Joe Biden travels to Poland on Friday, to a city near the Ukrainian border. The US president is at the forefront of Western engagement against the invasion launched by Moscow, which increasingly resembles a war of attrition.
In Ukraine, the situation of the heavily bombed city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov is deteriorating further, and Ukrainians condemn the “mass deportation” of residents against Russia. Mariupol’s mayor, Vadim Boychenko, presented on Thursday night on the Telegram a final assessment of 15,000 residents taken “by force” on board buses, as well as “confiscation of Ukrainian passports” by residents stuck there.
About 300 dead are feared in the Mariupol theater, which was bombed by the Russian air force on March 16, while hundreds of people were in hiding there, the city hall announced Friday with quotes from witnesses.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says his paramilitary militia, which is fighting alongside the Russian army, has taken over the town hall in this strategic port city. Information impossible to verify from an independent source. And the Ukrainian army makes sure that Mariupol has not yet fallen.
Russian television broadcast aerial photos of a city presented as Mariupol, with destroyed buildings blaming the destruction of the site on Ukrainian ‘nationalists’.
Deaths in Kharkiv
The offensive continues elsewhere in the country after deadly attacks on Thursday in Kharkiv, the second city in the country, where a Russian bombing raid on a medical center left four dead and at least three wounded on Friday.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have destroyed the Ukrainian army’s largest fuel reserve near Kiev with cruise missiles, which, according to Moscow, were used ‘to supply units in the central part of the country’.
The fighting intensifies on the capital’s front, with Ukrainian rocket launchers responding to Russian artillery. The Ukrainian army also claims that in the Sea of Azov, the Russian ship ‘Saratov’, intended for a ‘landing operation’, was ‘destroyed during the attack on the occupied port of Berdian’. Two other Russian landing craft, ‘Caesar Kunikov’ and ‘Novocherkassk’, were also ‘damaged’, according to Kiev. A curfew has also been decreed in Zaporizhie in the eastern part of the country.
In a month-long war, thousands of Ukrainians have been killed, including 121 children, 6.5 million have had to leave their homes, and more than 4,300 of them have been destroyed, according to a recent estimate by President Zelensky.
Refugees and American soldiers
Joe Biden is expected in the Polish city of Rzeszow, about 80 kilometers from the border with Ukraine, the second part of his trip to Europe. When he arrives from Brussels, he will be received by Polish President Andrzej Duda at the airport of this city, which is two and a half hours away from Lviv, the capital of western Ukraine, where refugees are flocking to.
He will then receive a briefing on “the humanitarian response to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Ukraine and to respond to the rising influx of refugees fleeing the war chosen by (Vladimir) Putin”, the White House specified.
Joe Biden will meet American soldiers located in this region, part of the more than 100,000 American soldiers currently present in Europe.
These two-day visits to Poland come after an extraordinary diplomatic marathon in Brussels, in which Joe Biden multiplied the summits – NATO, G7, EU – to praise Western unity in his response to Russia, one month to the day after the start of its invasion of Ukraine.
On Friday, the United States and the European Union announced the creation of a working group aimed at reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels. In this context, the United States will strive to supply Europe with an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) this year, the press release states.
At the same time, Germany, which before the Russian invasion imported a third of its oil and about 45% of its coal from Russia, announced that it would do without Russian coal by the autumn and would drastically reduce its dependence on Russian oil by the end of the year.
Joe Biden promised Brussels for the first time on Thursday a NATO “response” in the conflict in Ukraine if Russia resorted to chemical weapons there. In this situation, Westerners found the risk of a chemical attack very credible, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned them against on Thursday. Russia on Friday denied any violation of international law.