Ukraine braces for new Russian offensive as Moscow dismisses rape accusations

  • Zelenskiy says Russia could use chemical weapons
  • Austrian leader meets Putin and warns of ‘massive’ offensive
  • UN official cites growing reports of violations
  • US urges India to cut off Russian oil and gas

LVIV, Ukraine, April 12 (Reuters) – Ukraine has asked for more weapons from the West to help end the siege of Mariupol and fend off an expected Russian offensive in the east, as more reports of rape and brutality against Ukrainian civilians by Russia. cash.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a televised speech late Monday that Russia could turn to chemical weapons as it amassed troops in the eastern Donbas region for a new assault on the port of Mariupol, where thousands of people died under an attack of almost seven week siege. read more

“When it comes to the necessary weapons, we continue to depend on supplies, on our partners. Unfortunately, we are not getting everything we need to end this war faster…In particular, to lift the blockade of Mariupol,” he said.

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The first European Union leader to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in person since he launched what he called a “special operation,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said after talks in Moscow on Monday that a “special operation” was being prepared. large-scale offensive in the east”. scale”. Read more

After suffering heavy losses and withdrawing forces from the kyiv suburbs, Russia has turned its sights on Donbas, where it is demanding that Ukraine cede control to separatist fighters. The capture of Mariupol would allow Moscow to attempt to encircle the main Ukrainian force in the east.

The departure of Russian forces from the outskirts of kyiv has brought to light horrific allegations of war crimes, including executions and rapes of civilians. Moscow dismisses the accusations as Ukrainian and Western provocations and has also accused Ukrainian forces of sexual violence.

Senior UN official Sima Bahous told the Security Council on Monday that while all allegations must be independently investigated, “the brutality shown against Ukrainian civilians has raised all red flags.”

“We hear more and more about rape and sexual violence,” he said. read more

Kateryna Cherepakha, president of the human rights group La Strada-Ukraine, told the Council via video: “We know and we see, and we want our voices to be heard, that violence and rape are now used as a weapon of war by the Russian invaders in Ukraine”. .”

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN denied the accusations, accusing Ukraine and its allies of “a clear intention to portray Russian soldiers as sadists and rapists.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the United States was ordering the Ukrainian government to plant false evidence of Russian violence against civilians despite what it called “unprecedented measures to save civilians” from Moscow.

“The United States, which has many years of experience in staging provocations with human victims, continues its campaign to create and promote false ‘evidence’,” the ministry said. read more

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has accused Russia of keeping civilians, including journalists, activists and elected officials, in prisons on Russian territory. Reuters was unable to verify the allegation. read more


The United States has tried to pressure Putin to withdraw his forces by banning Russian oil and gas and encouraging allies to do the same.

But world powers, including China and India, have refrained from sanctioning Russia. Lured by deep oil discounts, India has bought more Russian crude since the start of the February 24 invasion than it did in all of last year, data compiled by Reuters show. read more

In a video call, US President Joe Biden told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “very clearly it’s not in their interest” to increase reliance on Russian energy, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

During a brief part of the open call to reporters, Modi said he had suggested in recent talks with Russia that Putin and Zelenskiy hold direct negotiations.

France declared six Russian agents posing as diplomats persona non grata after an investigation by national intelligence services concluded they were working against French national interests. read more

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would not stop fighting for any new round of peace talks, which last met on April 1.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russian shelling continued in Donbas, but Ukrainian forces repulsed several attacks and destroyed Russian tanks, vehicles and artillery equipment.

The governor of another eastern region, Luhansk, told Ukrainian television that shelling was increasing by the day and urged all civilians to evacuate.

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Reuters bureau reports; Written by Stephen Coates; Edited by Lincoln Fest.

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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