Ukraine accuses Russia of destroying Donbass


An aerial photo of the city of Mariupol, the strategic Ukrainian port bombed by Russian forces on April 12, 2022 afp_tickers

This content was published on 17 Apr 2022 – Jul 04:55,

(AFP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia on Sunday of wanting to “destroy” the entire Donbass region (east), promising to do everything in its power to defend it, starting with the strategic port city of Mariupol.

“Russian soldiers are preparing to launch an offensive in the east of our country in the near future. They literally want to eliminate and destroy Donbass,” Zelensky said in a video message. “Just as Russian soldiers are destroying Mariupol, they want to destroy other cities and communities in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions,” he added.

Addressing his fellow citizens, he added: “Do not cooperate with the occupiers.”

The Ukrainian prime minister, for his part, stressed that Mariupol’s defenders would “fight to the end” after the expiry of a deadline set by Russia for them to lay down their arms and the city in southeastern Ukraine. to evacuate, whose capture would be a major victory for Moscow.

In Kharkiv, in the northeast of the country, at least five people were killed on Sunday and 20 others were injured in airstrikes that caused fires, medics told AFP.

AFP journalists at the scene heard gunshots and saw five fires spreading in residential areas in the city center.

And the Russian forces announced that they had bombed another weapons factory near Kiev for the third consecutive day on Sunday, after threatening to intensify attacks on the Ukrainian capital in response to the destruction of the command of its navy in the Black Sea. .

On Saturday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the situation in Mariupol as “inhumane” and called on the West to “immediately” provide Kiev with the heavy weapons they have been calling for for weeks. Russian forces say they have taken the city almost completely after heavy fighting, with the exception of a resistance enclave.

Zelensky’s remarks were published at a time when the Russian Ministry of Defense asked Ukrainian fighters trapped in the Azovstal mineral complex to stop fighting at 6:00 Moscow time (0300 GMT) on Sunday and the building before 1300 (10:00 GMT) to evacuate.

The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed via Telegram that “everyone who surrenders their weapons will be guaranteed their safety … This is their only chance.”

But with the deadline set by Russia, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal said in an interview broadcast on Sunday by the American channel “ABC” that the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol still control parts of the city and ” will fight to the end. “

“No, the city has not fallen. Our army and our soldiers are still there. They will fight to the end. As I speak to you, they are still in Mariupol.”

Early Sunday morning, the Ukrainian General Staff reported on Russian airstrikes on the city from the Donetsk and Tavria regions.

Russia’s conquest of this city will be a major victory, as it will enable it to consolidate its profits in the coastal region overlooking the Sea of ​​Azov by the Donbass region, part of which is controlled by its loyalists. , to connect with the Crimea, which annexed it in 2014.

Putin ‘thinks he wins the war’ –

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, said the latter believed he was winning the war unleashed by his February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

“I think he has his own logic in the war … I imagine he thinks he wins the war,” Nehamer said in an interview with the American “NBC” channel.

In turn, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in an interview with the Corriere della Sera newspaper on Sunday that he regretted the ineffectiveness of the “dialogue” with Putin, pointing out that these contacts did not include the continuation of “terror” in Ukraine.

In statements to CNN, Zelensky said he had invited the French president to visit Ukraine to witness first-hand the “genocide” committed by Russian forces, pointing out that Emmanuel Macron has so far refused to use this term.

“The situation in Mariupol is still dangerous … and simply inhumane,” Zelensky said in a video message. “This is what the Russian Federation did. It did it on purpose,” he added, accusing Russia of “deliberately trying to liquidate anyone in Mariupol.”

He stressed that there are “two options … Either the partners will provide Ukraine with all the necessary heavy weapons and aircraft … immediately” to “reduce pressure on Mariupol and lift the siege” of the city where 441 000 people lived before the start of the Russian invasion.

He added that the second option “is the way of negotiation, where the role of the partners must also be crucial,” and stressed that the search for a “military or diplomatic” solution has been a “daily” job since the beginning. of the siege, but it turns out to be “very difficult”.

– Hungry civilians –

Prior to that, the Ukrainian president had threatened to suspend peace talks with Moscow if the last Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol were “liquidated”. He pointed out that the people trapped in Mariupol were being deprived of food, water and medicine, and accused the Russians of “refusing” to establish humanitarian corridors.

World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said more than 100,000 civilians were on the brink of starvation in Mariupol, which has no water and heating resources.

As for casualties, Zelensky said it could be “ten times larger in Mariupol than in Borodianka” the area near Kiev devastated by bombing and where Russia was accused of committing offenses during its occupation.

In turn, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk on Sunday demanded that a route be opened to evacuate wounded soldiers from Mariupol.

At the same time, it announced the suspension of humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from eastern Ukraine in the absence of an agreement with the Russian army on a ceasefire.

As for the Kyiv region, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Sunday that it had fired high-precision missiles at an ammunition factory near Brovary. Igv Saboyko, mayor of Brovary, said the bombing hit “part of the infrastructure” in the early hours of Sunday morning.

In the last three days, Russian forces have launched several attacks on arms factories in and around Kiev in response to the loss of the warship Moscow in the Black Sea.

The Ukrainians say they sank it by bombarding it with Neptune missile missiles. The Pentagon confirmed that the Russian ship was hit by two Ukrainian missiles on Thursday.

But Russian authorities did not acknowledge this bill, stressing that a fire caused an explosion of ammunition on board the ship, which sank hours later as it was being towed.

In the east, the Russian Ministry of Defense on Sunday confirmed that “high-precision missiles destroyed fuel and ammunition depots” in Parvenkov (Izyum region) and in Dopropilia, not far from Donetsk.

The Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, Sergey Gaidai, announced on Sunday that “the bombing of the region continues.” He said the town of Zolot was hit very hard today. They deliberately targeted a five-story building … Two people were killed and five wounded.

On Friday, a Russian attack targeted a complex in the Kyiv region producing “Neptune” missiles.

And on Saturday, one person was killed and “several” people were taken to hospital after a Russian attack targeted an industrial complex in the Darnitsky district near Kiev where tanks are being manufactured, according to the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko.

This came after Kiev and its environs were relatively spared from bombing since the Russian army withdrew from this area at the end of March. But the loss of Moscow angered Moscow.

In the Odessa region of southern Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed on Saturday that “the Russian air defense defense has shot down a Ukrainian military transport aircraft transporting a large bundle of weapons supplied by Western countries” to Ukraine.

In Kharkiv, AFP correspondents reported that they saw a blood-stained coat next to a pool of blood in one place. One of the residents reported that he heard the explosion of between six and eight missiles.

“The whole house was shaking,” 71-year-old Svetlana Peligina told AFP as she inspected her ruined apartment.

– Prayer ‘for victory’ –

While the Ukrainians celebrated Palm Sunday, Pope Francis said, “Let him who has the responsibility of nations listen to the people’s call for peace” on “this Easter of war”, according to what was quoted by the Vatican News website in Arabic is.

In Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, about 40 people, mostly women, attended the Palm Sunday Mass in Sivato-Pokrovsky Church, according to an AFP correspondent.

“It is cruel, very cruel and at the same time frightening … We must pray that our soldiers will have strength and faith,” a woman said on arrival at the church, refusing to reveal her identity.

In Lviv, in the west of the country which was relatively spared from the fighting, the population celebrated Palm Sunday. Natalia Borisyuk, a 29-year-old IT worker, said she came to pray for “peace and victory”.

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