Ukrainian War, Day 60: Zelenskiy’s Underground Press Conference
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks to reporters in an underground room at a kyiv metro station on April 23, 2022.
Will Ukraine unite a divided America? (Nope.)
Saturday cover: Russia threatens the south and neighboring Moldova
Dozens of civilian victims of massacres in Bucha, northwest of kyiv, were killed by tiny metal arrows, darts, fired from shells used by Russian artillery units.
Pathologists and coroners said the darts were embedded in the victims’ heads and chests.
Each tank or field gun shell can hold up to 8,000 darts, which scatter in a conical arch approximately 300m wide and 100m long.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is “extremely concerned” after several of its Ukrainian employees were apparently arrested in Russian proxy areas in eastern Ukraine.
The OSCE is extremely concerned that a number of @OSCE_SMM members of the national mission have been deprived of their liberty in Donetsk and Luhansk and is using all available channels to facilitate their release.
— OSCE (@OSCE) April 23, 2022
Russian proxy security services in the Lugansk region said this month they had arrested two OSCE members. According to the Russian state newspaper TASS, one of them “confessed” to having transmitted “confidential military information to representatives of foreign special services”, leading an investigation for high treason.
UPDATE 1508 GMT:
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said the number of Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion was 5,186,744.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration estimates that more than 7.7 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine.
The total of around 14 million IDPs or refugees represents almost a third of Ukraine’s population of 44 million. Almost two thirds of Ukrainian children have had to flee their homes.
The majority of refugees – nearly 2.9 million – went to Poland.
UPDATE 1125 GMT:
In his Easter message, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said: “Today’s great holiday gives us great hope and unshakeable faith that light will overcome darkness, good will overcome evil, life will overcome death, and therefore Ukraine will surely win”.
Speaking at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv, he continued:
The Lord and the holy heavenly light are on our side. We are going through very difficult times. Let’s come to a just end on this path, the beginning of a happy life and prosperity of Ukraine.
At Easter, we ask God for a great grace to make our dream come true. This is another great day, the day when great peace will come to Ukraine.
UPDATE 0800 GMT:
Switzerland has suspended the delivery of German infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, blocking the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition, according to Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung.
The Marder armored vehicle uses the ammunition, but Switzerland limits the re-export of war material to conflict zones.
UPDATE 0755 GMT:
Ukraine’s attorney general’s office said the Russian invasion killed 213 children and injured 389.
The toll does not include casualties from besieged areas such as Mariupol.
UPDATE 0745 GMT:
The Ukrainian army claims that 21,800 Russian soldiers were killed during the invasion.
Last week, a pro-Kremlin outlet, citing the Russian Defense Ministry, gave the figures of 13,414 soldiers killed and 7,000 missing. His report was quickly deleted.
The Ukrainian army also claimed heavy Russian losses of armour, warplanes and ships.
These are indicative estimates of Russia’s combat casualties as of April 24, according to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. pic.twitter.com/iUOV7RaDle
— Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) April 24, 2022
UPDATE 0625 GMT:
Turkey has closed its airspace to Russian planes flying to Syria.
The step is a significant limit to a 2016 agreement between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, establishing freedom of military action for each side in their respective spheres of influence amid 11 years of conflict in Syria.
See also Article on Turkey: Erdogan and Putin pledge to renew Turkish-Russian ties
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said he informed his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov: “We have closed the airspace to Russian military – and even civilian – planes flying to Syria. They had until April, and we asked in March.
Four days after the February 24 invasion, Turkey closes the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Strait to Russian warships.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: In both a symbolic and political event, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy held a clandestine press conference in Kyiv.
Saturday’s conference showed the defiance and immediate defeat of the Russian invasion, nearly two months after Vladimir Putin failed to seize the capital and arrest or kill Ukrainian leaders. But it also presented Zelenskiy’s message that more weapons are needed to defeat Russian efforts to seize territory in the east and south of the country.
More than 200 journalists were summoned to the Khreshchatyk metro station, descending several hundred meters into a Soviet-era hall for the Independence Square stop. The president spoke from a silver dais, in front of a Ukrainian flag and trident, as trains passed the rally.
The president arrived at 7:30 p.m. local time, flanked by Ukrainian commandos. It was Zelenskiy’s biggest media event since Moscow promised in February to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine. The Kremlin’s plan to seize kyiv in days has failed and has now turned into an endless war of conquest.
It was held a day before the arrival in Kyiv of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first visit by senior US officials since the February 24 invasion.
Zelenskiy said the US and UK had provided the “best military support”, but the new phase of the war required action on an “armaments list” he will present to the Americans. The military equipment will allow Ukraine to retake the areas occupied by Russia.
He praised European leaders who have come to Kyiv for meetings and to see evidence of Russia’s war crimes, including civilian massacres, and added hope that US President Joe Biden will visit once that the security situation will allow the trip. However, Zelenskiy He said Ukraine does not need “tragic selfies”, but planes and tanks.
“A war for the freedom of Ukraine”
When asked if illness could have prompted Putin to order the invasion, Zelenskiy replied:
The Russian Federation has always wanted something like this to happen. Many Russians do not believe that we are independent. We are trying to repel an encroaching invasion. We fight for the right to live. This is a war for the freedom of Ukraine.
He said of the Russian military, citing its killing of civilians, including women and children, and its widespread rape: “They are Russian Nazis. They will forever be written in the history books as barbarians.
The president referred to Saturday’s attack by five Russian missiles on Odessa in southern Ukraine, killing eight people and injuring 18. Among the dead was a three-month-old baby.
Try to enter it. The war started when the child was a month old. They are pure bastards. They are monsters. It’s horrible. They do not care.
In another Russian attack on Saturday, six civilians were killed in the village of Girske in the Lugansk region of eastern Ukraine.
Zelenskiy also mentioned Russia’s ongoing “monstrous” siege and bombardment of around 100,000 people trapped in Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine. Noting the latest attacks on the Azovstal steel plant, the main area of resistance, he said kyiv had offered to exchange the 1,000 civilians trapped inside for captured Russian servicemen; however, the Kremlin had refused offers of “pragmatic dialogue”.
The president added that if Russia kills Mariupol defenders or conducts an “independence” referendum in the occupied areas of southern Ukraine, he will suspend peace talks.
“How did she threaten Russia?”
In his late-night video address to the nation, Zelenskiy again cited Russia’s killings in Odessa, asking about the slain three-month-old girl, “How did she threaten Russia?”
He noted confirmation of mass graves to bury civilians killed in Mariupol, saying, “We are talking about tens of thousands of dead…residents.”
And he referred to Russian “filtration camps,” where Ukrainian citizens are taken to be forcibly transferred to Russia, likening them to Nazi concentration camps.