KYIV, April 11 (AP): A showdown looms in Ukraine after Russia appointed a new military commander and looked to concentrate its attacks in the east, while Ukraine’s president said his troops will hold their ground, urging Western leaders, in particular President Joe Biden, to do more.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Sunday in a nightly address that this week will be as crucial as any during the war, saying “Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state.”
Ukraine’s fate as the war shifts south and east depends on whether the United States will help match a surge in Russian weaponry, he said, echoing comments he made in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday.
“To be honest, whether we will be able to (survive) depends on this,” Zelenskyy said in a “60 Minutes” interview. “Unfortunately, I don’t have the confidence that we will be receiving everything we need.”
Zelenskyy said he was grateful to Biden for U.S. military aid to date but added that he “long ago” forwarded a list of specific items Ukraine desperately needed.
“He has the list,” Zelenskyy said. “President Biden can enter history as the person who stood shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian people who won and chose the right to have their own country. (This) also depends on him.”
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer was due to meet Monday in Moscow with Putin, after meeting with Zelenskyy in Kyiv. Austria, a member of the European Union, is militarily neutral and not a member of NATO.
Also Monday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was sending a military transport plane and a support team of 50 to Europe to carry much-needed equipment and supplies to key distribution centers.
More than six weeks of war in Ukraine has flattened cities, killed untold thousands and isolated Moscow economically and politically, and experts say the next phase of the battle may begin with a full-scale offensive that could determine the course of the conflict.
Questions remain about the ability of depleted and demoralized Russian forces to conquer much ground after their advance on the capital, Kyiv, was repelled by determined Ukrainian defenders. Britain’s Defense Ministry says Russia is trying to compensate for mounting casualties by recalling veterans discharged in the past decade.
In his Sunday night address, Zelenskyy also accused Russia of trying to evade responsibility for war crimes in Ukraine.
“When people lack the courage to admit their mistakes, apologize, adapt to reality and learn, they turn into monsters. And when the world ignores it, the monsters decide that it is the world that has to adapt to them,” Zelenskyy said.
“The day will come when they will have to admit everything. Accept the truth,” he added.
Ukrainian authorities accuse Russian forces of committing war crimes against civilians, including airstrikes on hospitals, a missile attack that killed at least 57 people at a train station and other violence.
In another report of atrocities, the village of Buzova outside the capital, Kyiv, charred vehicles and buildings marked an area where local official Taras Didych told Ukrainian media Sunday that bodies showing “evidence of execution” were found after Russian forces withdrew from the region. It was unclear how many bodies were discovered.
Buzova is near Bucha, another of the towns near Kyiv, where hundreds of bodies, many with their hands bound and signs of torture were found after the Russian retreat. Russia has falsely claimed the scenes in Bucha were staged.