Biden meets with Ukrainian ministers, doubts Russian strategy change

A man flees from artillery fire in Kharkiv on March 25, 2022 – AFP

US President Joe Biden met this Saturday (26) in Warsaw with two Ukrainian ministers to show his support for the country invaded by Russia and questioned that Moscow had limited its military objectives, after a month of hard work. fighting.

In the Polish capital, Biden had his first meeting with members of the Kiev government since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

In the conversation with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, and the Defense Minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, it was about the “unshakable commitment [dos Estados Unidos] with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price.

After that, Biden met with Polish President Andrzej Duda, to whom he reiterated the United States’ “sacred commitment” to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) collective defense pact, in a message addressed to border countries. with Ukraine concerned about the Russian offensive.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion with the aim of destroying the military capabilities of this former Soviet republic and overthrowing the pro-Western government of Volodymyr Zelensky. A month later, however, Russian troops seem far from the expected advances: they have failed to capture almost any major cities, and attacks on civilians are increasingly lethal.

On Friday, a high-ranking Russian official unexpectedly announced that from now on the offensive will focus on the “liberation” of Donbass, in the east of the country, already partially dominated by pro-Moscow separatist groups.

The Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Sergei Rudskoy, stated that this new orientation is due to the fact that “the main objectives of the first phase of the operation have been achieved” and “the combat capabilities of the Ukrainian forces have been reduced to a minimum”. meaningful way”.

This apparent shift in strategy coincides with reports from the West that Moscow lost a seventh general in the war and that a colonel was shot down by his own men. The Russians also face a counter-offensive in Kherson, the only major city captured so far.

Biden said, however, that he is not convinced that the announcement of a change in Russian strategy corresponds to reality. Asked in Warsaw by a journalist about the implications of this change, Biden replied: “I’m not sure they’ve changed.”

This Saturday (26), the city of Lviv, in the far west of Poland, relatively unaffected by the war so far, was the target of two bombings that left five wounded, said the regional governor.

The mayor of Chernigov (north) warned, in turn, that Russian troops tightened the siege, and now it is practically impossible to evacuate civilians and wounded from this city located 120 km from Kiev.

Since the beginning of the invasion, more than 10 million Ukrainians (about 25% of the population) have had to leave their homes, and 3.7 million have left the country. Of these, 2.2 million went to Poland, according to data from the Ukrainian authorities and the UN.

After meeting with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher”. On previous occasions during the conflict, he had already referred to him as a “war criminal”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia, in turn, of encouraging a dangerous arms race by trumpeting its nuclear weapons. In a videoconference speech at the Doha Forum, Zelensky also called on Qatar to increase its production of natural gas, to avoid Russian pressure on the European Union (EU). The block is still highly dependent on Russian hydrocarbon imports.

On Friday, the US and EU announced the creation of a working group to reduce Europe’s dependence on fossil energy from Russia, providing for the delivery of US gas.

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