Biden to send more weapons to Ukraine in fight against Russia, welcome refugees

More American weapons will soon be on the way to Ukraine as its forces face off with Russia across eastern Ukraine. President Biden made that announcement today, and said the U.S. would welcome tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees to the country.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Well, more American weapons will soon be on the way to Ukraine. President Biden made that announcement today, as Ukrainian forces brace for a tough fight with Russia's military across Eastern Ukraine.

    Biden also announced a new program for Americans to sponsor Ukrainians who want to come to the U.S., part of his commitment to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

    In the meantime, the Russian siege of Mariupol continues, and new evidence emerged of mass graves outside the nearly flattened city.

    Special correspondent Willem Marx reports.

  • Willem Marx:

    After weeks of brutal battles in the besieged city of Mariupol, today, Moscow claimed victory. In a televised meeting of the Kremlin, Russia's defense minister formally declared the long siege a success.

  • Sergei Shoigu, Russian Defense Minister (through translator):

    The armed forces of the Russian Federation and the people's militia of the Donetsk People's Republic have liberated Mariupol.

  • Willem Marx:

    And for the final few Ukrainian forces still fighting and the city's giant Azovstal steel plant Putin had an ultimatum: Surrender or die.

  • Vladimir Putin,Russian President (through translator):

    We invite all those who have not yet laid down their arms to do so. Block off this industrial area, so that a fly cannot pass through.

  • Willem Marx:

    Mariupol's mayor, no longer in the city, responded to Russia's assertion of control.

    Vadym Boychenko, Mayor of Mariupol, Ukraine (through translator): The city was, is, and remains Ukrainian today. So it doesn't matter what statements are made there in Russia.

  • Willem Marx:

    For the 120,000 Mariupol residents now behind Russian lines, little is left standing. Russian state TV today showed footage of a hospital carved out from the inside. The wards, they say, no longer welcome the living, but the morgue still accepts the city's dead.

    Satellite imagery released today shows what seems to be a new mass grave just 20 miles west of the city. A senior U.S. defense official has confirmed Mariupol is still not under full Russian control.

    But Moscow's forces continue to advance south from Izyum into the Donbass region, with others expected to head north from Crimea. Today, the U.S. pledged another $800 million in arms for the fight in the Donbass, including howitzers, unmanned drones and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

    As Mr. Biden announced the new package, he seemed to address his Russian counterpart, President Putin.

  • President Joe Biden:

    He's betting on Western unity will crack. He's still betting on that. And, once again, we're going to prove him wrong.

  • Willem Marx:

    Biden also promised an additional half-a-billion dollars to prop up the Ukrainian government, though the International Monetary Fund says Ukraine's stricken economy requires $5 billion a month just to function.

    In the areas now once more under Ukrainian control, reconstruction costs could be far higher, and rebuilding shattered lives will require more than just money.

    Two hours east of Kyiv, Volodymyr Kotsyurbiy wants to show us the 100-plus acres of land where he grows sunflowers, as his team tries to repair their tractors after weeks of conflict.

    So you have had tanks all the way along the edge of this field? Does it make you angry that you had Russian tanks on your land?

    Volodymyr Kotsyurbiy , Farmer (through translator): Of course. Of course. This is our land. And they came here to help us and tell us what to do.

  • Willem Marx:

    Wow.

    In the days after the invasion of Ukraine, Russian tanks took control of this territory. Since their retreat, locals like Kotsyurbiy have continued to encounter unwelcome reminders of their presence. This crater is about 15 feet wide and it's one of 10 in this single field.

    As farming communities like this one race to get crops into the soil, they're encountering problems like this they have never faced before.

    It was Ukrainian rockets that sought to strike Russian armor here. This time, the crater is the only collateral damage in an otherwise deadly conflict.

    Do you blame Ukrainians or the Russians for the damage to your field?

  • Volodymyr Kotsyurbiy (through translator):

    The damage has been done by Russians. If they hadn't come here, we would have been minding our own business and wouldn't have had any problems.

  • Willem Marx:

    For the local economy to survive, planting season needs to start now. So the craters must be filled with fresh earth fast. In the nearby village of Lukyanivka, the recovery for many residents may not be nearly so rapid, the scars of this new war marking the memorial to the last World War

    With a peacetime population of around 500, only a few dozen remained when we visited weeks after the retreat of Russian forces but amid the rubble and destruction, signs of springtime renewal, repaired power lines and rising shoots.

    For 67-year-old Olga Hudin, the road to repair may be long.

    You can just see the bullet holes everywhere smashing out the glass. All the way through to the kitchen.

    "Look at the fridge," she tells me. "It's been shot at."

    How long do you think it will take you to build everything back.

  • Olga Hudin, Lukyanivka Resident (through translator):

    To rebuild everything we would need, the fence, the house, the shed, everything, that's about 10 years of saving money to rebuild all of this. The roof has been broken. The fence is gone. The car is gone.

  • Willem Marx:

    Much of this destruction was wanton. Tank tracks crushed Olga's car. The local school and church were burned to the ground, even local beehives smashed.

    But together, as a community with money and materials, Olga says the Russian damage can be restored.

    Can you ever rebuild the village that was here before?

  • Olga Hudin (through translator):

    We will be able. We will be able. I just wish they are gone and never come back here, gone and never come back here. Our people will survive and rebuild everything.

  • Willem Marx:

    For "PBS NewsHour," I'm Willem Marx in Lukyanivka, Ukraine.

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