Russian Invasion: War against Ukraine: This is the situation

The French government has appealed to Russia not to exploit the Islamist-motivated terrorist attack near Moscow.

Russian Invasion: War against Ukraine: This is the situation

The French government has appealed to Russia not to exploit the Islamist-motivated terrorist attack near Moscow. Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu said his country had no information about a connection between the attack and Ukraine after a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. The two chief diplomats had spoken to each other on the telephone for the first time in around a year and a half. Lecornu condemned the attack near Moscow and recalled France's willingness to increase exchanges in the fight against terrorism, it was said from Paris.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack two weeks ago in several letters. Western security authorities and experts consider these messages to be credible and assume that the attack was carried out by the IS offshoot Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISPK). The Russian leadership is trying to portray Ukraine as the real mastermind.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lecornu tried to convince the Russian side in the phone call with Shoigu that neither Ukraine nor Western countries were involved in the terrorist attack. The Frenchman shifted responsibility to IS. Shoigu emphasized that the investigation would be completed and all those responsible would be punished.

On March 22, four men unhindered stormed an event center on the outskirts of Moscow that was occupied by thousands of people, fired shots and set a fire. More than 140 people were killed in the worst terrorist attack in Russia in years. Several suspected terrorists and backers are in custody.

Russia insists on suspicion of terrorism against Ukraine

According to Moscow, the Russian side has evidence of a Ukrainian lead in organizing the terrorist attack. "The Kiev regime does nothing without the consent of the Western curators. We trust that in this case the French secret services are not behind it," Shoigu said. Regarding the possible deployment of French troops to Ukraine, the Russian minister said that this would cause problems for France. According to Russian information, a number of French mercenaries have already died in Ukraine.

According to Paris, Lecornu condemned the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. France will support Ukraine for as long and as intensively as necessary in its struggle for freedom and sovereignty in order to restore peace and security on the European continent.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Shoigu had signaled willingness to engage in dialogue about the future of Ukraine. The basis for this could be the Istanbul peace initiative shortly after the start of the war in spring 2022. At that time, Ukraine was said to have been prepared to forego joining NATO. Shoigu described a peace summit planned by Kiev in Switzerland as pointless because Moscow was not represented there.

Zelenskyj asks allies for help against Russia

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned of new Russian operations and mobilization. In view of fears of new Russian offensives, he once again emphatically asked the Western allies for help. "We must win this war. This is a historic opportunity for Ukraine to thwart Russian revanchism and we must seize it," Zelensky said in his evening video message. The president said it was clear to Ukraine what Russia was planning and why the country was recruiting soldiers. He didn't give any details.

Experts assume that Russia could be planning a new major attack in order to bring additional areas under its complete control beyond the previously partially occupied Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. The Russian army could therefore also try to annex the Kharkiv and Odessa regions. The power apparatus in Moscow has recently repeatedly referred to these regions as historical Russian territories.

According to Zelensky, Russia wants to mobilize 300,000 reservists for new military operations by June 1st. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected this. "That's not the truth," he said. Russia has repeatedly stated that it has enough volunteers for military service. There should therefore be no new mobilization like in autumn 2022. At that time there were protests against the forced conscription of 300,000 reservists into the war by Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, and hundreds of thousands of men fled abroad.

To defend its territory, Ukraine, which has been defending itself against the Russian war of aggression for more than two years, is dependent on broad Western help. Zelenskyj therefore repeatedly demands more weapons and ammunition. “And we, all of us, our partners, must have a strong response to Russian operations,” Zelensky said. It is important to strengthen the defense of the Ukrainian positions and to continue to put pressure on the Russian positions.

Zelensky once again called for NATO to invite Ukraine to join the alliance. "We can't waste any time," he said. It's "about our common security, about protecting millions of people from Russian murderers." In Brussels today, NATO is celebrating its founding 75 years ago with a ceremony at the alliance's headquarters. After the celebration, working sessions are planned, including with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Deaths in Russian attack on Kharkiv

According to official reports, at least four people were killed and twelve others injured in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv as a result of a serious Russian drone attack. Among the dead in the residential area were a resident and three rescue workers, Governor Oleh Synjehubow and Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Telegram.

The rescuers were working at the impact site in the residential area when the Russian army attacked again. According to authorities, several buildings were damaged, including a multi-story apartment building, Terekhov wrote. Of a total of 20 combat drones with which Russia attacked Ukraine during the night, 15 were fired in several waves at Kharkiv, it was also said. The Ukrainian air defense was only able to repel part of it.

Head of government: Ukraine needs help with air defense

According to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, the Ukrainian armed forces currently primarily need weapons help to ward off Russian air attacks. "What do we need most? In my opinion, air defense systems and missiles are the top priority," he said during a visit to Estonia. Accordingly, Ukraine lacks equipment to protect cities and energy facilities. "The second priority is ammunition for artillery," Shmyhal said after meeting his counterpart Kaja Kallas in Tallinn.

Kallas assured Ukraine of further military support for Estonia and also called on other countries to increase their military aid. "We must support Ukraine for as long as necessary and - just as importantly - to the extent necessary. We must act now, we must not waste any time," she emphasized. "Ukraine needs supplies urgently and quickly." Estonia is one of Ukraine's staunchest supporters.