- Putin Says Mariupol is “Liberated,” Calls Off Assault on Steel Plant — Instead of the assault, Putin ordered the steel plant to be put under blockade so “not even a fly comes through.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday (April 21) said the southeastern city of Mariupol has been “liberated” except for the Azovstal steel plant, where the Russian military estimates are about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers.
In a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin called off a planned assault on the Azovstal steel plant, which has a sprawling network of underground tunnels. Putin said assaulting the plant wasn’t worth risking the lives of Russian soldiers. “There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities,” he said.
Instead of the assault, Putin ordered the steel plant to be put under blockade so “not even a fly comes through.” Putin also said to offer the Ukrainian forces another chance to surrender.
“Offer anyone, who has not laid down their arms yet, to do that,” Putin said, according to RT, adding that those who surrender will be spared their lives. According to Ukrainian officials, there are also civilians trapped at the steel plant.
Among the Ukrainian forces holding out in the plant is the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which is part of Ukraine’s National Guard. In comments to The Washington Post, Svyatoslav Palamar, Azov’s deputy commander, rejected Putin’s claims of victory in Mariupol but also admitted his troops needed to be evacuated.
- Biden Announces $1.3 Billion in Additional Aid for Ukraine — Of that amount, $800 million will go towards a new weapons package, and $500 million will go directly to the Ukrainian government.
Biden Announces $1.3 Billion in Additional Aid for Ukraine
On Thursday (April 21), President Biden announced another $1.3 billion in aid for Ukraine. Of that amount, $800 million will go towards a new weapons package, and $500 million will go directly to the Ukrainian government for economic assistance.
The $800 million in military aid includes howitzers, artillery rounds, vehicles to tow the howitzers, and new drones specifically developed for Ukraine, known as Ghost drones, which the Pentagon says have similar capabilities to the Switchblade drones it has been providing to Kyiv.
According to the Pentagon, the package includes:
● 72 155mm Howitzers and 144,000 artillery rounds
● 72 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers
● Over 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems
● Field equipment and spare parts.
The new package brings the total military aid pledged by the Biden administration for Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24 to a whopping $3.4 billion.
- Turkey Admits Some NATO Countries Actually Want the War in Ukraine to Continue Raging — “There are countries within NATO who want the war to continue,” Turkish FM Cavusoglu told CNN. “They want Russia to become weaker.”
Turkey Admits Some NATO Countries Actually Want the War in Ukraine to Continue Raging
In an interview on Wednesday (April 20), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said some NATO member states want the war in Ukraine to last longer as a way to hurt Russia.
“There are countries within NATO who want the war to continue,” Cavusoglu told CNN Turk. “They want Russia to become weaker.”
According to Iran’s Mehr News Agency, Cavusoglu did not think the war would last long after Russia and Ukraine held peace talks in Istanbul last month. But following a NATO foreign ministers meeting, he was given the impression that some alliance members don’t want the war to end.
Since Russia invaded on February 24, the US and many of its NATO allies have abandoned diplomacy with Russia. Instead of seeking a diplomatic solution, the Western powers are pouring weapons into Ukraine and waging an economic sanctions campaign against Russia.
The view among some NATO members on the war was summarized by a recent report from The Washington Post. The report said: “For some in NATO, it’s better for the Ukrainians to keep fighting, and dying, than to achieve a peace that comes too early or at too high a cost to Kyiv and the rest of Europe.”
- Tensions Boil Over as Israeli War Planes Strike Gaza for Second Time This Week — Clashes have erupted between Palestinian militants in Gaza and the Israel Defense Forces.
Tensions Boil Over as Israeli War Planes Strike Gaza for Second Time This Week
Clashes have erupted between Palestinian militants in Gaza and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with the two trading fire on Thursday (April 21) as tensions reached levels not seen since a major outbreak of violence last year.
A series of rockets were fired from Gaza starting late on Wednesday (April 20) night, some of which were intercepted by Israeli defenses, according to the IDF, while at least one landed in southern Israel. There were no reports of casualties or damage, and no group claimed responsibility for the rockets.
Tel Aviv responded by ordering airstrikes on several sites it said were used by Hamas, sharing footage of the attack in progress. It is unclear if the strikes resulted in deaths or injuries.
Following the IDF bombing, four additional rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, landing in an open area in the city of Sderot and again causing no damage. While no group claimed the initial rocket strikes, Hamas later said it fired surface-to-air missiles at the Israeli warplanes.
The flare-up comes amid soaring hostilities in Jerusalem, where Israeli security forces have repeatedly cracked down on worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. Violence broke out at the site last weekend, seeing more than 150 Palestinians injured in scuffles with Israeli officers.
- Where is Gonzalo Lira? — If you have information on the whereabouts of Gonzalo Lira in Ukraine, please contact Glenn Greenwald.
Ukraine Neo-Nazi Posts about ‘Kidnapping & Torture’ of Foreign Blogger
The fate of Chilean-American journalist Gonzalo Lira remains unknown after his failure to fulfil media commitments. Lira was a no-show for an interview with Mint Press’ Dan Cohen about a violent crackdown against dissidents by Kiev.
