Live Updates: West Works to Put Ukraine Pledges Into Action
Civilians continued evacuating from Mariupol with accounts of life under siege. A senior U.S. diplomat warned that Russia appeared to be preparing to annex two regions in eastern Ukraine and possibly a third in the south.
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- Zaporizhzhia, UkraineLynsey Addario for The New York Times
- Kharkiv, UkraineTyler Hicks/The New York Times
- Irpin, UkraineDavid Guttenfelder for The New York Times
- Moshchun, UkraineDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times
- Kharkiv, UkraineTyler Hicks/The New York Times
- Lviv, UkraineFinbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times
- Zaporizhzhia, UkraineLynsey Addario for The New York Times
- Irpin, UkraineDavid Guttenfelder for The New York Times
- Kharkiv, UkraineTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Video00:001:441:44Ukrainians Fleeing Fighting in the East Arrive in ZaporizhzhiaCivilians displaced from the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol and other areas of eastern Ukraine crossed the frontline into Zaporizhzhia in the country’s southeast.CreditCredit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — Ukrainian civilians evacuated from the ruined city of Mariupol carried with them fresh accounts of survival and terror on Monday as Western nations worked to turn their increasingly expansive promises of aid into action, preparing billions of dollars in military and economic assistance, an oil embargo and other once-unthinkable steps.
Despite early-morning shelling, the halting evacuation, overseen by the Red Cross and the United Nations, was seen as the best and possibly last hope for hundreds of civilians who have been trapped for weeks in bunkers beneath the wreckage of the Azovstal steel plant, and an unknown number who are scattered around the ruins of the mostly abandoned city.
Those who had been trapped in Mariupol outside the steel mill described a fragile existence, subsisting on Russian rations cooked outside on wood fires amid daily shelling that left corpses lying in debris.
Yelena Gibert, a psychologist who reached Ukrainian-held territory with her teenage son on Monday, described “hopelessness and despair” in Mariupol, and said residents were “starting to talk of suicide because they’re stuck in this situation.”
Heavy fighting in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions has yielded minimal gains for the forces of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Western officials say. But the Russians continued to fire rockets and shells at Ukrainian military positions, cities, towns and infrastructure along a 300-mile-long front, including bombarding the Azovstal plant, where the last remaining Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol are hunkered down.
On Monday, Ukraine said it had used Turkish-made drones to destroy two Russian patrol vessels off the Black Sea port of Odesa, just before Russian missiles struck the city, causing an unknown number of casualties and damage to a religious building.
The U.S. State Department said that Russia’s war aims now include annexing Donetsk and Luhansk — partially controlled before the Feb. 24 invasion by Russia-backed separatists — as soon as mid-May, and possibly the southern Kherson region as well.
“We believe that the Kremlin may try to hold sham referenda to try to add a veneer of democratic or electoral legitimacy, and this is straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook,” Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told reporters at a State Department briefing in Washington.
As the war drags on and evidence of atrocities mounts, the West’s appetite has grown for retaliation that would have been rejected out of hand a few months ago. The U.S. Senate is preparing to take up President Biden’s $33 billion aid package for Ukraine, including a significant increase in heavy weaponry, and the European Union is expected this week to impose an embargo on Russian oil, a significant step for a bloc whose members have long depended on Russian energy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, days after becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Kyiv since the war began, met in Warsaw with President Andrzej Duda of Poland on Monday, in an effort to strengthen Washington’s partnership with a key NATO ally that has absorbed millions of Ukrainian refugees and helped funnel arms to the battlefield.
Ms. Pelosi called for the “strongest possible military response, the strongest sanctions” to punish Russia for the invasion, despite Moscow’s threats of retaliation against the West. “They have already delivered on their threat that killed children and families, civilians and the rest,” she said.
More than two months into the invasion, Russia is struggling to capture and hold territory, according to a senior Pentagon official who briefed reporters on background to discuss intelligence. The official called Russia’s latest offensive in eastern Ukraine, the region known as Donbas, “very cautious, very tepid” and, in some cases, “anemic.”
“We see minimal progress at best,” the official said on Monday, citing incremental Russian advances in towns and villages. “They’ll move in, declare victory, then withdraw their troops, only to let the Ukrainians take it.”
Britain’s defense intelligence agency said that of the 120 battalion tactical groups Russia had used during the war — roughly 65 percent of its entire ground combat forces — more than a quarter had likely been “rendered combat ineffective.”
Some of Russia’s most elite units, including its Airborne Forces, have “suffered the highest levels of attrition,” the British assessment said, adding that it would “probably take years for Russia to reconstitute these forces.”
