Ukrainians overwhelmingly reject conceding land to end war; UN votes 141-7 to condemn invasion: Updates

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An overwhelming majority of Ukrainians remain unwilling to concede any territory to end the yearlong war that has seen Russian forces batter their cities and severely damage infrastructure, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by the independent Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, showed 87% of Ukrainians steadfastly support the position repeatedly expressed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Nine percent believe some territory can be abandoned to attain peace, according to the poll.

The survey, taken earlier this month, drew responses similar to a December poll. The pollsters acknowledged that citizens with “pro-Russian” attitudes might be less willing to participate in surveys. But its studies indicate those who participate generally answer frankly, the organization said.

“Even at the end of a difficult winter, Ukrainians maintain their unity and desire to continue resisting the cruel aggressor,” the report says. “Currently, any plan where Ukrainians will be ‘sold’ peace in exchange for territory is doomed to failure and rejection by society.”

‘WE NEED TO KEEP LIVING’:What life is like for Ukrainians a year into Russia’s invasion

Developments:

►Spain, one of five countries that has pledged to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, will consider increasing its contribution from six to 10 tanks, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said as he visited Zelenskyy on Thursday.

►Russia has fired almost 5,000 missiles into Ukraine since the invasion began a year ago, Ukraine Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said Thursday. More than 1,000 drone strikes also have targeted the country, he said.

►Europeans remain steadfast in their support of Ukraine, according to a new poll from the EU that shows 91% of respondents in favor of providing humanitarian aid to those impacted by the war and 88% willing to welcome those fleeing the conflict into the bloc. In addition, 65% backed paying for military equipment for Ukraine to fight Russia.

►Russian President Vladimir Putin, marking the country’s Defender of the Fatherland Day on Thursday by meeting with veterans, said the future belongs to Russia. “It is a sacred duty of the state to take care of those who defend the nation,” Putin added at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Russian casualties in the war are estimated at close to 200,000.

‘WE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME’:Displaced Ukrainian children risk erosion in school, mental health

UN resolution condemns Russian invasion on eve of anniversary

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved Thursday a nonbinding resolution condemning Russia’s invasion and calling for the withdrawal of its forces from Ukraine. The resolution stresses “the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace” in line with the founding U.N. Charter.

The invasion was an “affront” to the world’s collective conscience, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

That message was echoed on the eve of the invasion’s one-year anniversary by the 141-7 vote with 32 abstentions, even if it was slightly below the highest vote in favor of the five previous resolutions approved since the war started. China, India and Iran were among the abstaining countries.

The General Assembly has become the most important U.N. body dealing with Ukraine because the Security Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, is paralyzed by Russia’s veto power.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the West would rather focus its efforts on addressing issues like climate change and social justice, but was compelled to intervene after the Kremlin’s unprovoked attack against a smaller neighbor.

“The truth is, if Russia stops fighting, this war ends,” Baerbock said. “If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.”

‘I never saw so much hell’: Intercepted calls reveal reality of war for Russians

Video and photographs have captured some of the mayhem and brutality of Russia’s yearlong war in Ukraine. Now recorded conversations help fill out the picture of the horrors perpetrated and endured by some of the invading forces.

The Associated Press obtained access to about 2,000 secret recordings of intercepted conversations between Russian soldiers in Ukraine and their loved ones back home. Among them were calls made in March 2022 by troops in a military division accused of committing war crimes in Bucha, a town outside Kyiv that became an early symbol of Russian atrocities.

The conversations reveal how unprepared the young soldiers were for combat, and how misled they had been, told they would be greeted as liberating heroes in a conflict that would be won quickly.

Comments like, “There were dead bodies lying around and burning,” “I never saw so much hell as here,” and, “It’s easier to shoot … civilians,” gave the stunned relatives a better sense for the war their loved ones had been sent to.

Ammunition flow to Ukraine ‘not sustainable,’ NATO chief says

The amount of ammunition the West is sending to Ukraine is “not sustainable” and the defense industry must ramp up production to help turn back the Russian invasion, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Thursday. Stoltenberg, in an interview with Sky News, said the war has become a “battle of logistics.” He deflected questions about Ukraine’s plea for fighter jets, saying the more urgent need is for ammunition, spare parts and maintenance on the weapons systems already supplied to Kyiv.

“This is becoming a grinding war of attrition,” Stoltenberg said. “So far we have provided support by digging into our stocks, but consumption of ammunition in Ukraine is much higher than our production. This is not sustainable.”

Dale Buckner, a retired Army colonel and CEO of the Global Guardian security firm with people in Ukraine, told USA TODAY the war has provided the West with an “urgent and most needed wakeup call” for its defense industrial base and fragile supply chain.

Stoltenberg said allowing Putin to win the war “would be a tragedy for Ukrainians but also would be dangerous” for the West.

“It would send a send a message to President Putin and authoritarian leaders that when they use force they get what they want,” Stoltenberg said.

Ukraine bolsters security as one-year mark of invasion approaches

Ukrainian officials are boosting security measures in some parts of the country in anticipation of a Russian attack around Friday’s one-year anniversary of the invasion launched by Putin.

Schools throughout the country have been told to close and provide online instruction Wednesday through Friday amid fears they could be targeted.

In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, less than 20 miles south of the Russian border, Mayor Ihor Terekhov encouraged those fearful of an attack to work remotely, the Kyiv Independent reported.

The southern province of Kherson has increased police patrols in areas that attract crowds and discouraged gatherings, while administrators have asked that most public offices and businesses operate remotely the rest of the week. The city of Kherson was reclaimed by Ukrainian forces in November but is still under Russian fire from across the Dnipro River.

“We strongly ask you to take care of your own safety and the safety of your relatives in this period!” province administrators said in a Facebook post.

Russians intensify efforts to extend control in Donetsk

The city of Bakhmut and the town of Vuhledar are enduring an intense assault as the Russians try to expand their control of the southern Donetsk province.

Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov told reporters Thursday that Russia has been attempting to capture Bakhmut for more than seven months, engaging with Ukrainian forces in about 380 clashes this month alone.

“The aggressor does not stop trying, despite heavy losses, to surround the settlement of Bakhmut,” Gromov said.

Russia’s previous attempts to overtake Vuhledar failed in late 2022 and earlier this month. Now the commander in charge of the operations, Colonel General Rustam Muradov, is under heavy pressure to deliver results, the British Defense Ministry said in its latest update. However, the ministry added, “it is unlikely that Muradov has a striking force capable of achieving a breakthrough.”

Zelenskyy strives to get government house in order

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has removed numerous high-ranking officials over the last few months, stepping up the battle against government corruption that has been historically rampant in Ukraine, according to Jeffrey Levine, a former U.S. ambassador to Estonia, like Ukraine a former Soviet republic sharing a border with Russia.

“I thought it especially impressive that President Zelenskyy has been willing to remove high-ranking officials for corruption in the midst of the war,” Levine said. “It further enhances his reputation and will, hopefully, lead to a stronger, more democratic Ukraine when this is all over.”

A deeper dive

• ‘It’s hard, but they’re holding on,’ On the ground in Ukraine, the war depends on U.S. weapons

• ‘WE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME’: Displaced Ukrainian children risk erosion in school, mental health

• ‘Kyiv stands strong’: Biden declares Putin ‘was wrong,’ marks one year of Russia’s war in Ukraine

• Putin suspends nuclear arms treaty while lashing out at West over Ukraine war

• Joe Biden makes surprise visit to Ukraine ahead of Russian invasion anniversary, walks streets of Kyiv

[Read More…]