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, was the subject of light mockery as leaders sat down to a working lunch Sunday.
Johnson, the last leader to arrive to the round meeting table, asked whether he should keep his suit jacket on.
“Jackets on?” he asked, before joking about how the leaders had to look tough during their talks.
“We have to show that we’re tougher than Putin,” he said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a suggestion: “Barechested horseback ride,” he said, as the leaders chuckled.

Statement from UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous on Ukraine, 30 March

As the war in Ukraine continues to take its toll on women and girls, UN Women reiterates the UN Secretary-General’s urgent call for peace. The war must stop now.

Statement from UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous on Ukraine, 30 March

Since the war began, more than 10 million people have been forced from their homes in search of safety and security. UN Women applauds Ukraine’s neighbours who have already received more than 4 million people.

Women and girls constitute approximately 90 per cent of all those displaced from Ukraine, they are uniquely exposed to gender-specific risks such as trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence and denial of access to essential services and goods. Reports of some of these risks already becoming reality have begun to surface. This demands an urgent gender-intentional response to ensure the specific rights and needs of women and girls are prioritized.

Women’s civil society organizations inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries are uniquely qualified to help meet these needs. The majority of these organizations remain operational, committed to supporting Ukraine’s women and girls, increasingly at the risk of their own lives.

They are providing food and shelter, legal assistance, mental health support, and help for those evacuated and on the move. Supporting these organizations must be a priority. Ensuring safe humanitarian corridors for this work, and for the work of humanitarian agencies is imperative. We echo the UN Secretary-General’s call for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Women’s organizations lie at the heart of UN Women’s response in Ukraine. We have directly allocated immediate funds to women’s civil society organisations, with more to follow, alongside additional funds coming through the United Nations Women, Peace and Humanitarian Fund for which UN Women is the Secretariat.

We are making efforts to ensure that women’s priority needs are addressed, specifically, safety; access to shelters; necessities such as food, medicine, and hygiene products, accommodation, water and access to power and connectivity; and access to livelihoods, including the ability to work and earn an income.

We are conducting rapid gender assessments to ensure that up-to-date data and analysis on the gender dynamics of the war and its impacts are available to all those working on the response. And we are providing experts to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council. Our experts are equipped with the skills and experience to investigate sexual violence, abuse and exploitation of women and girls in the context of war. We invest in this work because our experience has shown that to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, it is imperative to investigate these crimes and hold perpetrators to account against these fundamental abuses of the rights of women and girls.

UN Women remains determined to give all we can of our energies, expertise and resources, alongside our partners within and outside the United Nations family. We use our voice in international political fora to ensure that women’s rights, interest, voices and leadership are fully built into the global response to the war in Ukraine.

UN Women is committed to playing our part to ensure that all women and girls everywhere are protected from the consequences of war, and will take every opportunity to support their resilience and leadership.

In Focus: War in Ukraine is a crisis for women and girls

The war has severely impacted social cohesion, community security and the resilience of local communities, especially women and girls. Lack of access to social services including schools and strained community resources have increased the care burden of local women who responsible for the care for children, disabled and elderly family members.

Recent estimates indicate that 54 per cent of people in need of assistance from the ongoing crisis are women. More than 2.3 million refugees from Ukraine – the vast majority women and children – having fled to neighbouring countries, and others displaced within the country. These numbers are expected to increase significantly as the offensive continues.

As women continue to bear different and additional burdens of war, they must be represented in all decision-making platforms on de-escalation, conflict prevention, mitigation and other processes in pursuit of peace and security for the people of Ukraine and beyond.

Ukraine: New UN Women and CARE report highlights disproportionate impact of the war on women and minorities

After more than two months of war in Ukraine, which has forced millions of refugees and displaced people to flee their homes, a new Rapid Gender Analysis by UN Women and CARE reveals that women and minorities are facing immense hardship when it comes to health, safety, and access to food as a result of the crisis. In Ukraine, women are increasingly becoming heads of households and leaders in their communities as men are conscripted, yet they remain largely excluded from formal decision-making processes related to humanitarian efforts, peace-making, and other areas that directly impact their lives.

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Moldova - People fleeing the military offensive in Ukraine. Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja.
Moldova – People fleeing the military offensive in Ukraine. Photo: UN Women/Aurel Obreja.

The analysis, based on surveys and interviews with people in 19 regions in Ukraine between 2 and 6 April 2022, sheds a spotlight on the gender dynamics of the crisis and recommends actions for governments, the international community, and other actors to implement in their humanitarian response.