As the fighting raged in eastern and southern Ukraine, Moscow on Monday faced a growing diplomatic backlash after the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said that Jews were “the biggest antisemites.”
Mr. Lavrov made the remarks on Sunday to an Italian television journalist who had asked him why Russia claimed to be “denazifying” Ukraine when its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was Jewish and members of his family had been killed in the Holocaust.
Mr. Lavrov replied that he thought Hitler himself had Jewish roots, a claim dismissed by historians, and added, “For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest antisemites are the Jews themselves.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to Israel to explain Mr. Lavrov’s remarks, while Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, demanded an apology. The Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, said of Mr. Lavrov’s remarks, “The goal of such lies is to accuse the Jews themselves of the most awful crimes in history, which were perpetrated against them.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader and highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States, called Mr. Lavrov’s comments “disgusting.”
Those who escaped Mariupol and reached the southern city of Zaporizhzhia had managed to survive in a Russian-occupied city crushed by intense shelling, where Ukrainian officials say more than 20,000 civilians have been killed. About 20 civilians who were sheltering under the Azovstal mill got out of the city on Saturday, about 100 did so on Sunday and an unknown number followed on Monday.
Every morning at about 6 a.m., Ms. Gibert said, residents outside the plant lined up for rations handed out by Russian soldiers. First, they had to listen to the Russian national anthem and then to the anthem of the separatist Ukrainian region known as the Donetsk People’s Republic, she said.
A number was scrawled on the hand of each resident there, and then they waited, sometimes all day, to receive boxes of food, Ms. Gibert said. Inside a typical ration box was macaroni, rice, oatmeal, canned meat, sweet and condensed milk, sugar, butter. It was supposed to last a month, but didn’t always — especially when shared with a teenage boy, Ms. Gibert said.
In a city where many residential buildings have been destroyed and the remainder lacked power, heat or, much of the time, running water, Ms. Gibert said she and her son were among the lucky ones.
“Our apartment is still partially intact,” she said. “On one side, we have all our windows.”
Anastasiya Dembitskaya, 35, who reached Zaporizhzhia with her two children and a dog, said a drop in fighting in Mariupol over the past few weeks had allowed spotty telephone service to return and small markets to open, selling food from Russia and Russian-controlled Ukrainian territory at stratospheric prices.
“They’ve begun to at least remove the trash, which is good,” Ms. Dembitskaya said. “The bodies and the trash and the wires that were lying everywhere.”
Ksenia Safonova, who also arrived in Zaporizhzhia, said that she and her parents had wanted to leave Mariupol weeks ago but were pinned down by rocket fire.
“When we tried to leave, intense shelling started,” she said. “Everything was exploding. Jets were flying overhead and it was too scary to leave.”
When food became scarce, she said, her family relied on rations handed out by the Russian troops. She pulled out a can of preserved meat that she said was part of a Russian humanitarian aid package. Its expiration date was Jan. 31, nearly a month before the invasion began.
Ms. Safonova and her family were finally able to leave Mariupol on April 26 in a minibus with six other people. At checkpoints on the way to Zaporizhzhia, she said, Russian soldiers insulted her and her family, warning that Ukrainian forces would not welcome them and might shell them when they arrived.
Once, she said, the soldiers tried to trick them into revealing their loyalty to Ukraine.
“At one checkpoint they yelled ‘Glory to Ukraine,’ to see whether we would yell, ‘Glory to the heroes,’ though, of course, we knew that would end badly,” she said, referring to a patriotic greeting among Ukrainians that has become widespread during the war.
“We still know truth is on our side,” she said.
Michael Schwirtz reported from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, and Michael Levenson from New York. Reporting was contributed by Lara Jakes and Eric Schmitt from Washington, Myra Noveck from Jerusalem, Marc Santora from Krakow, Poland, Monika Pronczuk from Brussels and Matthew Mpoke Bigg from London.Show more1 hour ago
Denmark has become the latest of several countries to reopen its embassy in Kyiv. The Swedish embassy plans to return on Wednesday and the U.S. embassy hopes to return by the end of May, said Kristina Kvien, the acting U.S. ambassador.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1521233337972580352&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2Flive%2F2022%2F05%2F02%2Fworld%2Fukraine-russia-war-news&sessionId=badab16cb520f5de20988a97d850aa0c31c92814&siteScreenName=nytimes&theme=light&widgetsVersion=c8fe9736dd6fb%3A1649830956492&width=550px
WASHINGTON — Russia appears to be preparing to annex two regions in eastern Ukraine and possibly a third in the country’s south, a senior American diplomat said on Monday, citing “highly credible” reports of Moscow’s plans.
