A confrontation looms in Ukraine as Russia selected a new military commander and announced plans to focus its attacks on the country’s eastern regions, while Ukraine’s president declared his forces would stand firm, pressing Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, to do more.
“Russian soldiers will shift to even greater operations in the east of our state,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address to the country on Sunday, warning that this week will be as vital as any throughout the war.
He believes that when the fight moves south and east, Ukraine’s destiny will be determined by the US’ ability to counter an increase in Russian armaments.
“To be honest, whether we will be able to (survive) hinges on this,” Zelenskyy said via a translator in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday night. “Unfortunately, I am not optimistic that we will receive what we require.
Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to Biden for U.S. military assistance thus far, but stressed that he had “long ago” given a list of particular goods that Ukraine urgently need.
Zelenskyy responded, “He has the list.” “President Biden can go down in history as the man who stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine as they won and chose their own nation. This, too, is dependent on him.”
After meeting with Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer was scheduled to meet with Putin in Moscow on Monday. Austria, a European Union member, is militarily neutral and does not belong to NATO.
According to experts, the next phase of the struggle might start with a full-scale attack, the success of which could define the path of the conflict, which has leveled towns, killed tens of thousands, and economically and diplomatically isolated Moscow.
After their march on Kyiv was halted by brave Ukrainian resistance, questions linger regarding the potential of weakened and demoralized Russian forces to seize more land. According to the UK Defense Ministry, Russian troops are attempting to compensate for growing fatalities by returning veterans who were dismissed in the previous decade.
Zelenskyy also accused Russia of attempting to avoid accountability for war crimes in Ukraine in his Sunday night statement.
“People become monsters when they lack the guts to confess their mistakes, apologize, adjust to reality, and grow. When the world ignores them, the monsters conclude that the world must adapt to them,” Zelenskyy explained.
“There will come a day when they will have to acknowledge everything,” says the narrator. He went on to say, “Accept the truth.”
Russia has picked Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, one of its most experienced military officers, to supervise the invasion, according to a senior US official in Washington. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to be identified.
Russia has had no central war commander on the ground until recently.
As the Russian military prepares to focus on increasing authority in Ukraine’s east, Dvornikov, 60, assumes command. Since 2014, rebels supported by Russia have fought Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern Donbas area, declaring some territory independence.
He rose to fame in 2015 as the commander of Russian soldiers sent to Syria to support President Bashar Assad’s administration amid the country’s horrific civil war. Officials from the United States claim he has a history of violence against civilians in Syria and elsewhere.
Russian officials seldom acknowledge such positions, and have said nothing about Dvornikov’s new post since President Vladimir Putin awarded him the Hero of Russia medal, one of the country’s highest honors, in 2016.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan downplayed the significance of the appointment.
“In the first few weeks of this conflict, we’ve learnt that Ukraine will never be subordinated to Russia,” Sullivan stated. “It doesn’t matter who President Putin seeks to designate as a general.”
Russia’s attack, according to Western military analysts, is increasingly concentrated on a sickle-shaped arc of eastern Ukraine, stretching from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in the north to Kherson in the south.
This might help Russia overcome its previous dilemma of spreading their attack too thinly across a large geographic area.
“Just looking at it on a map,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Friday, “you can see that they will be able to bring a lot more power in a lot more concentrated form.”
Maxar Technologies satellite data published recently revealed an 8-mile (13-kilometer) convoy of military vehicles heading south through Ukraine to Donbas, evoking recollections of a convoy that stopped on Kyiv highways for weeks before Russia abandoned its attempt to capture the city.
Russian soldiers bombed government-controlled Kharkiv on Sunday and moved reinforcements into Izyum in the southeast, according to the Ukrainian military leadership. The Russians also maintained their siege on Mariupol, a strategic southern port that has been under siege for over a year and a half.
Russia’s military employed air-launched missiles to attack Ukraine’s S-300 air-defense missile systems in the southern Mykolaiv area and at an air base in Chuhuiv, a city not far from Kharkiv, according to a Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov.
According to Konashenkov, Russian cruise missiles launched from the sea damaged the headquarters of a Ukrainian military unit stationed farther west in the Dnipro area. The military claims of both Ukraine and Russia could not be independently confirmed.
On Sunday, missiles attacked the airport in Dnipro, Ukraine’s fourth-largest city, twice, according to the regional governor.
Zelenskyy called for extra help again on Sunday night. He claimed he discussed “ways to intensify sanctions against Russia and… push Russia to seek peace” with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“I am pleased to see that Germany’s stance on Ukraine has recently shifted in favor of Ukraine. “I think it’s perfectly sensible,” Zelenskyy replied.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stated that Ukraine’s response to a questionnaire she sent Zelenskyy will help her determine whether or not to endorse the country as a candidate for EU membership.
Normally, the procedure takes years, but Ukraine’s case might be considered in weeks, according to Ursula von der Leyen.
“Someone told me yesterday: ‘You know, when our warriors die, I want them to know that their children will be free and part of the European Union,'” said von der Leyen.
Russian soldiers are accused by Ukrainian authorities of perpetrating war crimes against civilians, including attacks on hospitals, a missile attack on a railway station that killed at least 57 people, and other acts of brutality.
Ukraine has accused Russia of murdering people in Bucha and other towns outside the capital, where hundreds of dead were discovered after Russian soldiers fled, many with their wrists bound and evidence of torture. Russia has refuted the accusations, claiming erroneously that the events in Bucha were fabricated.
Russia sent Chechen militants to Mariupol, who are said to be extremely ruthless. Capturing the city on the Sea of Azov would provide Russia a land connection to Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which it took eight years ago.
Since Russian soldiers surrounded the area and thwarted evacuation operations, people have been without food, water, and electricity. Authorities believe hundreds of civilians were killed in an airstrike on a theater that was being used as a bomb shelter, and Zelenskyy has stated that he expects additional proof of crimes to be discovered once Mariupol is no longer blockaded.
Russian soldiers would “renew offensive operations in the next days” from Izyum, a town southeast of Kharkiv, in the drive to take the Donbas, which encompasses Ukraine’s industrial heartland, according to the Institute for the Study of War, an American think tank.
“The result of impending Russian operations in eastern Ukraine remains very much in question,” the think tank’s researchers said.