US President Joe Biden meets Ukrainian refugees in Poland, March 27, 2022 (Evan Vucci/AP)

EA on BBC: Putin Hesitates Over His Invasion of Ukraine

Saturday’s Coverage: Is Putin Pulling Back on His Invasion?


In his interview with independent Russian journalists, Zelenskiy noted talks for exchanges of prisoners and continued:

We’ve asked Russians to come pick up their dead troops. They aren’t doing it. Even dead cats and dogs are treated better. I hate them because they invaded, but you have to still be human. What are their parents thinking?

This is scary because if this is how they treat their own, how will they treat others?”

The President also spoke about the future of Ukraine and Russians — “relations were broken everywhere, some irreversibly” — and reflected with sadness:

I’m deeply disappointed in the large number of Russians who support [the war], for many different reasons. I don’t want to say this is all brainwashing or propaganda. On the one hand, yes, but let’s be honest, it’s also justification. You can’t just not notice a war that has been going on for so many years.


Speaking for 92 minutes with independent Russian journalists, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has expressed his belief that Vladimir Putin was misled by advisors who said Ukrainians would welcome “liberation” by Russian troops.

Zelenskiy spoke of the “humanitarian disaster” in besieged Mariupol — “no food, medicine or water can be brought in given the continuous bombardment”:

The President spoke of the ongoing resistance within the city, even with Russian troops holding part of it.

I told them that if they need to leave, and that it’s the right thing to do to save their lives, I understand how that may look as a soldier, but you should do it. I gave them that choice. They told me, “Listen, we can’t. There are wounded people here. We won’t leave them, and we won’t leave the dead.”


The military monitor Oryx notes visual confirmation of Russia’s loss of 300 tanks — equivalent to the entire stock of the French Army and half that of the British Army:


The head of the Russia proxy “Lugansk People’s Republic” has pointed to a long-term Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine.

Leonid Pasechnik told reporters on Sunday, “I think that in the near future a referendum will be held on the territory of the republic where people will exercise their constitutional right and express their opinion on joining Russia. For some reason, I am sure that this is exactly how it will be.”

Russia used the same tactic for the occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014.

Ukraine Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko responded:

All fake referendums in the temporarily occupied territories are null and void and will have no legal validity.

Instead, Russia will face an even stronger response from the international community, further deepening its global isolation.


Japan’s three major banks are suspending dollar transactions and money transfers with Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, in line with US sanctions against the financial institution.

MUFG Bank, Mizuho Bank, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp had been settling dollar transactions with Sberbank via the US.

Sberbank, used by many Japanese companies in Russia, had avoided exclusion from the SWIFT global transactions network.

The three Japanese banks have already halted transactions with other major Russian institutions, including Russia’s second-largest bank VTB when it was cut off from SWIFT on March 12.

MUFG Bank is also halting the transfer of money to Sberbank in other foreign currencies.


Following President Joe Biden’s statement that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has repeated the White House line that this is not a call for “regime change” in Russia.

Blinken told reporters:

I think the President, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken said during a visit to Jerusalem.

As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia — or anywhere else, for that matter.

French President Emmanuel Macron distanced himself from Biden’s language, telling broadcaster France 3, “I would not use those words.”

Macron said, “Everything must be done to stop the situation from escalating”. He said he is seeking “first a ceasefire and then the total withdrawal of [Russian] troops by diplomatic means. If we want to do that, we can’t escalate either in words or actions.”


Ukraine has asked the Red Cross not to open an office in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don near the Ukrainian border, saying it will legitimize the Russian abduction and deportation of civilians.

Red Cross head Peter Maurer said on Thursday, after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, that an agreement between Russian and Ukrainian militaries is needed before civilians can be evacuated from Ukraine.


Russian media said Maurer had asked Russia for the opening of the Rostov office.

Mykhailo Radutskyi, the chairman of the Ukraine Parliament’s public health committee, responded:

The Committee calls on the International Committee of the Red Cross that it would not legitimise ‘humanitarian corridors’ on the territory of the Russian Federation as well as that it would not support the abduction of Ukrainians and its forced deportation.

Ukrainian officials say Russia has forcibly deported more than 400,000 civilians, including 15,000 from the besieged city of Mariupol, across the border.


The Institute of Mass Media in Ukraine reports 148 crimes against journalists and the media during the Russian invasion.

Five journalists have been killed, six captured or kidnapped, and seven wounded.

The slain journalists are filmmaker Brent Renaud, investigative reporter Oksana Baulina of The Insider, Oleksandra Kuvshynova and Pierre Zakrzewski of Fox News, and Yevhenii Sakun, a cameraman for the Ukrainian television channel LIVE.


Russian forces are reportedly turning to white phosphorus, whose use on populated areas is banned under international law, to try and break Ukrainian resistance.

Images appeared to show white phosphorus munitions dropped on the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian lieutenant asked Christopher Miller of Buzzfeed to circulate the photos, saying his positions are being pounded by Russian artillery 14 hours a day: “I don’t know how much time we can hold on.”

