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Zelensky queries Europe’s resolve; Putin remains confident of success

Ukraine's president worked on Tuesday to remind his Western allies that their help was needed to ward off Russia's invasion, even as his Russian counterpart said he saw the invasion going to plan and expected all his goals to be achieved.

Moscow/Berlin, 12 April 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Ukraine’s president worked on Tuesday to remind his Western allies that their help was needed to ward off Russia’s invasion, even as his Russian counterpart said he saw the invasion going to plan and expected all his goals to be achieved.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said part of the problem was that Europe seemed unwilling to put greater pressure on Russia, despite growing evidence of Russian war crimes as its forces retreated toward the country’s eastern border in recent weeks.

“Some EU states cannot commit to when they will at least noticeably restrict the purchase of Russian energy sources,” Zelensky said during an address to the Lithuanian parliament.

The war in Ukraine raises a strategic question for Europe, he said.

“Are the values that became the basis of Europe after World War II still alive? Or have the values already played their role and can at most still serve as exhibits in museums for tourists?” he said.

Zelensky also accused Russian troops of deporting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia to silence them in the face of war crimes committed by Russian soldiers.

“They are taken to special camps. Their documents are taken from them, they are interrogated, humiliated. How many they kill is unknown,” he said. While similar accusations have been made, they have not been independently verified.

The invasion began on February 24. Russian President Vladimir Putin says it was necessary to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, but most analysts think that he simply wants to crush a Western-leaning Ukraine that would exemplify a lifestyle that would undermine support for Putin’s rule in Russia.

Putin on Tuesday reiterated that he is confident of victory in Ukraine and that the goals of what he has called a “special operation” will be achieved.

“There is no doubt about that,” Putin said, claiming he had no alternative to invade Ukraine and that the operation served to guarantee Russian security. “We had no other choice.”

He also lashed out at the war crimes allegations, particularly those involving Bucha, where Ukrainians say hundreds of bodies were found after Russian forces left. Putin said those charges were “provocations” and “fake.”

Amid the back and forth, the fighting continued, on multiple fronts, as fresh charges of Russian cyberattacks emerged, allegedly targeting Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure.

The Russian military claimed on Tuesday that it had launched strikes on 32 military targets in Ukraine during the night.

A Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile system as well as an ammunition depot and an aircraft hangar with Ukrainian air force technology were destroyed, among other targets, the spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, said.

The authorities also reported fierce night-time fighting in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. “The remnants of the Ukrainian armed forces trapped on the territory of the Ilyich plant [iron and steel works] made an unsuccessful attempt to break out of the city,” said Konashenkov.

According to him, around 100 Ukrainian soldiers attempted to break out; half of them were killed. This information was initially not independently verifiable.

Russian troops are planning to advance to the administrative borders of Donetsk in eastern Ukrainian in their offensive on the region, Ukrainian and British sources said on Tuesday.

Russia will seek to capture the heavily besieged city of Mariupol as well as Popasna, a small town in the Luhansk region, according to the Ukrainian General Staff. An attack on Kurakhove is to be launched from there, it said.

Moscow is currently completing the deployment of Russian troops to the Russian regions of Belgorod and Voronezh near the border, it said.

Meanwhile the British Defence Ministry said it expects fighting in eastern Ukraine to intensify in the next two or three weeks. Russian attacks remain focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk with further fighting likely around Kherson and Mykolaiv and a renewed push towards Kramatorsk.

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