The U.S. has ultimately decided to send MLRS weapons, which are capable of hitting Russian territory, but only with Ukraine's promise not to launch the rockets across the border. But will this eliminate the risk of the war escalating into a direct confrontation between the U.S. and Russia?
After circling around the issue, President Joe Biden finally has finally decided that he would send more advanced weapons, including longer-range Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to Ukraine as part of a $700 million package.
The move to send MLRS weapons, which are capable of hitting Russian territory, has been under discussion for a number of days. Reports on Tuesday indicated that Biden had reversed an earlier promise to send the rocket systems. Ukraine has pressed Biden for weeks to provide the weapons as Russia escalated relentless artillery attacks in the east of the country. With Tuesday night’s announcement, Ukraine has promised not to launch the rockets into Russia, allaying fears of an escalation of the conflict.
Russia has been warning the U.S. against sending MLRS rockets to Ukraine, with Russia’s ambassador tothe U.S. Anatoly Antonov saying earlier this week: "There is a risk that such equipment will be placed near Russia's borders and Ukrainians will be able to strike at Russian cities. Such a situation is unacceptable and intolerable for us."
Meanwhile,Russian state TV had warned that the US was “crossing a red line” by sending the rockets. It remains to be seen how Moscow reacts to Ukraine’s vow not to fire the weapons across the border into Russia, and how long that promise will be maintained.
When Great Powers Are In Decline, And Looking For A Fight
U.S. President Joe Biden salutes South Korean military leadership at Osan airbase during a two day visit to South Korea.
Writing for Argentine daily Clarin, Juan Corradi takes two steps back from the fighting on the ground to see the larger forces at play in Ukraine, especially as the U.S. and Russia are at closer risk of direct confrontation than they’ve been since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
“Some analysts have warned that a power in decline, which Russia manifestly is, can react in extreme ways if cornered. They forget that from its earliest history, Russia was destined to be powerful and to be seen as such. The same could be said about the United States. The sides are ramping up their belligerence (using Europe as a battering ram), but only to conceal a quiet retreat. Both have lost several wars and China has caught up with them.” Read more here
Top Putin Ally: Contested Areas Of Donbas Will Become Part Of Russia
Donbas region destroyed by shelling
So if it conquers Donbas, what are Russia’s ultimate plans with the contested eastern region of Ukraine? Andriy Turchak, leader of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia political party, used an interview with state news agency RIA Novosti, to offer a stark response to that question:
The Kherson region, and the territories within the borders of the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics, in the southeastern Donbas region, will simply become part of Russia, the same will happen with the Zaporozhye region, where a referendum should be held as soon as the situation allows.
Russian Troops Closing In On Downtown Severodonetsk
Severodonetsk under heavy shelling.
Russian forces are closing in on the city center of Severodonetsk – if they succeed in capturing it, this would be a major victory for Moscow’s efforts in eastern Ukraine. The neighboring city of Lysychansk will then be the only urban area of any size in Luhansk to remain under Ukrainian control.
By late Tuesday, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, Serhiy Haidai, said that most of the city was under Russian control, and that all critical infrastructure in Severodonetsk has been destroyed. “The city at this stage has 90% of all houses damaged. Of these, 60% are almost impossible to restore. And all the critical infrastructure is completely destroyed,” he said.
Zelensky Reports 60-100 Troop Deaths Each Day
Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky in Kharkiv
In an interview with Newsmax, Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky spoke about the number of troop deaths. “The situation in the east of Ukraine is very difficult. We are losing 60 to 100 soldiers every day and something like 500 wounded in combat,” he said. The total number of Ukrainian military losses is unclear.
Russian losses are largely unknown too. According to an investigation by iStories, as reported by the Moscow Times, more than 3,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine after more than three months of conflict. Although the number is an estimate, it is certainly higher than the official figures reported by the Russian Defense Ministry. They last announced their military losses a month ago, which then stood at 1,351 killed troops.
Mother Of French Journalist Killed Responds To Russian Claims About Her Son
French television reporter Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff was killed by shrapnel Monday as he was traveling near the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, the eighth journalist killed since the Russian invasion began.
But Russian news agency Tass quoted a pro-Russian separatist leader who claimed that Leclerc-Imhoff was not a journalist, but a “mercenary involved in the delivery of arms to the armed forces.”
Now, the mother of Leclerc-Imhoff has publicly responded to these remarks via BFMTV, the network where her son worked.
“I am the mother of the young journalist you killed yesterday. Your press release makes me sick to my stomach. Of course you are cowardly trying to clear yourselves, but you should know that you will never succeed in sullying his memory. Everyone here knows his professional and personal commitment to democracy, human respect, and above all free, impartial and honest information – all notions that seem far removed from what drives you.”
She also expressed empathy for other mothers who have lost their children. “Today, my thoughts are with all the Ukrainian mothers who are crying for their children, all the Ukrainian children who are crying for their parents, and all the Russian mothers who saw their young people leave too soon to become soldiers, who will not see them again and who are wondering why.”
Why Isn’t Austria Following Lead Of Finland And Sweden Into NATO?
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a joint press conference following bilateral discussions
While Sweden and Finland are fast-tracking NATO applications, Austrians continus to cling to the country’s longstanding "neutrality" status. Writing in Berlin-based Die Welt, Austrian-born writer Anna Schneider calls out her country for “sleepwalking” through the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Read the piece here in English.
Ukrainian Refugee Sees Her Looted Possessions In Photo Of Russian Tank
A Ukrainian refugee in the UK says she has proof that Russian troops looted her home after she fled. The evidence comes in the form a photograph of a Russian tank rolling through Alina Koreniuk’s hometown of Popasna, carrying her possessions, including blankets and a new boiler she’d planned to install before being forced to escape by the invasion of the Russian army.
Koreniuk and her children left Ukraine on 8 April and are staying with a British couple in Nottinghamshire.