Russia has used white phosphorus extensively during its military intervention propping up the Assad regime in Syria, hoping to break the will of anti-Assad forces and civilians to force surrenders.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Calling for the necessary effort in Ukraine and beyond to check Vladimir Putin’s aggression, US President Joe Biden has spoken of the “long fight ahead”.

In a two-day visit to Poland, Biden met Ukrainian and Polish officials and some of the 2.1 million Ukrainians who have fled across the border. He pledged more military aid and “further defense cooperation” with Kyiv.

Then he delivered a speech invoking the stand for freedom in the Cold War and beyond.

We emerged anew in the great battle for freedom. The battle between democracy and autocracy. Between liberty and repression. Between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force.

This battle will not be won in days or months. We need to steel ourselves for a long fight ahead.

He twice referenced the 1979 speech of Pope John Paul II, a Pole, “Be Not Afraid” as he told an audience which often broke into applause, “The battle for democracy did not conclude with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today Russia has strangled democracy and sought to do so elsewhere, not just in its homeland.”

Having denounced Putin as a “butcher” in comments to reporters, Biden explained:

There is simply no justification or provocation for Russia’s choice of war.

It’s an example of one of the oldest human impulses, using brute force and disinformation to satisfy a craving for absolute power and control. It’s nothing less than a direct challenge to the rule-based international order established since the end of World War Two.

The President appealed, in an impromptu remark, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

The White House later distanced itself from any effort for “regime change” inside Russia, noting that Biden has repeatedly spoken about Putin losing power in his quest to dominate Ukraine and the region.

Noting Putin was “bent on violence”, Biden addressed the Russian leader, “Don’t even think about moving on to one single inch of NATO territory.”

Responding in his nightly video address to the nation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for even more military support. He said delivery of planes and tanks to Ukraine was necessary for Europe security: “Who runs the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it still Moscow because of intimidation?”

He referred to about 150,000 residents of Mariupol in southern Ukraine still holding out against a Russian siege which has killed thousands of people; cut off heat, water, and electricity; and brought civilians to the point of starvation.

I wish at least a percentage of their courage to those who have been thinking for 31 days how to transfer a dozen or two of planes or tanks.

It is impossible to unblock Mariupol without a sufficient number of tanks, other armoured vehicles and, of course, aircraft. All defenders of Ukraine know that….The United States knows that. All European politicians know.

Stalled Russia Fires Missiles on Lviv

Russia again failed to make any notable advances on Friday, with reports that Ukrainian forces have regained small towns and villages in both the north and southeast of the country.

Instead, Moscow lashed out at Biden’s visit by firing six missiles on Lviv, in nearby western Ukraine, injuring at least five people and hitting a fuel depot.

The Kremlin also blustered about its stockpile of 6,000 nuclear weapons. Dmitry Medvedev, former President and now deputy chairman of the Security Council, said Moscow could resort to “first use” if it was threatened by conventional weapons. Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said nuclear “readiness” is a priority.

Zelenskiy responded in a video address to the Doha Forum in Qatar, “Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet.”

On Friday, the Kremlin indicated that it was pulling back on its initial objective of toppling the Zelenskiy Government and occupying most of Ukraine, instead concentrating on bolstering Russian proxy areas in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukraine Defense Ministry’s intelligence head Brig. Gen. Kirill Budanov said Saturday, “This is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine.”

The Institute for the Study of War assessed on Friday that Russia’s change in focus came out of weakness, rather than from Moscow’s boast that Phase 1 objectives had “general been accomplished”.

The military analysts said the “increasingly static nature of the fighting around Kyiv reflects the incapacity of Russian forces rather than any shift in Russian objectives or efforts at this time”.

However, it noted that Russian forces are likely to finally “bisect” Mariupol in the coming days, gaining control in the “relatively near future”, while pointing to the wider significance for eastern Ukraine of the city’s resistance:

The scale of Russian losses in the fight for Mariupol will determine whether the city’s fall will permit Russia to renew large-scale combat operations in eastern Ukraine. It is too soon to tell, but current indicators suggest that Russian losses have been and will continue to be high.

The Institute also noted problems for Russia even in the coastal corridor in southern Ukraine, the one area where Russian forces have occupied cities.

It cited Kherson, the first city seized by Russia, where residents are “resisting Russian control in ways that are driving the Russian military and national guard to concentrate forces on securing it. The requirement to secure captured cities can impose a significant cost on over-stretched Russian forces and hinder their ability to conduct offensive operations.”

Beyond the south, Ukrainian officials spoke of increasing concern that Russia is replicating the siege tactics around Chernihiv, about 100 miles north of Kyiv.

Unable to conquer the city, Russian forces blew up the bridge to Kyiv earlier this week as they continued to kill civilians with bombardments. Half of Chernihiv’s residents have fled, but about 150,000 remain.

The Ukraine Parliament also noted another Russian attack on a nuclear research reactor in Kharkiv in the northeast.

The Russians attacked the scientific institute earlier this month, killing one person.