Zelensky Seeks More Weapons as U.S. Officials Set to Visit Kyiv

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky was preparing to meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Kyiv on Sunday, the highest-ranking American officials to visit the capital city since Russia’s invasion in February as the Biden administration turns up the heat.

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Zelensky wants more weapons, including more long-range air defense systems and warplanes as well as more sanctions against Russia, and more economic aid.

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“You can’t come to us empty-handed today, and we are expecting not just presents or some kind of cakes, we are expecting specific things and specific weapons,” he said at a news conference in Kyiv, as reported by several news outlets.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said it’s “a very important political symbol” for American officials to visit Ukraine and for officials from other countries “to see by their own eyes what happened, which atrocities and war crimes Russian army and Russian Federation” committed during their 58-day invasion of Ukraine .

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Last week President Joe Biden said he would be sending another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, including heavy artillary equipment.

Yevheniia Kravchuk, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, told ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos that the US sending heavy offensive weapons is “sort of a green light to other countries in Europe to give these weapons as well.”

Russia launched air strikes against the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol where Ukrainian civilians and soldiers are sheltering in underground tunnels. Russia says it controls the rest of Mariupol, a key Russian target because it would give Russia a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Six cruise missiles also hit Odessa, killing eight people in an apartment building including a mother and her 3-month-old baby.

Russia is focused on areas in the east, including the Donbass region after regrouping from Kyiv. While Zelensky announced the planned arrival of US officials, the White House had not yet confirmed the trip. Zelensky has called on Biden himself to visit, though the White House has said there are no plans for that.

Turkey closed its airspace to Russian military flights and civilian flights carrying military personnel to Syria, the Financial Times reported, quoting foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s comments to reporters.

The move is intended to push Russian President Vladimir Putin to restart negotiations with Ukraine, the Financial Times reported.

Unlike the European Union, which closed off its airspace to all Russian flights, Turkey is still allowing commercial flights to and from Russia, for tourism purposes. Turkey has not joined Western sanctions against Russia, but has sent armed drones to Ukraine’s military, the report said.

Write to Janet H. Cho at [email protected]

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Credit: www.marketwatch.com /

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