Ukraine is pushing NATO for guns as Moscow faces more sanctions over alleged atrocities

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Ukraine is pressing NATO for more weapons as Russia is expected to reposition its forces before launching a major offensive in southeastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met NATO foreign ministers and Group of Seven ministers in Brussels on April 7, who pledged “additional restrictive measures” towards Russia and “readiness to provide further support, including with military equipment and financial means.” to allow Ukraine to defend itself against Russian aggression and rebuild Ukraine.”

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The G7, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, also condemned “in the strongest possible terms” what it was committing Russia’s “atrocities” in the city of Bucha and other areas of Ukraine.

“Haunting images of dead civilians, victims of torture and apparent executions, as well as reports of sexual violence and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, show the true colors of Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine and its people,” said the G7 foreign ministers it said in a joint statement on April 7th.

“The massacres in the city of Bucha and other Ukrainian cities are added to the list of atrocities and serious violations of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights, committed by the attacker on Ukrainian soil,” he added.

Kuleba said he and G7 ministers discussed how to take military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine to the next level.

“Ukraine proposes a fair deal: the world grants us all the support we need, we fight and we defeat [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in Ukraine he said on Twitter after the meeting in Brussels.

Kuleba called for NATO allies to send more aircraft, air defense systems, missiles and military vehicles.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels that Washington will allow nothing to stop Ukraine from supplying more of the weapons it needs to fight Russia.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said NATO was discussing how to increase its aid to Ukraine with “various military weapons”.

“We are looking closely with our partners at how we can support Ukraine more intensively and in a coordinated manner in the future, because it has a right to self-defense and we will support this right to self-defense together with various partners,” she said at the NATO meeting.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Ukraine of derailing talks with Russia by changing its negotiating position. He accused Ukraine of withdrawing its proposal that international guarantees for its security should not apply to Crimea.

Russia illegally annexed the Black Sea Peninsula in 2014 and wants Ukraine to recognize Moscow’s sovereignty over it.

Lavrov also accused Ukraine of changing a provision in a previously presented draft agreement that said military exercises could be organized on Ukrainian territory with the consent of all guarantor countries, including Russia.

However, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed Lavrov’s claims, saying Lavrov was not directly involved in the negotiations and that his remarks were “of purely propaganda importance”.

Podolyak told Reuters that Moscow is trying to divert attention from the events in Bucha.

“That’s how statements like this should be viewed,” he said.

Russia is facing its most difficult situation in three decades because of unprecedented Western sanctions, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on April 7.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that despite the waves of sanctions already imposed on Russia, the West needs to further tighten sanctions while ending Russian oil and gas imports to force Moscow to end its aggression.

Economic concerns should not be placed above punishment for civilian killings, which the West condemns as “war crimes,” he said.

“We can teach Russia and all other potential aggressors once and for all that those who choose war always lose,” Zelenskyy said in a speech to the Greek parliament. “Those who blackmail Europe with economic and energy crises always lose.”

Washington announced new measures on April 6, including sanctions on Putin’s two adult daughters and a major bank. However, the European Union failed to approve a new round of measures on April 6, including a ban on Russian coal imports, although Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, said the package could come either later on April 7 or on April 8. to be adopted in April.

WATCH: Current Time asked people in several cities across Russia, “Have you heard about the Ukrainian city of Bucha?” Many echoed the Kremlin’s line that images of atrocities were “fake.” However, some Russians expressed shock, calling the killings “terrible,” while others were too scared to share their true feelings.

At the April 7 NATO meeting, Borrell also said the EU would discuss an embargo on Russian oil, possibly on April 11.

The pressure to hit Moscow harder follows international condemnation of apparent executions of civilians on the streets of Bucha.

Local officials say that in Bucha alone more than 300 people have been killed by Russian forces and about 50 of them have been executed. Moscow denies the allegations.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he called Russia’s ambassador in Paris on an “obscene” tweet that tried to fake the Bucha massacre.

“In light of the obscene and provocative statement by the Russian embassy in France about the Bucha atrocities, I have decided to summon the Russian ambassador,” France’s top diplomat said in a tweet on April 7.

After withdrawing from areas near Kyiv, Russian forces are now regrouping to take full control of the eastern breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukrainian officials say. The besieged southern port of Mariupol, where more than 100,000 civilians are still trapped, according to its mayor, was also a target.

“Evacuate! The chances of saving yourself and your family from Russian death are dwindling every day,” said Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Lugansk region.

WATCH: The village of Borodyanka, 50 kilometers from Kyiv, was badly damaged by Russian airstrikes. According to Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, the situation with civilian casualties is worst in Borodyanka. Collapsed buildings have not been cleared and the number of victims has not yet been determined. RFE/RL Ukraine service reporter Levko Stek listened to locals’ stories about what Russian troops were doing in the city.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that 10 evacuation corridors were agreed on April 7, but Mariupol residents would need their own vehicles to walk.

The US Senate planned to pass legislation on April 7 to end normal trade relations with Russia and codify President Joe Biden’s executive action to ban imports of Russian oil. The trade suspension would allow Biden to impose higher tariffs on certain Russian imports.

The United States and the United Kingdom on April 6 boycotted an informal UN Security Council meeting convened by Russia to air its unsubstantiated claims that the US has biological warfare laboratories in Ukraine.

But the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said on April 6 that his allies need to go further.

“Sanctions against Russia must be ruinous enough to end this terrible war,” he said. “My goal is to impose an embargo on the supply of dual-use technology, equipment, minerals and ores (and) rare earths to Russia, thereby halting arms production in Russia.”

With reports from AFP, Reuters, AP and dpa

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