April 30 (UPI) — White House Press SecretaryJen PsakiPresident recalled on FridayJoe BidenCalls to expel Russia from the G20 intergovernmental forum after President Vladimir Putin confirmed his interest in attending its summit in November.
Putin had been invited to attend by President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, who is hosting theG20summit, before the invasion ofUkraine and confirmed his presence during a call on Thursday, Widodo said. in a report.
“I reiterate the importance that the war ends peacefully and that Indonesia is ready to contribute to the peace effort,” Widodo said.
“Indonesia wants to unify the G20, so that there is no division. Peace and stability are the key to the recovery and development of the world economy.
PSAKI, who was askedduring a press briefingwhether the United States would welcome Russia’s presence at the G20, replied that “there is a lot that could happen between now and then.”
“But we certainly haven’t seen any indication so far of Russia’s plan to participate constructively in the diplomatic talks,” Psaki said.
“Our hope is certainly that this will change because obviously talks and diplomatic conversations are the way to end this conflict, and President Putin could end this tomorrow, could end this now.”
PSAki added that Biden has publicly expressed “his opposition to President Putin’s participation in the G20.”
“We welcomed the Ukrainians present – or invited to attend the G20. It’s in six months,” PSAki said. “We cannot predict at this stage what it will look like.”
During his nightly video message, Zelensky said he was “grateful” after the U.S. House on Thursdaymassively adoptedthe Ukrainian Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Law of 2022.
The bill, which passed the US Senate earlier this month, gives Biden enhanced authority to loan or lease defense equipment to Ukraine to protect civilians from Russian military invasion.
“I am grateful to the United States, to President Biden and to Congress for an analogue of the famous lend-lease program, which will be very useful in the fight against Russia,” Zelensky said, adding that such programs “have a lot helped in the fight”. against the Nazis during World War II.
“I am sure that now Lend-Lease will help Ukraine and the whole free world to defeat the ideological successors of the Nazis, who started a war against us on our land. Lend-Lease and other support programs for Ukraine are concrete proof that freedom can always defend itself against tyranny.
Zelensky said earlier on Friday that efforts were being made to get civilians safely out of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, one of the last strongholds of Ukrainian forces in the city.
The steelworks, which has an assortment of underground tunnels, was under constant attack and bombardment by the Russian military for weeks as Ukrainian forces and civilians clung to it.
Moscow has sought to take control of Mariupol, a southern port city, due to its strategic location linked to Crimea and eastern Ukraine. The Russian military claimed victory in the city last week, although Ukrainian fighters and civilians are still in the factory.
“An operation is planned today to get the civilians out of the factory,” Zelensky said, according toThe Guardian.
US military officials say Moscow has moveda large number of troopsfrom Mariupol and redeployed them to other combat hotspots. They also noted that Russia has struggled logistically in eastern Ukraine – home to Donbass and at the center of Russia’s current phase of the war – while making “slow and uneven” progress. .
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said via Twitter on Friday that Russia was still trying to fully control Donetsk and Luhansk, the regions that make up Donbass, in eastern Ukraine on Friday. Heavy fighting in the cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk was reported.
Russian forces attempted to advance south from Izyum in an effort to encircle Ukrainian forces – but these efforts were limited due to heavy Ukrainian resistance, British defense officials noted.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian broadcaster Radio Svoboda said one of its reporters was killed in a Russian missile strike in kyiv on Thursday – Moscow’s first direct attack on the Ukrainian capital in weeks. The attack surprised many Kyiv residents who had slowly begun to return to something approaching normal after two months of fighting.
“Radio Liberty journalist and producer Vera Girich has died as a result of a Russian missile hitting the house where she lived in Kyiv,” Radio Svoboda said according to The Guardian. “The bombardment took place on [Thursday]. The body of the deceased was found under the wreckage [Friday] Morning.”
The station said Girich had worked at the outlet’s Kyiv office since 2018. Prior to that, she was known nationwide as a reporter for Ukrainian TV channels.
The missile attack in Kyiv on Thursday came on the same day as the UN secretary generalAnthony Guterresvisited Zelensky there.
“Countries around the world will recognize that they cannot see their UN Secretary-General treated in this disrespectful, flippant and downright dangerous way, by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russian regime,” said Malloch Brown, former UN deputy secretary-general, according toBNC News.
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