Ukraine is pressing NATO for more weapons as Russia is expected to reposition its forces before launching a major offensive in southeastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on April 7, as well as ministers from the Group of Seven, who promised “additional restrictive measures” against Russia and a “willingness to continue to help, including with military equipment and financial resources”. means, to enable Ukraine to defend itself against Russian aggression and to rebuild Ukraine”.
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The G7, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, also condemned “in the strongest terms” what it calls the ” atrocities” committed by Russia in the city of Bucha and other regions. from Ukraine.
“Haunting images of civilian deaths, victims of torture and apparent executions, together with reports of sexual violence and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, show the true face of Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine and its people,” the G7 foreign ministers said. said in a joint statement April 7.
“The massacres in the town of Bucha and other Ukrainian towns will be included in the list of atrocities and serious violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, committed by the aggressor on the Ukrainian soil,” he added.
Kuleba said he and G7 ministers discussed how they could take military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine to the next level.
“Ukraine offers a fair deal: the world gives us all the support we need; we fight and win [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in Ukraine”, he said on Twitter after the meeting in Brussels.
Kuleba called for the dispatch of more aircraft, air defense systems, missiles and military vehicles from NATO allies.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said NATO was discussing how to increase its aid to Ukraine with “different military weapons”.
“We are examining closely with our partners how we can support Ukraine in the future, in a more intensive and coordinated way, because they have a right of self-defense and we will support this right of self-defense with different partners”, a- she declared. at the NATO meeting.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Ukraine of derailing talks with Russia by changing its negotiating position. He accused Ukraine of going back on its proposal that international guarantees of its security do not apply to Crimea.
Russia illegally annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014 and wants Ukraine to recognize Moscow’s sovereignty over it.
Lavrov also accused Ukraine of changing a provision of a draft agreement it submitted earlier, according to which military exercises on Ukrainian territory could be held with the consent of all guarantor countries, including including Russia.
Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed Lavrov’s claims, however, saying that Lavrov was not directly involved in the negotiations and that his statements were “of purely propagandistic significance”.
Podolyak told Reuters that Moscow was trying to distract from events in Bucha.
“That’s how statements like this should be viewed,” he said.
Russia faces its most difficult situation in three decades due to unprecedented Western sanctions, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on April 7.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said that despite the waves of sanctions already imposed on Russia, the West must still tighten sanctions – while ending Russian imports of oil and gas – to force Moscow to end its aggression. .
Economic concerns should not come above punishment for civilian killings that the West condemns as “war crimes”, he said.
“Once and for all, we can teach Russia and any other potential aggressor that those who choose war always lose,” Zelenskiy said in a speech to the Greek parliament. “Those who blackmail Europe with the economic and energy crisis always lose.”
Washington announced new measures on April 6, including sanctions against Putin’s two adult daughters and a major bank. However, the European Union has not approved a new set of measures, including a ban on Russian coal imports, on April 6, despite Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, saying the package could be transmitted either later on April 7 or on April 8. .
WATCH: The Present asked residents of several cities in Russia: ‘Have you heard of the Ukrainian town of Bucha?’ Many echoed the Kremlin line that images of atrocities were “fake”. Some Russians, however, expressed shock and called the killings “horrific”, while others were too scared to share their true feelings.
Speaking at the April 7 NATO meeting, Borrell also said the EU would discuss an embargo on Russian oil, possibly on April 11.
Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly is expected to vote on April 7 on suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.
The push to hit Moscow harder follows international condemnation of the apparent executions of civilians on the streets of Bucha.
Local officials say more than 300 people were killed by Russian forces in Bucha alone, and around 50 of them were executed. Moscow denies the accusations.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he had summoned the Russian ambassador to Paris over an “obscene” tweet that tried to portray the Bucha massacre as a fake.
“Faced with the obscene and provocative communication from the Russian Embassy in France on Bucha’s atrocities, I have decided to summon the Russian Ambassador,” the head of French diplomacy said in a tweet on April 7.
After retreating from areas near kyiv, Russian forces are now regrouping to take full control of the breakaway eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, Ukrainian officials said. The beleaguered southern port of Mariupol, where its mayor said more than 100,000 civilians are still trapped, was also a target.
“Evacuate! The chances of saving you and your family from Russian death are decreasing every day,” said Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region.
WATCH: The village of Borodyanka, 50 kilometers from kyiv, was badly damaged by Russian airstrikes. According to Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, the worst situation with civilian casualties is in Borodyanka. The collapsed buildings have not been cleared and the number of casualties has not yet been determined. RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service reporter Levko Stek listened to locals’ stories about what Russian troops did in the city.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 10 evacuation corridors had been agreed on April 7, but residents of Mariupol would need their own vehicles to leave.
The US Senate was planning to pass legislation on April 7 to end normal trade relations with Russia and codify President Joe Biden’s executive action banning imports of Russian oil. The trade suspension would allow Biden to pass higher tariffs on some Russian imports.
The United States and the United Kingdom boycotted an April 6 informal meeting of the UN Security Council called by Russia to press its baseless claims that the United States has biological warfare laboratories in Ukraine. .
But the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said on April 6 that his allies needed to go further.
“Sanctions against Russia must be ruinous enough for us to end this terrible war,” he said. “My goal is to impose an embargo on the supply of dual-use technologies, equipment, minerals and ores (and) rare earths to Russia and thus to stop arms production in Russia.”