NATO Russian Flags

NATO Chief Says Ukraine Can Win War With Russia After Finland And Sweden Military Alliance

Ukrainian forces have been able to push back the Russian military around Kharkiv as a part of their counter offense that has caused Russian troops to withdraw from the nation’s second-largest city. 

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made a statement on Sunday stating that “Ukraine can win this war” following the news that Finland was applying to join the military alliance. This is a historic move, as Finland traditionally remains neutral. 

Sweden’s President Sauli Niinisto said that “joining the military alliance will maximize Finland’s security after Russia’s unprecedented invasion of Ukraine in February.” 

Sweden is also expected to apply to join NATO, which is likely going to make tensions worse with Russia, who warned last week that it would be taking “retaliatory steps” should Finland join the military alliance. 

Embed from Getty Images

Additionally, Ukraine President Volodymyr Selenskyy took to Twitter to discuss his conversations with International Monetary Fund Director Kristalina Georgieva about receiving financial support for his country. 

Zelenskyy wrote that he and Georgieva “discussed the need for financial support for the Ukrainian economy,” and that they were looking forward to the “further fruitful joint work in maintaining financial stability of Ukraine.” 

Back in April Zelenskyy and Georgieva discussed Ukraine’s economic stability and preparations for post-war reconstruction. 

In a reply to a tweet from Zelenskyy in April, Georgieva said that “continued economic support by Ukraine’s partners is essential to lay the foundations for rebuilding a modern competitive Ukraine.”

In the US, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, one of the nation’s biggest security and aerospace companies, was awarded two contracts worth $309 million for its Javelin missiles. These missiles are anti tank weapons that have helped Ukraine in their fight against Russian invaders. 

Embed from Getty Images

Demand for these missiles has remained high throughout the entire war, but have seen an increase in demand as conditions worsen in Ukraine. The missiles have so far been used to stop Russian tanks from advancing on the capital.

The US has sent more than 5,500 Javelin systems to Ukraine. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet will be leading a delegation group to Moldova, Georgia, and the United Kingdom as a means of furthering their collaborative efforts to help Ukraine. 

Moldova is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to the war with Russia. Chollet is planning to meet with government officials in the nation to “reinforce US support for Moldova’s democracy, prosperity, and security.” 

“Chollet will then head to Georgia, where he will meet with government, opposition, and civil society representatives for discussions on Russia’s continuing occupation of parts of Georgia, on the Kremlin’s brutal war against Ukraine, and on how to advance the people of Georgia’s aspirations for a democratic, peaceful, prosperous, and Euro-Atlantic future,” according to the state department.

Chollet will then travel to the UK to discuss the countries’ response to the war in Ukraine and other global security concerns.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Vows Nation Will Emerge Victorious From War With Russia 

Both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to their citizens to acknowledge Victory Day, an annual celebration of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. 

Zelenskyy recounted Ukraine’s role fighting Nazi invaders who took over the western Soviet Union. 

“Today we celebrate the Day of Victory over Nazism, and we will not give anyone a single piece of our history. Our enemy dreamed that we would refuse to celebrate May 9th and the victory over Nazism, so that the ‘deNazification’ gets a chance. Millions of Ukranians fought Nazism.”

Embed from Getty Images

The Times tweeted how “President Zelenskyy vowed that his country would emerge victorious from its war. He said ‘The road to it is difficult, but we have no doubt that we will win.’”

Zelenskyy also argues that Putin is currently emulating the Nazi invaders from 80 years ago. 

“The one who is repeating the horrific crimes of Hitler’s regime today — following Nazi philosophy, copying everything he did — he is doomed. We won then. We will win now. Very soon, there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine.”

Russian President Putin’s speech on Victory Day justified the war as he gave a defense of his country. While Zelenskyy delivered his message through a pre-recorded video located between anti tank barriers in Kyiv, Putin delivered his address to Moscow’s Red Square before a massive military parade.