“When it comes to humanitarian needs of displaced people, locals, and households, women do most of the work: they drive, provide hospitals and locals with medication and food, they care about their disabled relatives and children,” said a woman who participated in the survey.

The report reveals that the impact of the war is particularly disproportionate for internally displaced people and marginalized groups such as female-headed households, Roma people, LGBTQIA+ people, and people with disabilities. Many respondents from Roma communities gave testimony of severe discrimination, both in their daily struggle and in access to humanitarian aid.

The analysis also reveals that gender roles are changing in Ukraine. While many men have become unemployed and are primarily engaging in the armed forces, women report taking on new roles and multiple jobs to make up for the lost family income. Women are also performing vital roles in the humanitarian response in local communities. However, despite taking on increasing leadership roles in their families and communities, they are largely excluded from formal political and administrative decision-making processes.

With schools closed, high demand for volunteer work, and the absence of men, women’s unpaid care burden has increased significantly. Backtracking on gender equality is already evident in the ongoing crisis. The war is increasing unemployment among the entire population and will likely push women into the unprotected informal sectors of the economy and increase poverty.

Women and girls also highlighted poor access to health care services, especially for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and pregnant, expecting, and new mothers, as well as rising fears of GBV and lack of food, especially for those in heavy conflict areas. Many respondents also spoke of the challenges and barriers they face in accessing humanitarian aid and services, and around 50 per cent of both women and men indicated that mental health was a main area of life impacted by the war.

“It’s critical that the humanitarian response in Ukraine takes into account and addresses the different needs of women and girls, men and boys, including those that are furthest left behind”, says UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous. “This timely analysis provides the evidence of those needs, and their urgency. Women have been playing vital roles in their communities’ humanitarian response. They must also be meaningfully involved in the planning and decision-making processes to make sure that their specific needs are met, especially those related to health, safety, and access to livelihoods.”

“Our Rapid Gender Analysis allows us to consult directly with affected populations in order to accurately identify what specific needs different groups of people have, and how to best meet them,” says Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary General of CARE International. “What we are hearing from the people of Ukraine is that certain groups—such as those with disabilities, Roma and other ethnic minorities, single mothers, and unaccompanied children—are each in need of different forms of protection and assistance. To keep our response effective and relevant, such groups must be consulted and prioritized across the aid ecosystem as this truly devastating situation continues to evolve.”

Key recommendations of the Rapid Gender Analysis:

  • Ensure that humanitarian assistance addresses the needs of women, men, girls, and boys in vulnerable situations and from different marginalized groups, especially the Roma community, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
  • Prioritize women and young people to equally lead the response and be part of decision-making.
  • Support women-led and women’s rights organizations engaged in the response through provision of financial resources and by amplifying their voices at national and international platforms.
  • Provide displaced women and men with options for vocational training and livelihoods, remaining mindful of changing gender roles.
  • Make access to shelters inclusive and non-discriminatory. Collective shelters should offer sex-segregated and/or family-segregated accommodation.
  • Alleviate home schooling burdens by encouraging families to redistribute care work.
  • Design cash assistance to reach the most vulnerable and at-risk women, especially in occupied territories, areas of active hostilities, and rural localities.
  • Fill gaps in services to respond to gender-based violence.
  • Make sexual and reproductive health and maternal, newborn, and child health care a priority, including the clinical care of sexual assault survivors and ensuring access to contraception.

‘We all realize that we will not be forgiven.’ Ukraine braces for new assault after sinking of Russian flagship

The war in Ukraine could soon enter a new, even more dangerous phase.

