Fighting intensified on Tuesday in southern and eastern Ukraine, where US arms shipments are expected to ramp up after Joe Biden reactivated an iconic device from World War II.
Missiles also targeted the Odessa region, the Ukrainian army counting seven strikes and deploring one dead and five wounded. The President of the European Council Charles Michel, on a surprise visit to this large southern city on Monday, was forced to take shelter.
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“You are not alone. The EU is on your side” in the face of Russian “aggression”, declared Mr. Michel alongside Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Chmygal. “We will be with you as long as it takes,” he continued.
In addition, the Russians “continue to prepare offensive operations in the Lyman and Severodonetsk regions”, in Donbass (east), the Ukrainian general staff announced on Tuesday morning, adding that artillery fire and air strikes continued at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
“Very intense battles were taking place around Roubijné and Bilogorivka” in the Lugansk region (east), Governor Serguiï Gaïdaï indicated the day before.
The Ukrainians can count on American military aid which has already amounted to some 3.8 billion dollars since the beginning of the conflict.
It should be further facilitated by the signing on Monday by President Joe Biden of the “Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act”. This “lend-lease” law takes up the system adopted in 1941 by Roosevelt giving the American president extensive powers to support the war effort in Europe.
“I am convinced that Putin believed he could break NATO, that he believed he could break the European Union,” Mr. Biden added a little later during a political fundraising operation. .
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saw the adoption of this law as a “historic step”: “I am convinced that we will win again together. And we will defend democracy in Ukraine. And in Europe. Like 77 years ago,” he wrote on Twitter.
The date of this signature, May 9, coincides with the great military parade in Red Square celebrating the 77th anniversary of the capitulation of Nazi Germany, during which Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated his arguments to justify his invasion of Germany. Ukraine, launched on February 24.
He claimed that Ukraine was preparing an offensive against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, that it wanted to acquire the atomic bomb and was supported by NATO.
“An absolutely unacceptable threat was building up, directly on our borders,” he said.
After his speech, 11,000 soldiers, dozens of vehicles, including strategic missile launchers and tanks, crossed Red Square. Among them, units presented as returning from the Ukrainian front. The aerial part had to be canceled due to unfavorable weather, according to the Kremlin.
Westerners reject Mr. Putin’s arguments. The Russian president “is in the completely revisionist justification of the motives for war. He has a discourse of denial and reversal of responsibilities”, regretted the head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian on the television channel BFMTV.
An hour before the Russian President’s speech, Volodymyr Zelensky released a video in which he hammered: “We will not let anyone annex this victory, take it over.”
“On Victory Day over the Nazis, we are fighting for another victory, the road to this victory is long, but we have no doubts,” he insisted, walking down Khrechtchatyk Avenue. center of Kyiv. “We won then, we will win now.”
Same determination in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in kyiv. “It’s completely stupid everything that’s happening, Putin is rewriting history,” says Lera Nelioub, who came to flower the monument with her father, a veteran of the Second World War.
French President Emmanuel Macron, however, called on Monday not to “humiliate” Russia, because “tomorrow we will have a peace to build”.
Rather than kyiv joining the EU which would take “several decades”, Mr Macron proposes the creation of a “European political community” which could accommodate Ukraine and other “democratic European nations adhering to our base of values”.
Washington is also monitoring the Russian arms industry which, according to the Pentagon, is beginning to suffer from international sanctions and is struggling to replace guided missiles used in Ukraine because of the embargo on electronic components which hits Russia.
John Kirby, spokesman for the Pentagon, also assured that Ukrainians had been “sent against their will” to Russia, without being able to give a figure. kyiv advances that of 1.2 million people deported to Russia and placed in camps.
The UN Human Rights Council will organize Thursday at the request of kyiv, supported by dozens of countries, a special session on “the deterioration of the human rights situation in Ukraine”.
On the same day, the UN Security Council should meet for the 16th time since the start of the Russian invasion, at the request of France and Mexico. This session follows the bombing this weekend of a school in eastern Ukraine, in which 60 civilians were killed, according to kyiv.
In Mariupol, a port in southeastern Ukraine almost entirely under Russian control, where the Ukrainian soldiers who are still resisting in the huge Azovstal steelworks have ruled out surrendering, the pro-Russian separatists marched for May 9.
In Belgrade, Sofia and Vienna, hundreds of people also marched with Russian flags.
In Warsaw, the Russian ambassador to Poland was sprayed with a red substance reminiscent of blood and attacked by pro-Ukrainian demonstrators, as he prepared to lay a wreath at the Warsaw cemetery where the Soviet soldiers who died in World War II.