Embed from Getty Images

“Defending the motherland when its fate is being decided has always been sacred, today you are fighting for our people in Donbas, for the security of Russia, our homeland,” Putin said, comparing the current conflict to the World War II efforts to remove Nazi Germany’s invading armies. 

Putin continued to justify the war with Ukraine, calling it “inevitable.”

“The Kremlin had proposed a treaty to NATO last year that would guarantee Russia’s security. But that was in vain. The NATO countries did not want to hear us. And that means in fact that they had very different plans, and we could see that. They openly were preparing for yet another punitive operation in Donbas for an invasion of our historic lands in Crimea,” Putin explained. 

“NATO has been actively developing countries that border Russia. An expansion of this Western military alliance was an absolutely unacceptable threat. The death of each one of our soldiers and officers is our shared grief and an irreparable loss for their friends and relatives,” he said.

Ukraine Conflict

Ukraine Updates: Mariupol Residents Evacuating, Resolution Could Mean US Intervention 

This Monday the residents of Mariupol, Ukraine began a mass evacuation with Ukrainian authorities assisting thousands of more residents escape the city that once held almost 500,000 citizens. 

Mayoral adviser Petro Andryushchenko told the media that buses were heading toward Zaporizhzhia, which is 140 miles west of Mariupol. Individuals who own cars are being encouraged to evacuate themselves as quickly as possible. 

Embed from Getty Images

“We hope that thousands of our Mariupol residents … will get to Zaporizhzhia tonight or tomorrow morning,” Andryushchenko said Monday.

The Ukraine military said “civilians are already arriving in Zaporizhzhia [a city of about 750,000 people] and are being provided hot meals, physical and psychological examinations and medicines.”

“All evacuees will receive a calm refuge. Finally, these people will be able to feel safe.”

According to some estimates from authorities, about 100,000 people might still be trapped in the port city of Mariupol, with little access to food, water, and utilities. Several hundred of them are thought to be at a sprawling steel plant that is the last major holdout in the Russian-occupied city. 

Embed from Getty Images

More than 100 citizens were evacuated from the Azovstal plant on Sunday before Russian shelling forced a temporary halt to the evacuation efforts. The Russian military claims that 69 individuals chose to evacuate while 57 others asked to stay under Russian control. 

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told media stations that civilians who remain in the plant were likely afraid that the buses they boarded would be taken to Russia, but he has UN assurances that citizens would be going to Ukraine-controlled areas. 

Representative Adam Kinzinger is planning on introducing a joint resolution that would authorize President Joe Biden to use US military forces in Ukraine if Russia uses chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. 

“The legislation of the use of force would be used to protect the national security interests of the United States with respect to Ukraine and assist in defending and restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine.” 

“The authority would terminate when the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been restored,” according to the resolution.

“Putin must be stopped. Accordingly, the commander in chief of the world’s greatest military should have the authority and means to take the necessary actions to do so,” Kinzinger said.

World Military Spending Hits $2 Trillion For First Time In History 

In 2021, global military spending hit an all-time high of $2 trillion, according to a report from a leading defense think-tank in Sweden. This also marks the seventh consecutive year that collective spending on the military has increased from the previous year. 

Celebrity Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen Destroyed By Russian Missile In Ukraine

The World Central Kitchen location providing aid in Ukraine was destroyed by Russian missiles, which hit central Kharkiv, killing two people and injuring 18, many of which were workers for the non-profit.

Ukraine Could Lose Half Of Its Economy Due To War, According To World Bank 

The World Bank released a report this weekend that stated Ukraine could lose almost half of its economy this year as a result of Russia’s invasion and the ongoing war between the two nations. 

The bank estimated that the “country’s GDP could decline by 45.1% this year, although the magnitude of the contraction will depend on the duration and intensity of the war.”

Embed from Getty Images

Since Russia invaded, Ukraine’s infrastructure has endured excessive amounts of damage and destruction. Bridges, neighborhoods, and ports have been hit with multiple blockades, and farmland throughout the nation has become the setting for multiple battles. 

