By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The U.S. secretaries of state and defense were in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Sunday as government forces battled Russian troops elsewhere, shattering hopes for an Orthodox Easter truce.
The meeting of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was confirmed by a Ukrainian official.
“Yes, they’re meeting with the president. Let’s hope something will be decided on further help,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on the video-sharing site YouTube.
Before the session with Blinken and Austin, Zelenskyy said he was looking for the Americans to produce results, both in arms and security guarantees.
That reportedly included dropping bombs on the steelworks where the last defenders of the besieged city of Mariupol were holed up. Ukrainian Authorities earlier claimed that as many as 20,000 people have died in relentless Russian shelling on Mariupol.
Ukraine also said that efforts to help civilians escape the devastated port city of Mariupol had collapsed once again
Yet, in a defiant Easter message, Ukrainian President Zelensky vowed that Ukraine “will emerge victorious” from the war.
Still, his forces faced a significant challenge, with Russia’s military reportedly hitting 423 Ukrainian targets overnight.
That includes fortified positions and troop concentrations, while its warplanes destroyed 26 Ukrainian military sites, such as an explosives factory and several artillery depots.
Since failing to capture Kyiv, Moscow aimed to gain complete control over the eastern industrial heartland, where Moscow-backed separatists controlled some territory before the war.
Despite the fighting, Ukrainians and Russians observed Orthodox Easter in this war-torn land.
Ahead of his talks with U.S. officials, Zelensky spoke from Kyiv’s ancient St. Sophia Cathedral.
Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, highlighted its significance to a nation wracked by nearly two months of the war.
“The great holiday today gives us great hope and unwavering faith that light will overcome darkness, good will overcome evil, life will overcome death, and therefore Ukraine will surely win!” he said.
Yet, in the northern village of Ivanivka, where Russian tanks still littered the roads, Olena Koptyl said, “the Easter holiday doesn’t bring any joy. I’m crying a lot. We cannot forget how we lived.”
In Moscow, an often stone-faced Russian President Vladimir Putin attended an Easter mass conducted by the Russian Orthodox Church, which strongly backed his declared “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Putin, dressed in a dark blue suit, a white shirt, and a dark purple tie, stood to one side in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral, held a lit red candle, live footage of the midnight service showed.
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