Italy urges citizens to leave Ukraine
Italy’s foreign ministry in Kiev has advised its citizens to leave Ukraine immediately, citing “increasingly heavy missile attacks” from Russia in a message posted to the Viaggiare Sicuri website on Monday.
“Compatriots still in Ukraine are strongly advised to use the means still available, including trains, to leave the country immediately, at times when the curfew is not in force,” the message reads, warning that missile attacks have been recorded both “in Kiev and throughout Ukraine.”
“Extreme caution is advised. All travel to Ukraine, in any capacity, is strongly discouraged,” it added. Viaggiare Sicuri is operated by the Crisis Unit of the Farnesina – Italy’s foreign ministry.
The country recalled its non-essential staff from the Ukrainian embassy last year when Russia began its military operation, pointedly urging Italians to avoid the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and Crimea.
Donetsk and Lugansk have since been incorporated into Russia following referendums, while Crimea voted to become part of the country in 2014.
Ukraine reported several Russian drone and missile attacks early Monday morning, claiming it shot down 35 kamikaze drones over Kiev, while Russian Air Force bombers reportedly launched eight missiles in the direction of Odessa Region. Explosions in Chernigov and Dnepropetrovsk Regions – as well as the city of Zaporozhye – have also been reported.
While Ukraine prepares to launch a much-touted counteroffensive, its allies are reportedly concerned about Russian retaliation for attacks on Crimea, with some Western politicians reportedly suggesting Kiev leave the peninsula alone. Ukrainian drones have reportedly struck several targets there in the last week. RT
West must be ready for unfavorable outcome in Ukraine – Czech president
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine may not end in victory for Kiev, and its Western backers should prepare for such an outcome, Czech President Petr Pavel has told The Guardian newspaper.
“I think we should do anything… at our disposal to encourage Ukrainians and to support them to be successful. But internally, we should also be ready for other contingencies,” said Pavel, who was in London for the coronation of King Charles III.
A lot will depend on the outcome of Ukraine’s planned spring counteroffensive, explained the Czech leader, who has a background in intelligence and served as chairman of the NATO Military Committee between 2015 and 2018.
Kiev shouldn’t “underestimate the Russians because they have enough manpower, they still have enough equipment,” he added.
“And of course, being in defense makes it easier for them because Ukraine will have suffered terrible losses, even if they are well prepared. So attacking an enemy like Russia will be difficult and Russians will not be caught by surprise.”
The Czech president, who visited Kiev with his Slovak counterpart Zuzana Caputova in late April, said Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky had been asking them for ammunition. Those in Kiev believe they still don’t have everything they need to launch the counteroffensive, he added.
There “might be a temptation to push them, for some, to demonstrate some results,” but the Ukrainians must be allowed to fully prepare for the assault on Russian lines, Pavel warned.
“It will be extremely harmful to Ukraine if this counteroffensive fails, because they will not have another chance, at least not this year,” he stated.
In late April, Zelensky assured foreign journalists that the “counteroffensive will happen” and expressed hope that it would be successful. Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov also said Kiev’s troops were “generally ready for the push” and were only awaiting orders from senior officials.
However, a report by Politico a few weeks ago claimed that Ukraine’s prime backer, the US, had concerns that the impact of the counteroffensive could fall short of expectations.
Russia, which has been building fortifications along the frontline for the past six months, has been saying that it’s ready to repel the attack. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin warned last week that the counteroffensive would have “deplorable consequences” for Kiev. RT