Before this conflict, Ukraine was a major exporter of wheat and sunflower oil, however, the growth of both has been interrupted by fighting. Farmers are also finding it difficult to access machinery and other essential products needed for farming that would typically arrive through Black Sea ports. 

“The magnitude of the humanitarian crisis unleashed by the war is staggering. The Russian invasion is delivering a massive blow to Ukraine’s economy and it has inflicted enormous damage to infrastructure,” Anna Bjerde, the World Bank’s vice president for the Europe and Central Asia region, said in a statement.

“Ukraine needs massive financial support immediately as it struggles to keep its economy going and the government running to support Ukrainian citizens who are suffering and coping with an extreme situation.”

Embed from Getty Images

Ukraine Finance Minister Serhii Marchenko has stated that “the government is still functioning, despite the war.”

“About a third of the country’s economy is no longer functioning as the atrocities continue and millions of people flee as refugees into neighboring countries,” he explained. 

Marchenko added that as of late March, nearly 3 million Ukranians have lost their jobs; preliminary reports show the nation’s economy has already lost approximately $565 billion. 

To keep the economy afloat, the government has “leaned on war bonds, as well as less traditional avenues, such as fundraising in cryptocurrencies and the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs),” according to Marchenko.

“I think that the true figures of total economic loss would be clear only after the war,” he said.

“The [best] scenario is to end the war as quickly as possible.”

New Report Details Gruesome Russian War Crimes In Ukraine 

Human Rights Watch released a new report detailing a multitude of war crimes committed by Russia within the first weeks of its invasion of Ukraine. The report was published Sunday, and cited the US accusing Russia of war crimes, and Kyiv accusing Moscow of genocide. 

Human Right Watch is a non-governmental organization known for providing updates, resources, and publicity for human rights violations throughout the world. The report detailed instances of war crimes between February 27th and March 14th; including repeated cases of rape, summary execution, unlawful violence, and general threats against innocent citizens. 

10 individuals provided personal accounts of what it’s like to be living in Ukraine territories that have been overtaken by Russia. One witness told the Human Rights Watch that Russian forces in Bucha forced five residents to kneel on the side of the road before shooting them each in the back of the head. 

Embed from Getty Images

Another witness described how she was the victim of rape by a Russian soldier who raped her multiple times in a school in Kharkiv, where she was seeking shelter with her family. She claimed that the man cut her face, neck, and hair with a knife as well. 

“The incidents cited amount to unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” said Hugh Williamson, the Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Last month, the Biden administration determined that Russian forces have committed multiple war crimes in Ukraine, and labeled president Vladimir Putin as a war criminal. Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky also accused Russia of Genocide on Sunday. 

“Indeed, this is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities.”

Embed from Getty Images

“We are the citizens of Ukraine and we don’t want to be subdued by the policy of the Russian Federation. This is the reason we are being destroyed and exterminated, and this is happening in the Europe of the 21st century. So this is the torture of the whole nation,” Zelensky added.

This Sunday images surfaced online of the violence occurring in Bucha specifically. Images of bodies on the street caused an uproar online, including one image of a person who was tied up with their arms behind their back before they were killed. 

The Russian defense ministry has casually dismissed these images as “fakes staged by the Kiev regime for the Western media.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the images “horrific.”

“It’s absolutely unacceptable that civilians are targeted and killed. And it just underlines the importance that this war must end. And that is President Putin’s responsibility, to stop the war.”

Russia has pulled its troops from cities and towns near Kyiv, and it’s believed the nation will be repositioning its invasion to focus on eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine Leader Seeking Peace ‘Without Delay’ In New Talks With Russia 

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the nation could declare neutrality and potentially accept a compromise on contested areas in the east. He also claimed they’re willing to offer security guarantees to Russia to “secure peace without delay.”

Zelenskyy also emphasized that “Ukraine’s priority is ensuring its sovereignty and its territorial integrity — preventing Russia from carving up our country. Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state — we are ready to go for it,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with media outlets.