An infamous Ukrainian neo-Nazi known as ‘Botsman’ took to social media to mock Lira’s possible torture and beheading; he has since made his account private.
Lira – who has been an outspoken critic of Zelensky’s govt and – told RT last week about the dangers of Kharkov and how no-one “can feel safe in Ukraine under the nationalist regime.”
Lira was last seen in the city almost a week ago.
- Israeli Weapon Seen Used by Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion Against Russia — In a video published by the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian fighter can be seen firing the portable anti-tank weapon at Russian forces.
An anti-armor weapon jointly developed by Israel, Singapore and a German company has been seen in operational use by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion against Russian military forces.
In a video published by the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian fighter can be seen firing the portable anti-tank weapon at what appears to be a Russian armored personnel carrier.
As Western countries have undertaken massive arms transfers to Ukraine to support it in its war against Russia, critics have expressed concern that these weapons could end up in hands of neo-Nazi groups like the Azov Battalion, which was integrated into Ukraine’s National Force in 2014.
- Former Intelligence Officials, Citing Russia, Say Big Tech Monopoly Power is Vital to National Security — The U.S. security state has announced that Big Tech’s centralized censorship power must be preserved.
Former Intelligence Officials, Citing Russia, Say Big Tech Monopoly Power is Vital to National Security
When the U.S. security state announces that Big Tech’s centralized censorship power must be preserved, we should ask what this reveals about whom this regime serves.
“A group of former intelligence and national security officials on Monday issued a jointly signed letter warning that pending legislative attempts to restrict or break up the power of Big Tech monopolies — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — would jeopardize national security because, they argue, their centralized censorship power is crucial to advancing U.S. foreign policy. The majority of this letter is devoted to repeatedly invoking the grave threat allegedly posed to the U.S. by Russia as illustrated by the invasion of Ukraine, and it repeatedly points to the dangers Putin and the Kremlin to justify the need to preserve Big Tech’s power in its maximalist form
- 87% of the IMF’s Pandemic-Related Loans Are Now Forcing Austerity on Crisis-Ravaged Nations — This stands in stark contrast with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s admonition to the EU last year
The conditions of nearly 90% of the IMF’s pandemic-related loans are forcing developing nations suffering some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises to implement austerity measures that fuel further impoverishment and inequality, an analysis published this week by Oxfam International revealed.
Oxfam found that “13 out of the 15 IMF loan programs negotiated during the second year of the pandemic require new austerity measures such as taxes on food and fuel or spending cuts that could put vital public services at risk.”
This stands in stark contrast with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s admonition to the EU last year that the wealthy bloc should not endanger its economic recovery with “the suffocating force of austerity.”
“This epitomizes the IMF’s double standard,” Oxfam International Senior Policy Advisor Nabil Abdo said in a statement. “It is warning rich countries against austerity while forcing poorer ones into it.”
At the start of the pandemic, the IMF issued billions of dollars in emergency loans to developing countries with few or no conditions. However, the institution has reverted to its highly controversial practice of requiring nations to impose the type of austerity measures that have exacerbated poverty and inequality, fueled global unrest, and even played () a key role in sparking revolutions.
- Germany Announces Plan to Get Heavy Weapons Into Ukraine — German Chancellor Scholz has come under pressure from his own coalition for not acting fast enough to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.
As German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is facing growing criticism for not sending more arms to Ukraine, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced an agreement to send heavy weapons to the Ukrainians via Eastern European countries.
Under the plan, Eastern European countries will send Soviet-made equipment to Ukraine, and Germany will then replenish the stocks with German-made weapons. “It’s about tanks, armored vehicles, or other options individual countries are able to give,” Lambrecht said.
Lambrecht didn’t announce a specific transfer of arms that would happen but said the agreement will deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine “in the next few days.” According to a report from DW, Slovenia is expected to send a large number T-72 tanks to Ukraine. In exchange, Germany will send Slovenia Marder tanks and Fox wheeled tanks.
Ukrainian forces are only trained to use older Russian-made weapons. Lambrecht said Germany will train Ukrainian forces on how to use German-made Panzerhaubitze 2000 tanks that the Netherlands is reportedly sending to Ukraine.
Scholz has come under pressure from his own coalition government for not acting fast enough to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.
- Russia Now Controls 80% of Luhansk Region in the Donbas — Before Russia invaded on February 24, the Ukrainian government controlled about 60% of Luhansk.
Russia now controls 80% of the Luhansk oblast in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, the Luhansk governor said, according to The Associated Press.
Before Russia invaded on February 24, the Ukrainian government controlled about 60% of Luhansk, which is one of two regions that makes up the Donbas.
Gov Serhiy Haidai said Russia has stepped up its attacks in Luhansk and captured the city of Kreminna. Now, the Russian forces are moving to take the cities of Rubizhne and Popasna.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday (April 19) that Russia was starting a new “stage” of its invasion of Ukraine as attacks increased in the east. Fighting is also raging in the Donestk oblast in the Donbas.
Russia has made clear that its current focus in Ukraine is on “liberating” the Donbas as its forces have withdrawn from the northern areas near Kyiv. The separatists in the breakaway republics of Donestk and Luhansk first declared independence in 2014 after the US-backed ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
By G3 News