The war in Ukraine is now over four weeks old. Here is the latest on the crisis in Ukraine as the nation grapples with immense loss and destruction.
Siege of Mariupol Continues
The port city of Mariupol continues to be the epicenter of destruction in Ukraine. Local officials estimate that as many as 2,500 local civilians have died in the city located in the southeastern corner of the country. In addition, thousands more are trapped without access to heat, electricity, and water.Read More »
Earlier in the week, a bomb destroyed a theater where thousands of civilians had been sheltering in place. A fire broke out in the structure after a plane dropped a bomb. According to satellite imagery, the word “children” was spelled out on the theater before it was attacked.
There is no definitive word on the number of casualties as a result of this attack. According to the Ukraine’s human rights commissioner Liudmyla Denisova, there were about 130 people rescued from the debris. Officials believe that about 1,300 people were in the building at the time of the attack.
Extent of Russian Losses
Although Russian officials have been quiet about their personal losses, NATO estimates that thousands of Russian troops have lost their lives in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion. Russia is now having a difficult time replenishing its forces as it continues its assault short-handed.
NATO officials are pointing to the mass amount of Russian casualties as the reason why the attempt to capture the capital city of Kyiv have not been successful. Ukrainian authorities are so confident about their ability to hold onto Kyiv that they announced the start of a counteroffensive with the goal of gaining back control of the outlying areas.
The estimates of the Russian losses vary from 3,000 – 10,000 depending on the source. The discrepancy is being blamed on the lack of information coming from Russia. Reports of declining morale among Russian troops are also prevalent on the ground. Satellite imagery has shown Russian forcers abandoning their vehicles and tanks on the battlefield, signaling that some troops are giving up the fight.
Roadblock to Free Brittney Griner
American basketball player Brittney Griner is still in Russian custody after a Thursday court hearing. According to state news agency TASS, Griner will remain in custody in Russia until at least May 19.
The women’s WNBA star also plays in the Russia’s Women’s Premier League during the off-season. She was arrested on February 17 after being accused of bringing hash oil into Russia. Griner’s attorneys are contending that the arrest was unlawful.
U.S. Response to the Continuing Crisis
The U.S. government continues to debate over how to help the Ukrainians without inserting itself into an international crisis. On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to suspend normal trade operations with Russia and its ally Belarus.
The final vote in the House was 424-8, an indicator of its bipartisan support. The legislation is now being passed on to the U.S. Senate for a vote. The bill was introduced to the House by Democratic Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts and Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas.
Missiles Fired at Lviv
Russian forces sent six missiles into the city of Lviv on Friday, according to the Ukraine military. Two of the missiles were intercepted by air defense systems. Up until recently, the western city had been largely spared the destruction that was happening in the southern and eastern areas of the country.
Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said the missiles hit an aircraft repair plant, located near the city’s airport. Lviv is located about 43 miles from the Polish border, raising concern that an errant missile will hit a NATO nation. An attack on a NATO country could have significant international repercussions.
Call Between Biden and Chinese President
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday morning to discuss the escalating situation in Ukraine. China has been trying to project a neutral stance since the war began, refusing to condemn Russia for the invasion. IN addition, Chinese officials have alleged that the U.S. is instigating the conflict.
While China and Russia are not military allies, the two major players on the international scene have banned together in recent years to partner in trade and other security issues. The two countries are also like-minded in their views on the infringement of Western culture on the rest of the world.
It has been reported that Russia has asked China to help them financially and from a military perspective. However, it is not known if China is going to honor this request and help the Russians.
According to reports from the Chinese state media, Xi told Biden that conflict and confrontation are not in the interest of anyone. U.S. officials are hopeful that the discussion between the two world leaders will help to create a unified front moving forward.
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