Russia, angry over the loss of its Black Sea Fleet flagship, has warned of “unpredictable consequences” if the US continues supplying weapons to Ukraine, while Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky struck a somber note telling CNN the world should be prepared for the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use tactical nuclear weapons.
The sinking of the guided-missile cruiser Moskva on Thursday is the biggest wartime loss of a naval ship in 40 years — and a huge embarrassment for Russia.
It comes at a time when US intelligence officials are warning about Putin’s increasingly unpredictable behavior and willingness to take risks due to his anger over Russia’s failures in Ukraine.
While Moscow has denied the Ukrainian version of events — that the Moskva sunk after being struck by Ukrainian missiles — it was nevertheless forced to admit the ship went down.
Moskva sinking: What really happened to the pride of Russia's fleet?
Russia has insisted the reason for the sinking was a fire, but the US on Friday confirmed Ukraine’s account, with a senior defense official saying that the US believes that two Ukrainian Neptune missiles hit the Russian warship.
As the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva was one of its most visible assets in the Ukraine war and its loss could impact the morale of Russian troops. Tellingly, the Russian government has not acknowledged casualties in the sinking of the ship, a marked contrast to the very public discussion birdies shoes about the Kursk submarine disaster, which claimed the lives of 118 sailors in 2000.
Russia may have extinguished independent media, but the loss of the Moskva has likely made Putin even more furious about the situation in Ukraine. US officials believe Putin is angry over the failures of his troops in Ukraine. They believe Putin’s advisers have not been telling him the full truth and did not prepare him for potential setbacks.
The warship fiasco comes just weeks after top Russian military officials announced a shift in the focus of the invasion after their offensive appeared to have stalled around major Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv and Kharkiv. Russia has also failed to achieve complete air superiority in Ukraine and has suffered heavy losses of personnel since the start of the invasion.
Women clean inside a damaged building at the Vizar company military-industrial complex in Vyshneve, Ukraine, on Friday, April 15. The site on the outskirts of Kyiv was hit by Russian strikes.
Russia was quick to strike back.
Ukraine’s Operational Command South said in a statement early Saturday that the situation in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv and Kherson regions was “increasingly hostile.”
“Desperately trying to gain a foothold and hold on to the positions of the southern front, the world’s most shameful army is pursuing civilians in Mykolayiv and Kherson regions. The work of snipers has been recorded in some areas.”
The statement said Russian forces were “enraged by the losses in the Black Sea” and had “intensified the missile threat” in the region.
Natalia Humeniuk, the spokeswoman for the armed forces in southern Ukraine, said that the missile attacks since Thursday night were in retaliation for the Moskva sinking.
Exclusive: Zelensky says world should be prepared for possibility Putin could use nuclear weapons
“We all realize that we will not be forgiven,” she said, accusing Russia of using “cluster munitions prohibited by international conventions.”
The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has previously said it had received credible allegations that Russian armed forces have used cluster munitions in populated areas in Ukraine. The nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also confirmed Russia’s use of cluster munitions throughout the conflict.
Zelensky has on Friday praised the Ukrainian armed forces for repelling Russian attacks, saying they were “doing it brilliantly.”
Zelensky has also praised the help Ukraine was red wing shoes getting from western countries, but has asked for more weapons to be shipped to the country. “The more and the sooner we get all the weapons we have requested, the stronger our position will be and the sooner peace will come,” he said.

More weapons for Ukraine

In another sign that the war in Ukraine is not going the way Russia has planned, Moscow has formally protested America’s ongoing shipment of weapons to Ukraine. It sent a diplomatic note to the State Department warning of “unpredictable consequences” should the support continue, according to two US officials and another source familiar with the document.
Some Biden administration officials believe that the diplomatic note shows the Russians are hurting, one official said. The official explained that they believe the Russians would not have sent that message if they felt they were in a strong place on the battlefield.
The note, known as a demarche, was sent earlier this week as the US administration was preparing to announce that it would be sending a new military aid package worth $800 million to the Ukrainians. The EU has also approved an additional 500 million euros for military equipment for Ukraine.
Donbas, Ukraine's ravaged heartland, has suffered eight years of warfare. Here's why Putin wants it
For the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US is providing Kyiv with high-power capabilities that some Biden administration officials viewed as too much of an escalation risk a few short weeks ago.
These include Mi-17 helicopters, 18 155 mm Howitzers and 300 more Switchblade drones. These types of weapons are designed for the type of fighting that’s likely to take place in the Donbas region — open terrain rather than urban and wooded areas.
The US is also shipping 40,000 artillery rounds, but that amount could be expended within several days if fighting in the east grows heavier. During previous battles, Ukrainian forces fired thousands of artillery rounds in a day, a US official said Saturday.
There are growing concerns about the need to get more ammunition, in particular artillery ammunition, to Ukrainian forces more rapidly, a US official said.
The Ukrainian military and regional officials have said Russian attacks have intensified in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east of the country as they prepare for a major ground offensive there.
Going forward, US officials believe the likely Russia strategy is to move weapons and troops into eastern Ukraine from their current positions just north and then encircle and cut off Ukraine forces that are there, the official said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley are thorogood boots  conducting daily phone calls with counterparts in the region to encourage them to ship more weapons and supplies to Ukraine as soon as possible.
Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk region military administration, has warned civilians who remain in Luhansk to leave the area. “It is extremely dangerous to stay in the cities now. The shelling intensified,” he said.
The Ukrainian armed forces General Staff said that “the main focus of the Russian enemy is on the regrouping and strengthening of troops” around Slobozhansky, an area that is a short distance south of Kharkiv.
In the same area, according to the General Staff, Russian forces have concentrated up to 22 battalion tactical groups around Izium. A battalion tactical group normally comprises about 1,000 troops.

