Two key points in the past 24 hours offer a sense that the war in Ukraine won’t be ending anytime soon. From Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed an unprecedented $33-billion military and humanitarian aid package to Kyiv. Such a financial commitment, which Biden acknowledged was “not cheap,” is part of a shift from the U.S. over the past 10 days to massive support for President Volodomyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian military, in an effort to defeat Russia on the battlefield.
“The high dollar amount requested also sends a signal to Russia that the United States intends to back Ukraine in the fight for the long run,” writes U.S. news site Politico. “It will also likely boost Ukrainians who say they want to defeat Russia, not merely settle for a long-term stalemate.”
The second bit of perspective on the conflict came from NATO, whose Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was speaking Thursday at a youth summit in Brussels: "We need to be prepared for the long term," Stoltenberg said. "There is absolutely the possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years."
Yes, this may be the week where we understood the Ukraine war will last for years.
Sweden And Finland Press Ahead With NATO MembershipFile:Flag of NATO.svg - Wikimedia Commons commons.wikimedia.org
Finland and Sweden are moving closer to joining NATO as early as this summer, ahead of a summit by military alliance at the end of June. On Friday, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Anderrson announced that if Parliament voted to join NATO, the issue would not be put to the public.
“I don’t think it is an issue suitable for a referendum,” she told reporters, pointing out that national security information is often confidential and that important facts can’t be shared with the public.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that the United States “strongly supports” Sweden and Finland should they decide to seek membership.
Both Sweden and Finland (which shares a border with Russia) have been reassessing long-held beliefs about not provoking Moscow with NATO membership in the wake of the Ukraine invasion. Public support for joining the military alliance increased dramatically following the invasion. A majority of Finns and Swedes now support membership.
Moscow has been vocal in opposing the Nordic countries NATO accession, with Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov calling it an “existential threat” to the country.
Journalist Killed In Kyiv Missile Strike During Guterres Visit
Radio Liberty reported Friday that one of its journalists was killed during Russia’s missile strike in Kyiv that coincided with the visit of UN Secretary General António Guterres.
Vera Gyrych, a veteran of Radio Liberty (also known as Radio Free Europe, a U.S.-funded organization) was at her home when the missile hit her building.
Ukrainian officials said 10 people were also injured by two Russian missiles that had struck the capital as Guterres met for talks with UkrainianPresident Volodomyr Zelensky.
The attack, Zelensky said, is new evidence of “Russia’s true attitude to global institutions, about the efforts of the Russian leadership to humiliate the UN and everything that the organization represents.”
Ukraine Launches High-Risk Operation To Evacuate Civilians From Mariupol
Ukraine said it was launching a high-risk evacuation Friday of some of the last surviving civilians in the besieged southern city of Mariupol.
Several thousand soldiers and civilians have been holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in the city’s port area, considered the last bastion of the Ukrainian resistance. The evacuation of civilians from Mariuopol was high on the agenda of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during his past two days of visits to Moscow and Kyiv.
Ukrainian University Students Forced To Donate Blood To Wounded Russian Soldiers
Russian authorities in Ukraine’s occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are forcing university students to donate blood for wounded Russian soldiers, reports Kyiv-based news outlet Livy Bereg on Friday.
Lyudmila Denisova, the Verkhovna Rada Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, said that there have been around 700 cases of such forced blood donations, which she says are a violation of the Geneva Conventions on wartime protocol.
Denisova had already reported that Russia had plans to force Ukrainian prisoners of war to donate blood for the wounded Russian soldiers.
Front page of Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza as the gas crisis sparked by Russian demands that its energy exports be paid for in rubles.
Russia Deploys Dolphins In Crimea Port
Satellite images appear to show dolphin pens at Sevastopol Bay in Crimea
Moscow has deployed trained dolphins at the entrance to a key port of Sevastopol in the Black Sea. The use of the sea mammals would be to protect a naval base from potential Ukrainian attacks, according to a review of satellite images by the commercial firm Maxar and U.S. naval institute.
The dolphins would prevent Ukrainian divers from infiltrating the harbor from underwater and sabotaging ships there. Their deep-diving abilities as well as their sonar communication system makes these dolphins more effective than any technological advancement.
Since the Cold War, both Russia and the U.S. have deployed marine mammals to carry out underwater searches.
Wagner Group Step Up Mercenary Recruitment With Higher Pay, Lower Standards
Russia’s controversial Wagner Group mercenary outfit is believed to already have between 10,000 and 20,000 troops in Ukraine, mostly in the eastern Donbas region. But now, the organization, run by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, is multiplying its recruiting efforts to hire new mercenaries to fight in Ukraine
French-daily Le Figaro reports that Wagner is turning to social media, in particular the Russian Telegram channel, to find new recruits with both higher salaries and lower standard requirements to join. Monthly salaries have increased from about 1,900 euros to 2,800 euros and would-be mercenaries no longer have to meet special physical or psychological requirements. “We don’t look at teeth,” one advertisement says.
At the same time, the Wagner Group is particularly eager for sign-ups with specific skills, for example, professional drone pilots.
A Ceramic Rooster That Survived Russian Bombs Becomes Ukrainian War Icon
The kitchen cabinet with a ceramic rooster survived intense Russian bombing in the northern Ukrainian town of Borodyanka in the early days of the war. We know about it from a photograph by Elizaveta Servatynska that showed the surviving kitchen cabinet — a picture that went viral on the Ukrainian internet.
Now the rooster will become part of the Museum Fund of Ukraine, after the Cultural Heritage Headquarters officers dismantled a portion of the wall and the rooster that was designed by artists Valery and Nadiya Protoriev, and handed it over to the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity.
The kitchen cabinet survived in #Borodyanka during the devastating bombing.
A ceramic decorative rooster at the top is a product of the Vasylkiv Pottery of the late 1950s. Vasylkiv ceramics (majolica) is a Ukrainian cultural heritage from the recent past.#Ukraine #majolica pic.twitter.com/5UL4yY1JyI
— we believe 🇺🇦 (@we_believe_win) April 22, 2022
The surrounding area and the ruins of the buildings were also documented, with the help of a drone, to create 3D models. Thanks to detailed photography and video, the location of each detail has been recorded, which in the future will allow to recreate the location and environment in the museum with maximum accuracy.