Russian shelling continues as U.S. officials expected in Ukraine

Russian shelling continued in Ukraine Sunday despite calls for a truce for Orthodox Easter. President Volodomyr Zelenskyy also pressed the West for more powerful weapons as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to become the first top U.S. officials to travel to Ukraine since the war started. Willem Marx reports.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    Russian shelling continued in Ukraine today despite calls for a truce in observance of Orthodox Easter. The fighting prevented another attempt to open a safe passage out of Mariupol, according to Ukrainian officials.

    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also pressed the West for more powerful weapons. That's the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to become the first top U.S. officials to travel to Ukraine since the war started.

    Joining us now from Dnipro is special correspondent Willem Marx. Willem, clearly night has fallen where you are. I understand you arrived earlier this afternoon. Give us a sense of what you've seen.

  • Willem Marx:

    So we're in one of the largest cities in Ukraine around a six hour drive, Geoff, southeast of the capital cave, and it's on the Dnieper River. It's a natural barrier as a defense against movement from the east. The main arc as it were, of the conflict right now is to the east of where we are here.

    And on the drive down here, we pass through literally dozens of military checkpoints passing through trenches that have been pre dagger over the last couple of months to prepare essentially, for any fallback positions. The Ukrainians might have to make if they withdraw further back towards Kyiv.

    And frankly, up in Chernihiv where we were yesterday, one of the cities to the northeast of Kyiv, the devastation was absolutely extraordinary to the number of buildings just completely obliterated by shelling and artillery.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And as we are speaking right now, we don't have any other information beyond the fact that we know that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President Zelenskyy invited Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin to Ukraine today. Give us a sense of how that would work that sort of VIP, a choreography bringing a trip like that together. How does that happen?

  • Willem Marx:

    Well, you know, of course, reporting in DC very often these kinds of trips by senior U.S. officials are under embargo until they arrive in the country. But in terms of the logistics of getting to Kyiv itself, there's a no fly zone, so there's no commercial aircraft. We wouldn't expect any government aircraft coming in there either.

    So they might very well have taken the same kind of route that we took, which was a train from Poland via the city of Lviv. And then up in towards care. That's an overnight train, pretty comfortable in bunks, traveling by road at night, quite challenging and doing it during the daytime. It's a very long way from the Polish border. Geoff.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Special Correspondent Willem Marx. Willem, thank you for that update on.

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