Chris Lange, FISM News
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Thursday as part of the U.S. lawmakers’ push for legislation that would classify Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“Bicameral and bipartisan support is really important for Ukraine. We feel it, we feel this unity,” Zelenskyy said of the senators’ visit, according to a presidential office report.
Ukraine’s leader said that both political parties in the U.S. “support Ukraine very fundamentally,” as evidenced by the resolution, which Zelenskyy said he hopes “will be brought to fruition.”
Blumenthal referenced the horrific images of mass torture and executions that occurred in Bucha under Russian occupation as enough evidence to designate Russia as a terrorist state.
“If that isn’t terrorism, I don’t know what is,” he told Reuters Thursday.
Zelenskyy provided the senators with war updates concerning Russia’s latest attacks, including strikes in Kharkiv and Donbas regions in eastern Ukraine that coincided with their arrival.
The Ukrainian president said he hoped the meeting would ensure that “our partners have accurate information about our defense needs” and stressed the importance of air defense to combat the ongoing attacks. Zelenskyy has expressed concern in recent weeks that the West is growing weary of the prolonged war and its costs.
The three men also reportedly discussed using U.S. weapons systems to reclaim Russian-occupied territory in the Donbas, including long-range artillery as well as hand-to-hand combat.
Russia hands down first prison sentence for anti-war remarks
A Moscow court sentenced a municipal council member to seven years in prison Friday for voicing opposition to the war in Ukraine.
Alexei Gorinov, 60, was found guilty of spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian military, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison under a wartime law Russia’s parliament signed off on days after the Feb. 24 invasion.
Gorinov, who was arrested in April, is the first elected representative in Russia to be charged under the law, further raising the stakes for those who speak out against the war.
Ukraine official says captured city is on the brink of ‘catastrophe’
Elsewhere, a Ukrainian regional official warned that a humanitarian ‘catastrophe’ is rapidly unfolding in the Russian-occupied city of Sievierodonetsk. Gov. Serhiy Haidai said living conditions in the eastern city that fell to Russia two weeks ago have deteriorated rapidly, noting that remaining residents are without power or a working sewage system while dead bodies decompose in hot apartment buildings.
The governor also said that Russia continues to unleash indiscriminate artillery fire in the Luhansk province. Earlier this week, Moscow officials declared full control of Luhansk, but Haidai and other Ukrainian officials denied the claim.
“Luhansk hasn’t been fully captured even though the Russians have engaged all their arsenal to achieve that goal,” Haidai told The Associated Press as he described ongoing battles in several villages on the region’s border.
Haidai has accused Russia of using “scorched earth” tactics, saying its forces “strike every building that they think could be a fortified position.”
“They aren’t stopped by the fact that civilians are left there and they die in their homes and courtyards. They keep firing,” Haidai said.