Putin set for major Ukraine war speech after Biden walks streets of Kyiv
Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to make a speech on Tuesday (21 February) setting out aims for the second year of his invasion of Ukraine, a day after US President Joe Biden walked the streets of Kyiv promising to stand with Ukraine as long as it takes.
Biden, in his trademark aviator sunglasses, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in green battle fatigues, walked side-by-side to a gold-domed cathedral in Kyiv on a bright winter Monday morning pierced by the sound of air raid sirens.
“The cost that Ukraine has had to pay is extraordinarily high. Sacrifices have been far too great. … We know that there will be difficult days and weeks and years ahead.”
Since then, Russia’s war has killed tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers on both sides, cities have been reduced to rubble, and millions of refugees have fled. Russia says it has annexed nearly a fifth of Ukraine, while the West has pledged tens of billions of dollars in military aid to Kyiv.
Putin will update Russia’s political and military elite on the Ukraine conflict, the biggest confrontation with the West since the depths of the Cold War, in a speech to members of both houses of parliament on Tuesday.
Russia is trying to secure full control of two eastern provinces forming Ukraine’s Donbas industrial region. It has sent thousands of conscripts into Ukraine for a winter offensive but has secured only scant gains so far in assaults in frozen trenches up and down the eastern front in recent weeks.
In meeting, Blinken warns China’s Wang Yi against aiding Russia in Ukraine
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday (18 February) warned top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi of consequences should China provide material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.