On the night of Sunday, April 24, it was exactly two months since the outbreake of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since that time, our struggle has not left the pages of the Western media.
On April 23-25, they reported about the visit of Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken to Kyiv, the future negotiations of the UN Secretary General with Putin and Zelenskyy, new threats from the Russian Federation, the victory of Macron, and political turmoil in Olaf Scholz’s party over the war in Ukraine.
U.S. wants to weaken Russia
The Washington Post reports that the United States hopes that the war in Ukraine will weaken Russia that will no longer be able to invade its neighbors.
This was stated by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after his visit to Kyiv together with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
The defense secretary was asked how he defined America’s goals for success in Ukraine.
He said Washington wants to see "Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country, able to protect its sovereign territory."
Austin subsequently added a goal for Moscow:
"Frankly speaking, Russia has already lost a lot of military capability and a lot of its troops, and we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability."
"Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Putin"
For his part, Antony Blinken says the U.S. embassy is likely to reopen in Kyiv within a few weeks.
President Biden is expected to nominate Bridget Brink as the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, he said.
Now she is serving as U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, is deeply experienced in the region and will be a very strong representative for the United States in Ukraine, Blinken noted.
He also added that Russia’s main goal was to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. From Washington’s point of view, Moscow has failed in that objective.
Another of Russia’s goals was to divide the West and NATO, but it has also failed. The war in Ukraine has prompted Finland and Sweden, two traditionally neutral states near the RF, to consider joining the security alliance.
"We don’t know how the rest of this war will unfold, but we do know that a sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene," Blinken stressed.
No success for Putin in France
The New York Times reports that Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his re-election to the presidency of France after defeating Marine Le Pen.
Le Pen was favored by many in Russia as a potential game-changing option for the Kremlin amid the threat of new sanctions and in the midst of the war in Ukraine.
"I sincerely wish you success in your state activities, as well as good health and well-being," Putin said in a congratulatory note to Mr. Macron, published by the Kremlin.
Macron has been one of the few Western politicians willing to engage with Putin, relentlessly trying to push the Russian leader toward diplomacy. Since the start of the war on Feb. 24, the two presidents have had nine telephone conversations, according to the Kremlin.
However, Macron has been bound by the French commitment to the trans-Atlantic unity, something that Ms. Le Pen, his rival, was willing to weaken. Her National Rally party borrowed millions from a Russian bank over the past decade.
Le Pen said that rapprochement with Moscow would be her foreign-policy priority once the fighting in Ukraine stopped. Therefore, the victory of the nationalist would be perceived as a great triumph for Putin.
Russia threatens U.S., and UN Secretary General heads for Moscow
The Guardian reports that Russia is warning the U.S. against sending more weapons to Ukraine, Moscow's ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said:
"We stressed the unacceptability of this situation when the United States of America pours weapons into Ukraine, and we demanded an end to this practice."
He said an official diplomatic note had been sent to Washington expressing Russia’s concerns following U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kyiv.
Sky News informs that on Tuesday, April 25, UN Secretary General António Guterres will arrive in Moscow for his first face-to-face talks with Vladimir Putin.
Russia has now detailed what it expects to discuss with Guterres, including the situation surrounding the besieged city of Mariupol. After meeting with Putin, Guterres will travel to Ukraine for talks with Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Russia intimidates Ukrainians and finishes off Azovstal
The Guardian also cites abstracts from an interview with Lord Richard Dannatt, the former Chief of the British General Staff.
He said the co-ordinated strike is "unsurprising", adding that Russia has realised it is "struggling to make breakthroughs in the tactical fight".
As Lord Dannatt noted, Moscow is "trying to spread dismay, damage, disillusion and lower the morale of Ukrainian people right across the country by cruise missile and other strikes".
"Therefore it's unsurprising that, in a co-ordinated way, within an hour, they've hit five railway stations," he says.
According to reports, Russia is likely to launch a new attack on Azovstal.
"Putin has to get that aspect of his campaign complete by armed forces Victory Day on 9 May. Otherwise, the efforts to achieve a major breakthrough, a major success in the Donbas, appears to be eluding them."
EU prepares "smart embargo" on oil
Reuters, citing The Times, reports that the European Union is preparing "smart sanctions" against Russian oil imports. This was stated by the Executive Vice President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis.
"We are working on a sixth sanctions package and one of the issues we are considering is some form of an oil embargo. When we are imposing sanctions, we need to do so in a way that maximises pressure on Russia while minimising collateral damage on ourselves," Dombrovskis said.
According to him, precise details of the oil sanctions had not yet been agreed but could include a gradual phasing-out of Russian oil or imposing tariffs on exports beyond a certain price cap.
Schroeder advised to quit Scholz's party
Reuters also reports that former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was called to quit the SPD.
This happened after he had defended his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, exposing a rift at the heart of government in Berlin over the war in Ukraine.
Saskia Esken, the SPD's co-leader, said it was time to stop seeing Schroeder as a former chancellor and see him merely as a businessman.
"We called on Gerhard Schroeder to step down from Russian companies. Sadly he didn't follow that advice" she said adding that he should quit the party.
Schroeder has refused, despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine, to step down from the posts with Russian energy companies from which he has earned millions of euros since leaving office in 2004.
In a New York Times interview he said Germany had also benefited from his ties to Putin, though he said he would resign if Russia ever stopped sending Germany gas.
Rift in Bundestag over Kyiv and Moscow
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly said that Schroeder does not speak for the government, but has remained silent on whether he should quit the party.
Still, many in that wing of the party remain reluctant to send Ukraine the heavy weapons.
"Germany should stop telegraphing signals about its economic vulnerability to Moscow," senior liberal legislator Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann told a party congress at the weekend.
Friedrich Merz, the conservative leader (Christian Democratic Union) whose party lost office in December, is preparing to capitalise on the disarray, promising to table a motion in parliament to send heavy weapons to Ukraine that could split the coalition.
Instead of an afterword. The U.S. is apparently continuing the strategy of Russia’s attrition while supporting Ukraine. The question, of course, is for Kyiv to last as long as possible in this game.
Macron's victory in France gives hope that the EU will not see a turning point in terms of consistent support for Ukraine and the approval of ever-tougher sanctions against the Russian Federation, which Vladimir Putin so hoped for.
In any case, even a gradual and piecemeal embargo on oil will sooner or later hit the Russian economy in such a way that it will not be easy for the federation to recover.
Meanwhile, controversy is deepening in Germany over the Social Democrats' business ties to Russian energy companies, but they also help to separate pure businessmen from political leaders.
Ukraine has been fighting for its sovereignty for two months, or 61 days.