Michael Carpenter, the American ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said that the Kremlin would likely stage “sham” elections in the Russian-backed separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in mid-May to formally seize control of both.
The ambassador would not specify the origin of these reports or how he was able to make such a prediction.
A similar referendum in Kherson, in southern Ukraine, could follow, he said. The Russian language is dominant in all three areas.
“This is straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook,” Mr. Carpenter told reporters at the State Department on Monday.
He said it was not certain that Russia would ultimately move to annex any of the regions, much less be successful in doing so, but that “this is the planning that we are seeing.”
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia recognized the independence of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic a few days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in late February. Moscow-backed separatists in the regions have been fighting against Ukrainian forces since 2014.
Mr. Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 just hours after 97 percent of voters in a referendum there approved seceding from Ukraine. The vote was criticized as fraudulent, and much of the world has since refused to recognize Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.
Mr. Carpenter said it was also possible that Russia’s leaders would try to take over other parts of Ukraine, by imposing “puppets and proxies” in local governments and forcing out democratically elected officials. He said that this had appeared to be Moscow’s initial aim in Kyiv — a plan that included installing a new constitution in Ukraine — but that Russian forces had been forced to drop back to the country’s east and south after they were unable to take the capital.
Now, he said, Moscow appears intent on imposing its school curriculum, currency and local leadership in areas where Russian forces are suspected of abducting political opponents, educators and journalists, and cutting off internet services to isolate residents from independent sources of information.
Mr. Carpenter acknowledged there was little that the O.S.C.E. could do to stop Russia, although he cited efforts by the West and other international allies to hammer Moscow with economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. He said the organization was working to distribute humanitarian relief to Ukrainian people who have been wounded in the war or forced from their homes since Russia invaded, and was helping to document war crimes and other human rights abuses for future prosecutions.
“Part of what we’re trying to do is to expose Russia’s intentions,” Mr. Carpenter said, adding that “unfortunately, we have been more right than wrong in exposing what we believe may be coming next.”Show more
Continue reading the main storyhttps://d1e85e4660a0283b1d2d07df425f6fb8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html#xpc=sf-gdn-exp-1&p=https%3A//www.nytimes.com3 hours ago
A missile strike on a residential building in Odesa killed a 15-year-old child, Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Operational Command South, told reporters on Monday. Another child was taken to the hospital for treatment. The building was near a religious institution, which also suffered damage.4 hours ago
WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. is making a push for Russians with information to share to reach out to the spy agency on the dark web.
The C.I.A. took to YouTube and various social media platforms Monday to post instructions on how Russians could use secure virtual private networks, or VPNs, to download a secure browser to contact the agency via the anonymity of the dark web.
The instructions, written in Russian, are meant to be relatively simple to follow. Russians are told to use a VPN to contact the C.I.A. They can also download the Tor browser, which allows users to access the dark web and submit information anonymously, without either the agency knowing where it came from or Russian security services knowing someone was contacting the Americans.
“We are providing Russian-language instructions on how to safely contact C.I.A. — via our dark web site or a reputable VPN — for those who feel compelled to reach us because of the Russian government’s unjust war,” said Susan Miller, a C.I.A. spokeswoman.
While Russia is blocking Western social media, YouTube remains accessible. The agency is also using other undisclosed means to push out its instructions.
The C.I.A. first created a way to anonymously contact the agency via the dark web in 2019, when it posted a version of its website accessible with a Tor browser. But the messages posted Monday were the first time the agency has posted the instructions in Russian.
Using a Tor browser protects users’ anonymity by encrypting the traffic and bouncing it through so many way points it becomes extremely hard to trace.
An agency official said the C.I.A. wanted to provide Russians concerned about the war in Ukraine with a way to contact the agency without Moscow’s security services being able to intercept.
In the past, the agency has struggled with covert communications, with both the Iranians and Chinese penetrating one secret system set up by the agency. While it is theoretically possible for an intelligence service to track someone on the dark web, it would be immensely resource-intensive.
The C.I.A. asks Russians contacting it on the dark web to provide their name, position, the information access they have — as well as a way to follow up securely. While any Russian is welcome to contact the agency, American intelligence officers are likely mostly interested in Russian government officials with access to secret information.Show more4 hours ago
Daniel BerehulakReporting from Bucha, Ukraine
A Ukrainian farmer drove his tractor through a swath of destruction in the village of Moshchun on Monday. Just a few miles northwest of Kyiv, Moshchun’s ruined homes bear witness to the fierce fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces around the country’s capital in the first phase of the war.
