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Story Publication logo April 10, 2022

Ukraine Claims Victory in Battle for Kyiv as Russian Forces Prepare for New Phase of War

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Russia is repositioning troops to the east and south of Ukraine as it moves the focus of the conflict. To oversee it, Russian President Putin is assigning the same general who previously led Russia's punishing campaign in Syria. And in Kyiv, visiting Western leaders have made new pledges for weapons. But the country's leaders say they need even more, and faster. Simon Ostrovsky reports from Kyiv.


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Geoff Bennett: In Ukraine, Russian forces are preparing for a new phase of the war in the east and south. To oversee it, Russian President Vladimir Putin is assigning the same general who previously led Russia's punishing campaign in Syria.

And in Kyiv visiting Western leaders have made new pledges for weapons but the country's leaders say they need even more and faster.

Special correspondent Simon Ostrovsky reports from Kyiv.

Simon Ostrovsky: In the eastern city of Barvinkove, soldiers and volunteers wait for war.

Vitalii, Ukrainian Army Lieutenant Colonel (through translator): During World War II the biggest tank battle happens here and I think history will repeat itself. It will be a lot of troops, it will be a fight.

Simon Ostrovsky: Some of their equipment is older than they are, but the soldiers make do.

Aleki Golubnichiy, Ukrainian Army Reserve (through translator): Ancient or not, the main thing is it works. In our hands, everything works even a stick machine. We use everything we're given.

Simon Ostrovsky: According to satellite images, Russian tanks are moving to the south and east. They'll focus on the Donbas region, parts of which are already controlled by pro-Russia separatists. Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Dmytro Kuleba, Foreign Minister, Ukraine: Ukraine won the battle for Kyiv. Now another battle is coming, the battle for Donbas.

Simon Ostrovsky: Unable to topple the capital city, Russian troops left a trail of destruction. Each day brings shocking new discoveries.

Ludmila Zabaluk, Head of the Dmytrivka Village Department (through translator): They tortured them threw them in the water. You can see where they threw them, animals beasts, there's no other way to say it.

Simon Ostrovsky: Despite the barbarity, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would continue to negotiate with Russia. He also urged Western allies to speed up weapons deliveries.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine President: All day sent, all this equipment, all this weapon they sent already us, I think it is — for some of these kinds of equipments it's too late.

Simon Ostrovsky: And in Vatican City, Pope Francis commemorated the start of Holy Week by calling for peace.

Pope Francis, Head of Catholic Church (through translator): Christ is once more nailed to the cross in mothers who mourn the unjust deaths of husbands and sons. He is crucified and refugees who flee from bombings with children in their arms. Lay down your arms and start an Easter truce.

Geoff Bennett: And Simon joins me now from Kyiv. Simon, we heard in your report the Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister say that Ukraine had won the battle of Kyiv. Do residents there feel that way? Do they feel safe now?

Simon Ostrovsky: I think residents here are still recovering from the shock of what's happened because every day there's just another shoe that drops in terms of bad news about where new graves are being found and where new victims are being found.

And so people are very much still trying to recover Ukrainian forces here, which were instrumental in defending Kyiv and defeating the Russian force that came down in this direction from the north, are now being transferred to positions in that area.

So, the Ukrainian military is now recalibrating, and people living in this region are having to come to terms with what happened here while the war continues.

Geoff Bennett: We also heard accounts today of Russian forces looting homes and stores and occupied parts of Ukraine. What have you seen?

Simon Ostrovsky: Well, I've visited several towns where Russian forces have been and each one of them except for the cities where fighting was too heavy to loot, the looting was nearly universal. We went to a little place called Ozera, near Hostemel, which was the site of really fierce fighting, but in Ozera itself, most of the houses are still intact. That's from the outside.

But once you go inside, you see what the Russian soldiers actually did to residents' property. Some of the residents I was speaking with there told me that they literally backed the truck up into the yard of many of the houses and just unloaded everything that was inside those houses of any value, put them in the back of the — in the back of the truck and drove away. Houses were completely ransacked, expensive audiovisual equipment was taken. Everything down to the silverware was even taken.

A woman told us in the Chernihiv region that they had taken even the clothes and the underwear. Her husband, who was standing next to her when she was telling me this was wearing the only clothes that he had left after the Russian soldiers had gone through their house and used it as a base for a couple of weeks after the villagers fled.

Geoff Bennett: Special correspondent Simon Ostrovsky reporting for us tonight in Kyiv. Simon, thank you.

And a note, our coverage of Ukraine is supported in part by the Pulitzer Center.

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