In the first smart thing they’ve done since the war began, the Russians have banned Kamala Harris and Mark Zuckerberg from their country…Mass graves found outside of Kyiv and Mariupol…More US economic and military aid on the way to Ukraine…Putin getting pushback at home.

***

Putin claims to have captured Mariupol, blockading the last defenders. The Ukes say they still hold the city. “Whatever statements are made – the city is and will be a Ukrainian city,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said, brushing off Putin’s claim of victory. Biden agreed.

“There is no evidence yet that Mariupol has completely fallen,” he said when asked about Putin’s announcement of Ukrainian capitulation.

***

Ukraine wants its kidnapped citizens back…”This is a difficult procedure that will require intermediary countries or international institutions that will allow us to bring people back. I’d like to note that this will also be a war,” top Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said. “After the war, there will be a war to take our people back.”

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***

The Pentagon said Thursday that it will deliver over 120 “Phoenix Ghost” drones designed by the U.S. Air Force for Ukrainian “needs.”

“The fighting in the Donbas is going to be heavily reliant on artillery,” a senior U.S. defense official said. “Artillery systems and artillery rounds are what the Ukrainians say they need and we think they’re saying it with good reason. It’s no surprise that the Russians are also relying on artillery and bringing in artillery enablers before they started to bring in ground forces.” The Phoenix can target artillery systems.

How was the weapon modified? “It’s based on talking to the Ukrainians about what they need,” the official said. “It’s very much tied to the fight that they’re in, in the Donbas and what that region, from a terrain perspective, portends for the use of force.”

***

In more proof of Russian barbarism, satellite images Thursday show a mass grave site outside of Mariupol.

“According to recent media reports, Russian soldiers have been taking the bodies of people killed in Mariupol to this location,” defense satellite sources said in a statement. Mass graves have also been found outside of Kyiv.

***

Biden bans Russian ships…“That means no ship that sails under the Russian flag or that is owned or operated by Russian interests is allowed to dock in a United States port or access our shores. None,” he said.

***

Kharkiv is taking it…”Huge blasts, the Russian Federation is furiously bombing the city,” Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.

“In all parts of the city there have been damage. In all parts of the city, multiple-story buildings have been destroyed, people have lost their homes,” he added.

***

The Chinese are playing the Russians for suckers…FNC: UnionPay, China’s version of Visa and Mastercard, is refusing to work with banks in Russia over concerns about having sanctions imposed on the credit card processing company, Russian news outlets reported Wednesday.

The move takes away another financial option for Russian banks after Visa and Mastercard pulled out of the country following the Ukrainian invasion. Russian banks Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank had previously announced they planned to switch to UnionPay.

U.S. officials have warned that companies or governments that undermine Russian sanctions will face consequences. Beijing is an ally of Moscow and has avoided criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

***

The cracks in the regime are starting to show…Putin Critics in the Kremlin “believe the invasion was a catastrophic mistake that will set the country back for years,” Bloomberg News is reporting.

They say the decision to invade Ukraine was made only by Putin and several cronies such as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russian General Valery Gerasimov and Nikolai Patrushev, who heads the Security Council of Russia. The critics are covering themselves in case the whole thing goes south and someone has to pick up the pieces. If that happens, Putin won’t be around to retaliate or protect his pals.

This piece was written by David Kamioner on April 21, 2022. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Drew Berquist.