Ukrainian First Lady’s Washington Trip Bearing Results, President Says

The results of the Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenskyy’s trip to Washington are beginning to materialize, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily address Thursday.

Zalenskyy said U.S. Senators James Risch, Benjamin Cardin, Roger Wicker, Richard Blumenthal, Rob Portman, Jeanne Shaheen and Lindsey Graham presented a draft resolution on recognition of Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide.

“According to the draft document,” Zelenskyy said, “the U.S. Senate condemns Russia for committing acts of genocide against the people of Ukraine; calls on the United States, together with NATO and EU allies, to support the government of Ukraine to prevent further acts of Russian genocide against the Ukrainian people; supports tribunals and international criminal investigations to hold Russian political leaders and military personnel accountable for war of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”

“With all its terrorist attacks against Ukrainians and our country, Russia is only burying itself,” Zelenskyy said.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy said that after holding a meeting with his military leaders and staff earlier in the day they concluded, “We have a significant potential for the advance of our forces on the front and for the infliction of significant new losses on the occupiers.”

However, Russian forces have again pounded Ukrainian cities with long-range strikes, just a day after Russia’s foreign minister warned that Moscow is preparing to expand its war in Ukraine beyond the Donbas.

Ukrainian officials Thursday said Russian shelling hit multiple districts, including a market in Kharkhiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killing three people and wounding 23 others.

Regional governor Oleg Synegubov said the dead included one child, while police and other officials said there were no military targets in the area.

“The Russian army is randomly shelling Kharkiv, peaceful residential areas, civilians are being killed,” Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.

Also Thursday, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told the Reuters news agency that Russian missile strikes destroyed two schools in Ukrainian-held Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka, while at least one missile hit the city of Bakhmut.

The renewed shelling and missile strikes come just one day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state-run media outlets that Russia is looking to expand operations due to ongoing weapon deliveries to Ukraine from the United States and other Western countries.

“Now, the geography has changed,” Lavrov told the state news RT television and RIA Novosti news agency. “It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk. It’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and several other territories. This process is continuing, consistently and persistently.”

Western intelligence officials, however, are casting doubt on Russia’s ability to make good on its threat.

“I think they’re about to run out of steam,” Richard Moore, the chief of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service, told an audience at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, Thursday.

“Our assessment is that the Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower, material over the next few weeks,” he said. “That will give Ukrainians the ability to strike back.”

Estonia’s foreign intelligence chief echoed similar sentiments late Wednesday.

“I am cautiously confident that Ukraine will defeat the Russian army in Ukraine sooner or later,” Mikk Marran, the director-general of Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, told the Aspen Forum.

“It will not come easily. It will take time and Ukraine probably might not be able to liberate all of the occupied territories, but strategically speaking Putin will not succeed,” he added.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that Russian forces were continuing small-scale assaults along the front line in the Donbas region, the part of eastern Ukraine that has been a focus of its war. 

The ministry said in its daily assessment that Russia was likely closing in on the Vuhlehirska power plant, northeast of Donetsk, and that Russian forces were prioritizing capturing critical infrastructure sites.

The U.S. on Wednesday announced plans to send four more such rocket systems to Ukraine, along with more artillery rounds.

“Ukrainian forces are now using long-range rocket systems to great effect, including HIMARS provided by the United States, and other systems from our allies and partners,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday at the Pentagon. “Ukraine’s defenders are pushing hard to hold Russia’s advances in the Donbas.”

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Ukrainians have been using U.S.-supplied multiple rocket launchers to hit Russian command centers and supply lines.

The future, Milley said, will depend on the number of long-range rockets and ammunition the Ukrainians have.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press,  Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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