Embed from Getty Images

This is the most forceful Zelenskyy has been when it comes to peace between Ukraine and Russia. Russia has continued to demand that Ukraine drop any hope of joining the western NATO alliance. 

Zelenskyy has been adamant that Ukraine needs security guarantees if any sort of deal is to be made as well. 

“We must come to an agreement with the president of the Russian Federation, and in order to reach an agreement, he needs to get out of there on his own feet … and come to meet me,” Zelenskyy said in an interview that Russia banned its media from publishing.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the “two presidents could meet, but only after the key elements of a potential deal are negotiated. The meeting is necessary once we have clarity regarding solutions on all key issues.

Embed from Getty Images

“Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt, compromise might be possible over the complex question of Donbas,” Zelenskyy explained, stating that Ukraine would not try to take back the entirety of Donbas, because “that would lead to World War III.” 

“Any compromises on Donbas or agreement on neutrality must be put to a referendum of Ukrainian voters after Russian troops withdraw, while Moscow wants them sealed in a deal immediately.”

Alina Beskrovna, who escaped the southern port of Mariupol in a convoy of cars and made it across the border to Poland, said “desperate people were melting snow for water and cooking on open fires “under shelling and bombs just because if you don’t, you will have nothing to eat.”

“There is no medicine. A lot of people are just, I think, starving to death in their apartments right now with no help. It’s a mass murder that’s happening at the hands of the Russians.”

Zelenskyy has continued to plead with Western countries to provide more assistance and aid, accusing many political leaders around the world of lacking courage due to their lack of response. 

Ukraine Rejects Surrendering Port City Of Mariupol To Russia In Exchange For Safe Passage For Ukrainians 

This Monday Russia demanded Ukrainians to stop fighting and surrender the port city of Mariupol in exchange for safe passage out of town for citizens. This demand came hours after Russian forces bombed an art school in the port city which was sheltering 400 people.

Russian Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev stated that his forces would allow two corridors of citizens out of Mariupol, heading either east toward Russia, or west to other parts of Ukraine. Residents of the port city were given until 5 a.m. on Monday to respond to the offer; Russia didn’t make any statement about what action it would take if Ukrainians refused. 

“There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms. We have already informed the Russian side about this,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk told the news.

Mariupol Mayor Piotr Andryushchenko also rejected the offer, saying he “didn’t need to wait until morning to respond and curse at the Russians,” according to the news agency Interfax Ukraine.

Embed from Getty Images

The Russian Ministry of Defense said “authorities in Mariupol could face a military tribunal if they sided with bandits,” Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Previous attempts to allow residents to evacuate Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities have been either only partly successful, or failed completely due to continuous violence and conflict throughout the nation. 

Speaking in a video address early Monday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “about 400 civilians were taking shelter at the art school when it was struck by a Russian bomb. They are under the rubble, and we don’t know how many of them have survived,” he said. 

“But we know that we will certainly shoot down the pilot who dropped that bomb, like about 100 other such mass murderers whom we already have downed.”

Three weeks after Russia initially invaded, Western government and analysts are claiming the conflict is moving to be a war of attrition, as Russian forces are launching long-range missiles at Ukraine cities and military bases. Ukraine forces have responded by cutting their supply lines. 

“Moscow cannot hope to rule the country, given Ukrainians’ enmity toward the Russian forces,” Zelenskyy said Monday.

The strike on the art school marks the second time within a week that Russian forces attacked a public building where Mariupol residents have taken shelter. On Wednesday, a bomb hit a theater where it was believed more than 1,000 people were sheltering. Ukrainian officials have not been able to provide an update on the search of the theater since Friday, where it was reported that at least 130 people were rescued, and another 1,300 were trapped by the rubble. 

Embed from Getty Images

Officials have stated that food, water, and electricity has been very scarce in Mariupol, and the constant fighting has kept out humanitarian convoys. The city has essentially been under attack for three weeks, and has seen some of the most amounts of violence throughout the entire invasion. 

