Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced that he will meet with two senior US officials in Kyiv on Sunday.
Zelenskyy gave few details about the logistics of his talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the 60th day since Russia invaded Ukraine.
But he told reporters he expects results – “not just gifts or cakes, we expect certain things and certain weapons.”
The visit to Kyiv by senior US officials would be the first since the invasion began on February 24.
During his visit to Poland in March, Mr Blinken briefly set foot on Ukrainian soil to meet with the country’s foreign minister.
The meeting was to take place while Ukrainians and Russians were celebrating Orthodox Easter, an occasion Mr. Zelensky pointed out the allegorical meaning of Easter in his late-night address to the people of his country after nearly two months of war.
“There will be a resurrection. Life will conquer death. The truth will conquer all lies. And evil will be punished,” he said. “And Russia will have to learn these truths again, it’s only a matter of time.”
Russia has been attempting to take Mariupol for nearly two months, and the Sea of Azov city has endured some of the worst hardships of the war.
Its capture would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, free up Russian troops to fight elsewhere, and establish a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow captured in 2014.
About 2,000 soldiers have been fighting doggedly to hold the last Ukrainian outpost in the city, the Azovstal Steel Works, whose labyrinthine tunnel system is also home to civilians.
Russian forces have continued to ravage the plant, hitting it with airstrikes including from long-haul aircraft, said Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesman for the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Sunday.
On the last day, Russia also stepped up attacks elsewhere in the eastern Donbass region, where Moscow-backed separatists controlled some areas before the war and the Russians are aiming to seize full control of Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.
Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said Sunday that a Russian barrage on Saturday killed eight and wounded two others.
The Russians also shelled the Dnipro region west of the Donbass, where at least one person was killed by a Russian missile, according to regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko.
Russia has withdrawn troops from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and the north of the country to feed into the Donbass offensive, but Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday Ukrainian troops have repelled numerous attacks over the past week.
“Although Russia has made some territorial gains, Ukrainian resistance has been strong on all axes and inflicted significant costs on Russian forces,” the ministry said in an intelligence update.
“Poor Russian morale and limited time to recover, re-equip and reorganize forces from previous offensives are likely to hamper Russian combat effectiveness,” it said.
Ukraine’s military said Saturday it had destroyed a Russian command post in Kherson, a southern city that fell to Russian forces earlier in the war.
The command post was hit on Friday, killing two generals and seriously wounding another, Ukraine’s military intelligence said in a statement. The Russian military did not comment on the claim, which could not be confirmed.
More than 100,000 people are believed to remain in Mariupol, up from a pre-war population of about 430,000, with scarce food, water or warmth. Ukrainian authorities estimate that over 20,000 civilians were killed in the city.
Another attempt to evacuate women, children and older adults from Mariupol failed on Saturday.
Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor, said Russian forces did not allow buses organized by Ukraine to take residents to Zaporizhia, a town 141 miles northwest.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/ukraines-president-set-to-meet-us-officials-in-kyiv-41582522.html President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with US officials in Kyiv, Ukraine