NAccording to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after the withdrawal of Russian troops, a “mass grave” was found in the eastern Ukrainian city of Izyum in the Kharkiv region. “The necessary procedural actions have already begun there,” said the head of state in a video message distributed in Kyiv on Thursday. More information should be available this Friday. According to the Internet newspaper Ukrajinska Pravda, the head of the police investigation agency in the Kharkiv region, Serhiy Bolvynov, also spoke of a “mass grave” in a forest in Izyum, in which more than 440 bodies were found.
According to information from Kyiv, the Russians fled the area on Saturday after a counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces. The Defense Ministry in Moscow had spoken of a “regrouping” of its troops, while even sources close to the Kremlin spoke of a devastating defeat.
Zelenskyj visited Izyum on Wednesday. Journalists are to be brought to the city this Friday. “We want the world to know what really happened and what the Russian occupation led to,” Zelensky said. “Bucha, Mariupol and now, unfortunately, also Izyum: Russia leaves death everywhere and has to answer for it. The world must hold Russia to real responsibility for this war.”
After the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kiev suburb of Bucha in the spring, the Ukrainian side complained about the most serious war crimes there and in numerous other places, including the port city of Mariupol, which was occupied by Moscow. According to Ukrainian authorities, hundreds of civilians were killed in Bucha and thousands in Mariupol.
Zelenskyj calls for eighth EU sanctions package against Russia
Selenskyj did not begin his eight-minute video message with the news of the many dead bodies, but with his thanks for the recent visit by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv and for the support in the fight against Russian aggression. His country is making progress on the way to becoming a candidate for EU membership, said the President.
Selenskyj once again described Russia as a “terrorist state” that is trying to compensate for the “cowardice and incompetence of its armed forces” with attacks on the energy infrastructure and dams in Ukraine. There must always be a tough reaction to terror, demanded Zelenskyj. “Therefore there must be the eighth sanctions package of the EU.”
Ukraine demands powerful air defense systems
In addition, Zelenskyj once again demanded powerful air defense systems from the West to protect Ukrainian airspace. “Protecting Ukraine from Russian missiles is a truly fundamental element of global security,” he said. Russia has fired more than 3,800 rockets at Ukraine since the war began on February 24.
Supporting his country with weapons, ammunition and money is essential for peace in Europe, emphasized the 44-year-old. “The more support we have, the faster this war will end.” Freedom in the world can only be defended if Ukraine wins.
The federal government will provide Ukraine with two more Mars multiple rocket launchers and 50 armored vehicles of the Dingo type. In addition, 200 missiles would be delivered, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) announced on Thursday in Berlin. Berlin is thus expanding the list of weapon systems, but is leaving Kyiv’s demand for battle tanks and armored personnel carriers unfulfilled. On Thursday evening (local time), the US State Department announced further military aid for Kyiv in the amount of 600 million US dollars (around 600 million euros) – for example in the form of additional weapons, ammunition and equipment from US stocks.
Pope: supply of weapons for self-defense legitimate
Pope Francis considers arms deliveries to Ukraine to be morally justifiable if they are only for self-defense. The head of the Catholic Church said on Thursday on the flight back to Rome from his trip to Kazakhstan. When asked about this, the pontiff replied that it was immoral to supply arms “with the intention of provoking more war, selling more arms, or getting rid of old ones.”
As a participant in a two-day religious gathering in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, Francis called on the international community to do more for peace. In addition, the 85-year-old Argentinian said that dialogue must also be sought with an aggressor like Russia.
What will be important on Friday
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) will take part in the Bundeswehr conference on Friday, where the further course of the German armed forces will be discussed. In addition, the Speakers of the G-7 States and the EU Parliament are meeting in Berlin to discuss the consequences of the Russian war of aggression. Germany currently chairs the G-7 group, which also includes France, Italy, Japan, Canada, the US and the UK.
The President of the Ukrainian Parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, has been invited as a guest. A press conference with Stefantschuk and the speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is planned for noon (12:00 p.m.). She will be received by Chancellor Scholz in the afternoon and by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the evening.
The summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) ends in Samarkand in the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to give a speech on the future of the group. On Thursday, he held bilateral talks with China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping, which also included Russia’s war in Ukraine. China gives Putin political backing and portrays the US and NATO as the main culprits in the war.