War in Ukraine: First visit by US high ranking officials in Kyiv. Russia accused of organizing concentration camps. 5 Ukrainian railway stations attacked within an hour

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv, where they spoke with President Volodymyr Zelensky, in the 61st day of the war in Ukraine.

Discussions focused on US military support, what types of weapons could be sent to Kiev and how quickly. Washington has promised to increase funding for Ukraine and NATO countries that have provided assistance to Ukraine.

This was, in our judgment, an important moment to be there, an important moment for Ukraine, for the war — an important moment to have face-to-face conversations in detail about the extraordinary support that we’ve provided: security, economic, humanitarian, as well as the massive pressure that we’ve been exerting on Russia,” Blinken said, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Zelenskyy expressed deep appreciation for President Joe Biden’s leadership and for the incredible generosity and support of the American people, Blinken said.

In turn, we expressed deep admiration for his leadership, for the extraordinary courage of Ukrainians in standing up to and pushing back this Russian aggression,” he said.

Discussions included returning U.S. diplomats to Ukraine starting next week, and Biden’s nominating a new ambassador to Ukraine, Ambassador Bridget Brink, who is currently the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, Blinken said.

“Russia continues to try to brutalize parts of the country, and the death and destruction that we continue to see is horrific. But Ukrainians are standing up, they’re standing strong and they’re doing that with the support that we have coordinated from literally around the world,” Blinken said.

Massive pressure against Russia and solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in providing security assistance is having real results, he said.

We’re seeing that when it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding. Russia has sought as its principal aim to totally subjugate Ukraine — to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. That has failed,” he said.

[Russia] sought to assert the power of its military and its economy. We of course are seeing just the opposite — a military that is dramatically underperforming; an economy, as a result of sanctions, … that is in shambles. And it’s sought to divide the West and NATO; of course, we’re seeing exactly the opposite … with new countries considering applying for membership,” Blinken said.

In his turn, Lloyd Austin said that he and Blinken expressed condolences to Zelenskyy for the loss of so many civilians and they expressed their admiration for his courageous troops that have done a magnificent job of pushing back Russian forces. The meeting with Zelenskyy focused on security assistance Ukraine would need to further beat back the Russian invaders, Austin said.

On April 21, a senior Defense Department official told the press that aid to Ukraine from the U.S., allies and partners is rapidly flowing into the country daily.

Counter-artillery radar; 155 mm howitzers; the Phoenix Ghost, a tactical unmanned aerial system and the training required to use the systems have been included in the latest and forthcoming security assistance, the official said.

Once this security assistance gets into Ukraine, it’s up to the Ukrainians where and how it will be employed, the official noted.

Poland sent tanks

Poland has sent tanks to Ukraine, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday, without giving further details, according to Reuters. Ukraine has repeatedly called on the West to provide more weapons, especially heavy equipment. “Yes,” Morawiecki said when asked if Poland had sent or would send tanks to Ukraine. He declined to disclose any other details, including the number of combat vehicles sent.

Meanwhile, undreds of thousands of Ukrainians spent Easter in cities on the front line. Very few of them went to church for fear of missiles or Russian projectiles falling on them.

In cities like Kramatorsk and Kharkov, which have been constantly bombarded lately, Easter has brought a few unexpected hours of silence. In Mariupol, however, the bombs fell on a holiday.

A new strong fire broke out at an oil depot in the Russian city of Bryansk, 100 km from the northern border of Ukraine.

5 people killed and 18 wounded after Russian bombing of train stations 

At least five people were killed and 18 others were injured Monday in Russian blows on railway installations in the Vinita region in the west-central part of Ukraine, the local prosecutor’s office announced, informs AFP and Reuters.

As a result of enemy bombing, five people have been killed and 18 others injured,” the local prosecutor’s office said in a statement, adding that rocket fire in the morning targeted “transport infrastructure” near small towns of Khmerinka and Kozeatin.

New mass grave has been discovered near Mariupol

Trenches exceed 200 meters in length. Another mass grave was discovered 5 kilometers from Mariupol in the Donetsk region, in the village of Starii Krîm.

The first trenches were dug, according to satellite images, on March 24, the village coming under Russian occupation after March 10, according to Nexta.

The Ukrainian army announced on Monday evening that Russian troops are focusing their efforts on the Kherson-Nikolaev and Kherson-Krivoy Rog directions. According to the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff, Russian troops are continuing the offensive in the eastern operational area to establish full control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. “Russian troops are launching missile attacks on military and civilian infrastructure items, including strategic bombers, ships and submarines. Attempts are being made to destroy the way military and technical assistance is provided by partner states, says the quoted source.

Russians accused of torturing civilians in concentration camps

Russian forces have set up concentration camps in the Kharkiv region, where civilians are being tortured, People’s Advocate Liudmila Denisova was quoted as saying by the Kyiv Independent.According to the People’s Advocate, the Russian troops improvised a concentration camp in the building of a factory in Vovceansk. Similar actions would take place in the Russian-occupied region of Izyum.

The women and children sheltered in Azovstal have not seen the sun for two months 

“Help us, we want to live!”, Desperately ask the mothers who hide with their children in the bunkers of the Mariupol plant. None of the thousands of people sheltered there have been on the surface for weeks, and food and water supplies are only enough for a few days.

 

Russia expels 40 German diplomats

Russia announced on Monday that it is expelling 40 German diplomats, in retaliation for a similar measure taken by Germany recently following the Russian offensive in Ukraine, informs AFP and dpa. Summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday, the German ambassador to Moscow was handed a note stating that “40 collaborators of the German diplomatic missions in Russia have been declared” persona non grata”, Russian diplomacy said in a statement.

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