Ukraine morning briefing: NATO plan to repel Russia as 250,000 flee homes

Plans are being drawn-up to “transform” NATO in the wake of the Vladimir Putin regime’s invasion of Ukraine, so that the military alliance would be able to repel an invasion by Russia along its eastern borders.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told The Telegraph that NATO was “in the midst of a very fundamental transformation” in response to the invasion of Ukraine. And he said the alliance’s new “strategic concept” would also, for the first time, acknowledge that the “rise of China, the shifting global balance of power, has direct consequences for NATO”.

Mr Stoltenberg said that NATO’s small “tripwire” force on its Eastern border – in former Soviet states like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – “would be transformed into a major force capable of taking on an invading army”. He said that NATO now had 40,000 troops stationed along its eastern borders – a force that is nearly 10 times the size it was before Russia’s invasion.

Mr Stoltenberg said: “What we see now is a new reality, a new normal for European security,” said Mr Stoltenberg. “Therefore, we have now asked our military commanders to provide options for what we call a reset, a longer-term adaptation of NATO. I expect that NATO leaders will make decisions on this when they meet in Madrid at the NATO summit in June. “

More than 400,000 eastern Ukrainians ordered to abandon their homes

more than 400,000 in people in eastern Ukraine have been ordered to abandon their homes, as artillery fire rains down on the region ahead of a predicted major new Russian offensive in the area.

A destroyed apartment building is seen on April 9, 2022 in Borodianka, Ukraine.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gadai said that more than 250,000 people acted on the order to flee – but as many as 120,000 residents have stayed behind. Mr Gaidai said approximately 30 per cent of the area’s residents remained in the area’s cities and villages, despite being told to leave. “‘They [The Russians] are amassing forces for an offensive and we see the number of shellings has increased,” he warned residents.

An estimated 10 million people in Ukraine have now been displaced by the war.

More evidence civilians are being targeted, says UK MoD

The UK’s Ministry of Defense says there is more evidence that civilians are being targeted. In an intelligence update issued late on Saturday night, the MoD said: “ Russia’s departure from northern Ukraine leaves evidence of the disproportionate targeting of non-combatants including the presence of mass graves, the fatal use of hostages as human shields, and mining of civilian infrastructure.

“Russian forces continue to use IEDs to inflict casualties, lower morale, and restrict Ukrainian freedom of movement. Russian forces also continue to attack infrastructure targets with a high risk of collateral harm to civilians, including a nitrate acid tank at Rubizhne.”

Boris Johnson vowed UK will lead Kyiv rebuild, says President Zelensky

Boris Johnson has promised the UK will lead the rebuilding of Kyiv, President Volodmyr Zelensky has said. In his daily address, released after the UK Prime Minister’s surprise visit to Ukraine’s capital, Mr Zelesnky said: “We have already decided what help the United Kingdom will provide to the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.

“The British people are ready to take patronage over the restoration of Kyiv and the Kyiv region.”

Mr Johnson has said the West will supply Ukraine with the equipment it needs and Downing Street has said Britain would be sending 120 armored vehicles as well as new anti-ship missile systems.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, shake hands during their walk in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 9, 2022.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, shake hands during their walk in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 9, 2022.

“I think that the Ukrainians have shown the courage of a lion, and you Volodymyr have given the roar of that lion,” said Mr Johnson. “The UK and others (will) supply the equipment, the technology, the know-how, the intelligence, so that Ukraine will never be invaded again. So Ukraine is so fortified and protected – that Ukraine can never be bullied again. Never be blackmailed again. Never be threatened in the same way again.”

Zelensky ‘committed to seeking peace’ despite atrocities

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that he is committed to pressing for peace despite Russian attacks on civilians that have stunned the world, and he renewed his plea for countries to send more weapons ahead of an expected surge in fighting in the country’s east.

He made the comments in an interview with The Associated Press a day after at least 52 people were killed in a strike on a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, and as evidence of civilian killings came to light after Russian troops failed to seize the capital where he has hunkered down, Kyiv.

“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,” Mr Zelensky said. “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.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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