Vera and Nicole thought they had endured the worst of the war as Russia besieged their city, Mariupol, for weeks. The sisters helped neighbors bury neighbors, melted snow for drinking water and survived a bombardment that tore a hole in the ceiling of their home.
But by mid-March, they knew it was time to leave. They heard that the Russian invaders were sweeping the southern port city and transferring Ukrainians by bus either to Russia or to Russian-controlled territory.
The sisters took Vera’s 4-year-old son, Kirill, slipped out of Mariupol on foot and embarked on a harrowing journey. They said they crossed a heavily mined road strewn with corpses; encountered a Russian sniper near a church who waved them on; and survived an artillery barrage in a field of flowers. After two days, the trio staggered onto a highway, only to be met by a Russian soldier who directed them to a packed bus.
The bus took them to a school in the nearby town of Nikolske, which they said had been converted into a Russian-operated registration center where Ukrainians were filling out forms with their personal information.
That was their first brush with what Ukrainian and U.S. officials and human rights groups have called “filtration” centers that they say are part of a system of forced expulsions of Ukrainians to Russia.Show more
Continue reading the main story5 hours ago
Lara JakesReporting from Washington
American officials believe that Russia is seeking to annex the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine as soon as mid-May, and possibly the southern region of Kherson after that, through what Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, derided as “sham” elections. “This is straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook,” Carpenter told reporters at the State Department.6 hours ago
Reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine
It had been a sound missing from Ukraine’s capital for months. Then, on a balmy spring afternoon, the chatter of children’s voices again filled a playground.
In a park beside the sky-blue cathedral of St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, in central Kyiv, a few young children clambered over a jungle gym and rocked on a seesaw.
Mothers stood idly by, chatting. The scene captured the mood of Kyiv these days, as tension slowly seeps out of a city that for weeks had been in the grips of an almost unimaginable, electric state of alarm.
In the early days of the war, families fled. The thud of artillery echoed through the streets. Countless sandbag checkpoints went up. And looming over the city was the prospect of fighting in the streets or a drawn-out siege.
Now, a month after the Ukrainian Army defeated the Russian forces that had partly encircled Kyiv, the city is enjoying a return to something like normalcy.
For most of April, more residents returned to the capital than left, though the mayor has recommended that most families refrain from returning while threats from the ongoing war linger.
The prewar population of the metropolitan area of Kyiv was about four million; it dropped by half over a few hectic days in February. Despite some families returning, many people with children remain in western Ukraine or as refugees in Europe, facing an uncertain future.
Back in March, Honey Café, a cozy bakery and coffee shop on Yaroslaviv Val Street that for unclear reasons reopened for business quickly, seemed the only spot in town to sit down for coffee. Even so, waiters warned, “Don’t sit near the windows,” lest an explosion spray glass shards.
Today, sidewalk cafes are popping up throughout Kyiv. Some restaurants are packed again, the once usual, if unwelcome, state of affairs. At Tin Tin Food Spot, a restaurant beside the city’s bicycle racing track, a lunchtime crowd filled every seat on Sunday afternoon.
The mood of the residents is one of deep gratefulness: that the city is still standing, that life can resume. It has made for a general sense of bonhomie.
On a recent hourslong walk, meandering through the cobblestone back streets of the Golden Gate and Podil neighborhoods, passers-by smiled or nodded pleasantly.
The chestnut trees were in bloom. And from time to time, on the crests of hills, the city’s still-intact skyline of golden church cupolas and high-rise buildings came into view.
To be sure, the war is still raging in eastern Ukraine. Cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv are shelled daily. And few in Kyiv discount another attempt on the capital, should the Russian Army muster the strength. Tens of thousands of residents of Kyiv have relatives in combat in the east who are in grave danger.
The vicious street fighting and widespread human rights abuses by the Russian Army in Kyiv’s suburban towns, including Irpin and Bucha, left residents traumatized and most likely facing months or years of emotional adjustment before any sense of safety returns, officials and aid workers have said.
And countless families have been separated as they have been forced to flee their homes, either as internally displaced people or as refugees to other countries in Europe.
Russian cruise missiles, fired from hundreds of miles away, still target the capital from time to time, striking military sites and residential buildings. But they are isolated strikes, for now posing little general risk to residents.
WASHINGTON — Russia’s offensive in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine is “anemic” and “plodding,” and slowed by a risk-averse approach designed to avoid the heavy casualties that Russian troops suffered in the first phase of the war, a senior Pentagon official said on Monday.
The assessment builds on a Defense Department analysis released last week that Russia appeared to be “several days behind” schedule in its fighting goals for the Donbas because of stiff Ukrainian resistance and continuing supply line problems.