Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian troops invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Russian forces have since been met with “stiff resistance” from Ukrainians, according to U.S. officials.
In recent days, Russian forces have retreated from northern Ukraine, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. After graphic images emerged of civilians lying dead in the streets of Bucha, a town northwest of Kyiv, the United States and European countries accused Russia of committing war crimes.
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Two Men at War
A look at the two leaders at the center of the war in Ukraine and how they both rose to power, the difference in their leadership and what led to this moment in history.
After meeting in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a joint press conference, telling reporters Russian forces are expected to intensify pressure in Donbas and in the east.
“What Putin has done in places like Bucha and in Irpin his war crimes, have permanently polluted his reputation and the reputation of his of his government,” Johnson said.
He added, “It’s clear that what he’s doing now, he has suffered a reverse, but his retreat is tactical, and he’s going to intensify the pressure now in Donbass and in the East.”
Zelenskyy praising the U.K.’s sanctions, called for increased pressure on Russia and a boycott of Russian energy.
“The other democratic Western countries should follow the example of the United Kingdom. It’s time to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy resources, which they should increase the amount of weapons being supplied,” Zelenskyy said.
Johnson warned that the U.K. and its partners are going to increase economic pressure and will move away from the use of Russian hydrocarbons.
“The defense intelligence that we had suggested that the Russians believed that Ukraine could be engulfed in a matter of days and that Kyiv would fall in hours to them to their armies, and how wrong they were,” Johnson said.
“And I think that the Ukrainians have shown the courage of a lion, but you, Vladimir, have given the roar of that lion,” he added.
Johnson later said, “what this war is certainly producing is a clarity about the vision of a future for Ukraine, where, together with friends and partners, we, the U.K. and others supply the equipment, the technology, the intelligence so that Ukraine will never be invaded again. So that Ukraine is so fortified and so protected that Ukraine can never be bullied again, never be blackmailed again, never be threatened in the same way again.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he is committed to pressing for peace despite Russia’s attacks on civilians, according to The Associated Press.
Zelenskyy also called for countries to send Ukraine more weapons ahead of an expected surge in fighting in the east, according to the AP.
“No one wants to negotiate with a person or people who tortured this nation. It’s all understandable. And as a man, as a father, I understand this very well,” Zelenskyy told The AP. But “we don’t want to lose opportunities, if we have them, for a diplomatic solution.”
“We have to fight, but fight for life. You can’t fight for dust when there is nothing and no people. That’s why it is important to stop this war,” he said to The AP.
Zelenskyy told the AP he is confident Ukrainians would accept peace despite the horrors they witnessed in the war.
The “Stand Up for Ukraine” global pledging event and campaign raised 9.1 billion euros, or $9.8 billion (USD), for people fleeing the invasion of Ukraine.
The money raised includes 1 billion euros from the European Commission.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development also announced a loan of 1 billion euros to cover the needs of people displaced by the invasion.
Ukraine’s defense ministry said it found 132 “tormented bodies” of tortured, murdered citizens in the town of Makariv, after Russian forces retreated.
The ministry said it uncovered “new monstrous war crimes,” saying the town is “half ruined.”
-ABC News’ Mike Trew