KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has spoken out against the war in Ukraine, stating that a cease-fire will not be agreed upon unless it forms part of a “just and lasting” peace deal with Russia’s military withdrawal. During his visit to Finland, Blinken declared that any cease-fire that simply froze current lines in place would allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to consolidate control over the territory he has seized, rest, and rearm, with the potential to re-attack. Blinken also stated that Russia must pay a share of Ukraine’s reconstruction and must be held accountable for launching its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
Blinken has outlined that allowing Moscow to keep the one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory it has occupied would send the wrong message to Russia and other aggressors globally. The United States stated they are ready to support peace efforts by other countries, including China and Brazil. However, any peace agreement must uphold the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence. The United States is a leading Western ally and supplier of arms to Kyiv to help it push back against the Kremlin’s forces.
In Ukraine, air defenses have shot down more than 30 Russian cruise missiles and drones, local authorities report. This marks Moscow’s sixth air attack in six days on Kyiv. The Ukrainian capital was simultaneously attacked by Iranian-made Shahed drones and cruise missiles from the Caspian region, causing damage to private houses, outbuildings, and cars and leaving one 68-year-old man and an 11-year-old child wounded.
The Chief of Staff, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, stated that Ukraine had intercepted all 15 cruise missiles and 21 attack drones. However, Ukraine’s presidential office reported Friday that at least four civilians had been killed and 42 others wounded over the previous 24 hours. The recent spate of attacks has tested the strength of Ukraine’s air defenses as Kyiv officials plot an upcoming counteroffensive to push back against the Kremlin’s forces, 15 months after their full-scale invasion.
Russia once again came under fire from Ukraine in the latest border regions, with cross-border raids rattling those regions of Russia and putting the Kremlin on guard. The U.K. Ministry of Defense stated that Russian commanders now face an acute dilemma of whether to strengthen defenses in Russia’s border regions or reinforce their lines in occupied Ukraine. Some experts believe that Moscow’s current strategy of targeting Kyiv could backfire, potentially limiting their ability to meaningfully constrain potential Ukrainian counteroffensive actions.
In other news, China, which stated its neutrality and desire to serve as a mediator, has urged countries to stop sending weapons to Ukraine. Meanwhile, border regions of Russia have also come under attack from Ukraine, with two drones attacking energy facilities in Russia’s western region.
The recent developments in Ukraine have put a strain on the residents, and the world watches with bated breath as officials plan their upcoming counteroffensive. For Antony Blinken and the United States, the priority remains a peace deal that protects the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.