Ukraine’s richest man vows to rebuild besieged Mariupol

Ukraine’s richest man has pledged to help rebuild the besieged city of Mariupol, a place close to his heart where he owns two vast steelworks that he says will once again compete globally.

Rinat Akhmetov has seen his business empire shattered by eight years of fighting in Ukraine’s east but remains defiant, sure that what he calls “our brave soldiers” will defend the Sea of Azov city reduced to a wasteland by seven weeks of bombardment.
A shoemaker, a pizza shop and a bakery in Kyiv pivot to serve their country
For now, though, his Metinvest company, Ukraine’s biggest steelmaker, has announced it cannot deliver its supply contracts, and while his financial and industrial SCM Group is servicing its debt obligations, his private power producer DTEK “has optimized payment of its debts” in an agreement with creditors.
“Mariupol is a global tragedy and a global example of heroism. For me, Mariupol has swarovski jewelry been and will always be a Ukrainian city,” Akhmetov said in written answers to questions from Reuters.
“I believe that our brave soldiers will defend the city, though I understand how difficult and hard it is for them,” he said, adding he was in daily contact with the Metinvest managers who run the Azovstal and Illich Iron and Steel Works plants in Mariupol.
On Friday, Metinvest said it would never operate under Russian occupation and that the Mariupol siege had disabled more than a third of Ukraine’s metallurgy production capacity.
Akhmetov praised President Volodymyr Zelensky’s “passion and professionalism” during the war, seemingly smoothing relations after the Ukrainian leader last year said plotters hoping to overthrow his government had tried to involve the businessman.
Here are the companies pulling back from Russia
Akhmetov called the allegation “an absolute lie” at the time.
“And the war is certainly not the time to be at odds… We will rebuild the entire Ukraine,” he said, adding that he returned to the country on February 23 and had been there ever since.
‘A Marshall Plan for Ukraine’
Akhmetov did not say where exactly he was, but that he had been in Mariupol on February 16, the day some western intelligence services had expected the invasion to begin. “I talked to people in the streets, I met with workers…,” he said.
“My ambition is to return to a Ukrainian Mariupol and implement our (new production) plans so that Mariupol-produced steel can compete in global markets as before.”
Russia invaded on February 24 when President Vladimir Putin announced a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” the country. Kyiv and its Western allies reject that as a false pretext for an unprovoked attack.
Yellen: Russia-Ukraine war is reshaping global economy
Akhmetov, long Ukraine’s richest man, has seen his business empire shrink since 2014, when Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and two eastern Ukrainian regions — Donetsk and Luhansk — proclaimed independence from Kyiv.
According to Forbes magazine, Akhmetov’s net worth in 2013 reached $15.4 billion. It currently stands at $3.9 billion.
“For us, the war broke out in 2014. We lost all of our assets both in Crimea and in the temporarily occupied territory of Donbas. We lost our businesses, but it made us tougher and stronger,” he said.
“I am confident that, as the country’s biggest private business, SCM will play a key role in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine,” he said, citing officials as coach outlet saying the damage from the war has reached $1 trillion.
“We will definitely need an unprecedented international reconstruction program, a Marshall Plan for Ukraine,” he said, in reference to the US aid project that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War II.
“I trust that we all will rebuild a free, European, democratic, and successful Ukraine after our victory in this war.”

Miss World crowned amid calls for peace in Ukraine

Miss Poland Karolina Bielawska (C) smiles after winning the 70th Miss World beauty pageant at the Coca-Cola Music Hall in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 16, 2022.

