US officials go to Kiev for meeting with Ukrainian president | World

US diplomacy and defense leaders arrive in Kiev on Sunday for their first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Secretaries of State, Antony Blinken, and Defense, Lloyd Austin, are going to the Ukrainian capital just as the war, which has left thousands dead and millions displaced, completes two months.

  • War in Ukraine completes two months; see invasion chronology

Since the start of the conflict, several European leaders have traveled to Kiev to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and provide support to Ukraine, but the United States has so far not sent any senior officials.

Blinken and Lloyd’s visit to Ukraine coincides with Easter in this largely Orthodox country.

“Our souls are filled with a fierce hatred for the invaders and all they have done. We will not let anger destroy us from within,” Zelensky said in a statement marking the holiday.

Pope Francis, for his part, renewed, in front of thousands of faithful in St. Peter’s Square, his appeal for a truce on the occasion of Orthodox Easter.

The US State Department declined to comment on the highly sensitive trip by two of President Joe Biden’s top cabinet members.

On the ground, Russian forces show no signs of easing their attacks after launching a missile into the southern city of Odessa, which Ukraine says has killed eight people, including a baby.

“Among the dead is a three-month-old baby. How did she threaten Russia? It seems that killing children is a new national idea of ​​the Russian Federation,” denounced Zelensky.

He also accused Russia of being a terrorist state and acting like the Nazis in the devastated city of Mariupol, heavily bombed for weeks.

War in Ukraine – A man walks amid destroyed buildings in Mariupol on April 22, 2022 — Photo: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

UN calls for truce in Mariupol

The UN is calling for an “immediate” truce in Mariupol to allow for the evacuation of around 100,000 civilians who remain stranded in this Ukrainian port city controlled almost entirely by the Russian army, according to a statement issued Sunday by its coordinator in Ukraine.

“We need a break from fighting now to save lives. The longer we wait, the more lives are threatened. People must be allowed to leave now, today. Tomorrow will be too late,” said Amin Awad.

The latest of several attempts to evacuate civilians from the city failed on Saturday, and a unit of Ukrainian fighters in tunnels under a steel mill appeared to be in a desperate situation.

On Saturday, about 200 residents gathered at a designated evacuation site in Mariupol but were “dispersed” by Russian forces, Petro Andyushchenko, a municipal official, reported on Telegram.

He assured that the Russians prevented the evacuation and that other civilians were taken to buses bound for places under Russian control.

Earlier this morning, Ukraine said Russian forces were continuing to bomb the Sea of ​​Azov city, including the Azovstal steelworks, the last stronghold of Ukrainian fighters’ resistance.

Mariupol, which the Kremlin claims to have taken over, is central to Russian military plans to establish a land corridor between Russian-occupied Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Although fighting spread across most of the country, many Ukrainians braved the bombs to receive the traditional Orthodox Easter blessing, which Ukrainians celebrated on Sunday.

At the front in the city of Liman, soldiers exchanged the customary patriotic salute of “Glory to Ukraine!” by “Christ is risen!”.

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