City officials said at least 2,300 people have died, with some buried in mass graves. 

“The block-by-block fighting in Mariupol itself is costing the Russian military time, initiative, and combat power. Russia failed in its initial campaign to take the capital of Kyiv and other major cities quickly,”  the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in a briefing.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “Ukrainian resistance means Putin’s forces on the ground are essentially stalled. It’s had the effect of him moving his forces into a woodchipper.”

According to AP journalists, “Six more people were killed Sunday by shelling in the densely populated Podil district, not far from the center of capital Kyiv. The attack there devastated a shopping center, leaving a flattened ruin still smoldering Monday morning in the midst of high-rise towers. The force of the explosion shattered every window in the high-rise next door and twisted their metal frames.”

The UN has confirmed 902 civilian deaths in the war, but claims the actual total is likely much larger. Nearly 3.4 million people have fled the Ukraine, at least 115 children have been killed and 148 have been injured so far.

Russia Requesting Military And Economic Aid From China, According To US Officials

According to US officials, Russia has asked China for military and economic assistance, including drones, as a part of their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The official’s declined to state what exactly China’s response was to the request, but it is known that they did respond.

The news of the request was brought up to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan during a conversation with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. Sullivan explained to the media afterwards that providing Russia with support from China would be a “concern.”  

“We also are watching closely to see the extent to which China actually does provide any form of support, material support or economic support, to Russia. It is a concern of ours. And we have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions,” Sullivan said.

Russia continued its attack to western Ukraine this weekend, firing off missiles near the city of Lviv, and hitting a large military base close to the Polish border. The blasts reportedly killed dozens of people. 

Embed from Getty Images

China claims that it was not asked by Russia for military aid or any other type of assistance. Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the US, said in a statement, “I’ve never heard of that. The Ukraine situation is indeed disconcerting, China has and will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

“The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control. … China calls for exercising utmost restraint and preventing a massive humanitarian crisis.”

Beijing is currently trying to strike a neutral tone regarding the international conflict. Chinese domestic media coverage has, however, promoted Russian disinformation campaigns and described the war as a “special military operation. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki and other US officials have been critical of Beijing’s response overall. 

“Beijing has seemingly endorsed false Russian claims that the US is developing chemical weapons in Ukraine.”

“Our assessment right now is that China is abiding by the requirements that have been put in place, but we would continue to encourage any country to think a lot about what place they want to — what role they want to play — in history as we all look back,” Psaki said Wednesday.

Sullivan said that the “US has made it clear to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale efforts to give the Kremlin a workaround to US sanctions.”

Embed from Getty Images

“We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world. While the US believes China, in fact, was aware before the invasion took place that Vladimir Putin was planning something, they may not have understood the full extent of it. Because it’s very possible that Putin lied to them the same way that he lied to Europeans and others,” Sullivan explained. 

Sullivan also expressed to the media this weekend that while the “Biden administration is concerned about the possibility of escalation with respect to Putin’s nuclear posture, we have not seen anything that would require us to change our nuclear posture at this time.” 

“We are watching this extremely closely, and obviously, the escalation risk with a nuclear power is severe, and it is a different kind of conflict than other conflicts the American people have seen over the years,” he said, before explaining the administration’s decision to reject Poland’s offer to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine through the US and German air base. 

“The President listened to the assessment of his intelligence community, he listened to the advice of his military commanders, he consulted his NATO allies, and he ultimately determined that the risk-benefit analysis of flying planes from NATO bases into contested airspace over Ukraine did not make sense, was not something that he would authorize.

The US is focused on providing other anti-air systems that could help the Ukrainians make progress in terms of dealing with the threat that is coming from the air from the Russian side,” Sullivan explained.

The national security adviser also reiterated that Russia “would pay a severe price if they chose to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine. Russia’s accusations against Ukraine preparing to deploy chemical weapons is a tell, a tell that they themselves may be preparing to do so and then trying to pin the blame on someone else– that’s a classic page out of the Russian playbook.”