Poland’s Karolina Bielawska was crowned the 70th Miss World on Wednesday, with contestants and organizers expressing solidarity with Ukrainians during an on-stage candle tribute at the televised finale.
Bielawska, who works as a model and is studying for a master’s degree, claimed the title in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, three months after the contest was delayed due to a Covid-19 outbreak. Miss USA, Shree Saini, oofos shoes was named first runner-up, while Ivory Coast’s Olivia Yacé took the second runner-up spot.
As well as the usual performances and live judging, the glitzy ceremony featured messages of support for Ukraine following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of the country, which shares a border with Poland. In one segment, Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh, who won Miss World in 2019, sung a rendition of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer” as those on stage and in the audience held candles aloft.
Miss World 2019 Toni-Ann Singh sings "The Prayer" during the 70th Miss World beauty pageant at the Coca-Cola Music Hall in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Miss World 2019 Toni-Ann Singh sings “The Prayer” during the 70th Miss World beauty pageant at the Coca-Cola Music Hall in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The words “a prayer for peace” appeared on a screen behind the finalists. The official Miss World Twitter account tweeted that the performance was part of the pageant’s efforts to “stand with Ukraine.” Organizers also said that more than 7,000 candles had been prepared for the show, which was broadcast in over 100 countries.
In a statement published prior to the pageant, CEO of Miss World Ltd., Julia Morley, said: “We must do something, even if it may seem never enough to light one candle, if we all light a candle together we can change the world,” while inviting people around the world to “shine their light for Ukraine” and post images to social media.
Earlier this week, Miss World organizers published a video message from 2016’s Miss Ukraine, Oleksandra Kucherenko. Against a virtual backdrop of footage from the conflict, she appealed to countries around the world “to support us, to close the sky above Ukraine and to save the world (from a) nuclear catastrophe,” adding: “Our peace is your peace.”
The current Miss Ukraine, Oleksandra Yaremchuk, who did not qualify for the final event, is currently in Kyiv, the organization said.
Miss Poland Karolina Bielawska waves after winning the 70th Miss World beauty pageant.
Miss Poland Karolina Bielawska waves after winning the 70th Miss World beauty pageant.
Initially scheduled for December, the Miss World pageant was postponed after multiple people linked to the event — including 23 of the 97 contestants — tested positive for Covid-19 with just days to go.
Only the 40 semi-finalists were invited back for Wednesday’s rearranged event, which was hosted by the English singer and TV personality Peter Andre and the Mexican singer coach outlet and actor Fernando Allende.
Preliminary competitions had already taken place by that time, with Yacé named winner of the pageant’s Top Model portion, Mongolian representative Burte-Ujin Anu winning the Miss World Talent content and Mexico’s Karolina Vidales named Miss World Sports.

At a secret airfield in Eastern Europe, a multinational effort to send weapons to Ukraine proceeds at high speed

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley went last week to an undisclosed airfield near the Ukrainian border that has become a hub for shipping weapons, a senior Defense Department official said, seeing firsthand the multinational effort to get weapons into Ukraine amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

While at the airfield, Milley met with troops and personnel and examined the shipment activity, the official said Friday. The site has become a beehive of activity in recent days, going from a handful of flights each day to as many as 17, the red wing shoes  field’s maximum capacity.
The airport’s location remains a secret to protect the shipments of weapons, including anti-armor missiles, into Ukraine. The Russian military has not targeted these shipments once they enter Ukraine, the official said, but there is some concern Russia could begin targeting the deliveries as its assault advances.
Since even before Russia’s invasion began late last month, the skies above Europe have been filled with military cargo aircraft of the US and others, particularly C-17s, the backbone of the US airlift fleet. The flights have been repositioning troops along NATO’s eastern flank, but also moving weapons to the transfer points where they can be delivered to Ukraine. The pace of the flights has only increased.
US European Command (EUCOM) is at the heart of the massive shipment operation, using its liaison network with allies and partners to coordinate “in real time” to send materials into Ukraine, a second Defense official said.
Blinken says US has seen reports of Russian abuses in Ukraine that 'would constitute a war crime'
EUCOM is also coordinating with other countries, including the United Kingdom, in terms of the delivery process “to ensure that we are using our resources to maximum efficiency to support the Ukrainians in an organized way,” the official added.
Since Russia’s invasion began, 14 countries have sent security assistance to Ukraine, the official said, some of whom had rarely sent such substantial equipment before.
The “vast majority” of a $350 million US security assistance package has already been delivered to Ukraine, according to the official, only one week after it was officially approved by the White House.
Approximately $240 million of the package has reached Ukraine, and the rest should arrive within days and maybe weeks, “but not longer,” the official said Friday. The components that have already been delivered include “the most needed capabilities, like anti-armor capabilities.”
Once in possession of the weapons, the Ukrainians have used them to slow and stall Russian assaults in different parts of Ukraine.
“I think all of us have been tremendously thorogood boots impressed by how effectively the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been using the equipment that we’ve provided them,” the official said.
Perhaps most notably, a massive Russian convoy spanning 40 miles of road north of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, has barely moved in days.
“We know that they have conducted attacks on that convoy, that those attacks were effective in slowing and stopping it,” another senior Defense official said Friday.
The equipment being sent in is equipment on which the Ukrainians have already received training, including some “just-in-time” training in late December and early January, the senior official said, adding that the Ukrainians can “use proficiently” the vast majority of the military equipment being sent in.
The speed at which the US now delivers weapons to Ukraine is dramatically faster than just two months ago. Most of a $200 million package approved in late December was delivered within a month, though some ammunition has yet to be shipped, the official said.
Meanwhile, the complete $350 million package, which the official described as the largest presidential drawdown in history, should be completed within days or weeks.