Mariupol .. 20 civilians leave the Azovstal complex

Twenty civilians left the Azovstal complex on Saturday, where the last Ukrainian forces were captured in the Black Sea port of Mariupol, to go to Zaporizhia, according to the Azov battalion, which ensures the site’s protection.

“Twenty civilians, including women and children, have been taken to a suitable location and we hope that they will be evacuated to Zaporizhia, which is in the area under Ukrainian control,” said Deputy Commander of the Azov Battalion, Svyatoslav Balamar. said.

“The enemy artillery bombed the outpost all night long,” Ballamer added. He continued, “The ceasefire, which should have started at 06:00, only started at 11:00. Since then, both sides have respected it.”

“The Azov battalion continues to remove the rubble to get the civilians out … We hope this procedure will continue until we can evacuate all the civilians,” the military official confirmed.

Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters and civilians are still hiding in a network of Soviet-era tunnels, many of which require medical attention.

During a press tour in Mariupol organized by the Russian army on Friday, the AFP team heard intense shelling at the Azovstal site from morning to mid-afternoon.

In the afternoon, the sounds of explosions were only seconds apart and some sounded very loud.

The latest satellite images of the company “Maxar Technologies”, taken on Friday, show destruction in almost all the buildings of the steel plant complex.

Traces of bombings appeared on the roofs of some buildings, while others collapsed completely and others were turned into rubble.

“Many leaders are trying to help save the city’s heroic defenders. We discussed this in detail with the UN Secretary – General during his visit to Kiev. We are doing everything we can to ensure that the evacuation mission from Mariupol is carried out,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video on Saturday.

In addition, the office of Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin announced that he had met with Zelensky in Kiev on Saturday. No details were given on the content of Kalin’s meetings in Kiev, but Ankara is trying to mediate between Ukraine and Russia to end the war.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking a summit in Istanbul between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelensky.

Hole near Bucha

Ukrainian authorities have announced the discovery of the bodies of hundreds of civilians following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the city of Bucha

In another field development, the bodies of three men who had been tortured and shot dead were found in a well near Bucha, their hands tied and their eyes blindfolded, Ukrainian police said on Saturday.

The small town of Bucha is located near Kiev and has become a symbol of the atrocities of a war attributed to Russia, whose forces continue to bombard the east of the country and gradually advance there.

Deviating from the restraint with which the military is commonly known, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby questioned Putin in public on Friday, acknowledging that it was “difficult to see some images” of atrocities committed against Ukrainian civilians.

“The victims have been tortured for a long time … In the end, each of them was shot in the head,” Kyiv police chief Andrei Nebitov said in a statement about the three bodies found in a well. the town of Mirotsky near Bucha was found. .

“The victims’ hands were documented, their eyes were blindfolded, and some of them covered their mouths,” he added, emphasizing that the bodies showed signs of torture.

Survivors of the Russian occupation of Bucha in March told AFP this week of prisoners kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs, summary executions and blood farms in homes.

Viktor Shatilo, a resident of Yablonska Street, where an AFP news team saw about 20 bodies belonging to civilians on April 2 after the withdrawal of Russian forces, said those who saw them “will be remembered for hundreds of years” . “

Nobody knows the number of dead

Russian forces face the same problems that prompted Moscow to halt an earlier attempt to capture the capital, Kiev

Russian forces face the same problems that prompted Moscow to halt an earlier attempt to capture the capital, Kiev

On Friday, in an interview with the Polish press, Zelensky estimated the number of bodies discovered in the Bucha region at 900.

He added that with Russian soldiers burning and burying the bodies, “no one knows the number of dead.”

The Ukrainian prosecutor general has charged ten Russian soldiers with possible crimes in Bucha, and has counted more than 8,000 war crimes in Ukraine, while United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who visited Bucha on Thursday, called on Moscow to “cooperate” with the International Criminal Court’s investigation.

But Moscow has denied any responsibility and regarded the scenes as a charade. The Russian army went so far as to bombard Kiev while Guterres was there, killing a journalist and provoking international condemnation.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Saturday, following a telephone conversation with Zelensky, that “the mission of French experts involved in gathering evidence to fight impunity and the work of the international judiciary related to crimes within the framework of Russian aggression will be expanded. “

He added that France would send more military equipment to Ukraine, especially long-range rifles, to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On the ground, the Ukrainian forces, which have thwarted the Russian army’s attack on Kiev since February 24, face difficulties in repelling the march of this numerically superior army in the east of the country.

Zelensky acknowledged on Friday that the situation was “difficult” in the Kharkiv region, the second largest city in the country, near the Russian border.

Violent explosions were heard Friday in the city, which has been bombed by Russian artillery for weeks. The bombing left one dead and several wounded on Friday.

“If it was an infantry war against the infantry, we would have had a chance. But in this area there is mainly an artillery war and we do not have enough of it,” Viking, a 27-year-old first sergeant who withdrew from Kremena, the eastern town that the Russians occupied on April 18, told AFP.

Westerners, including the United States, France and Britain, have promised to supply hundreds of howitzers to the Ukrainians, but time is running out.

Goals will be achieved

Western capitals believe Russians could be expelled from Ukraine

Western capitals believe Russians could be expelled from Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that all the objectives of the “special military operation”, the Kremlin’s phrase on this war, “will be achieved despite hindrance by our opponents.”

In an interview published by the official China News Agency on Saturday, he called on Westerners to stop supplying Kiev with weapons if they were “really interested in resolving the Ukrainian crisis.”

In addition, Zelensky stressed that the Ukrainian army had achieved “tactical” successes, as is the case in Ruska Lozova, a village north of Kharkiv that was recaptured by Ukrainian forces after the Russians bombed the city from there.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense announced that the village, which had been controlled by Russian forces for two months, had been liberated after heavy fighting, and more than 600 of its inhabitants had been evacuated. Ukraine has also hit strategic targets on Russian soil.

Aleksandr Bogomaz, governor of the Russian Bryansk region in northeastern Ukraine, announced on Telegram that the air defense “noticed a plane of the Ukrainian armed forces”, and that two missiles had damaged oil facilities.

And many of the fuel tanks in the Russian territory in recent weeks have been the target of clear invasions by Ukrainian forces, despite Kyiv’s refusal to assert its responsibility.

The general staff of the Ukrainian forces on Saturday said 14 attacks by Russian forces in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions had been repelled in recent hours.

long term assault

Russia is currently trying to impose full control of eastern Ukraine after failing to launch an attack on Kiev

Russia is currently trying to impose full control of eastern Ukraine after failing to launch an attack on Kiev

A senior Pentagon official said on Friday that if Russian forces were “far from establishing contact” between forces entering the Kharkiv region in the north of Donbass and those coming from the south of the country, Ukrainian forces operating on the front line has been deployed around the separatist regions. of Donetsk and Luhansk, Between the two ends of the pliers it remains “creating the conditions for a broader and longer continuous attack”.

Diplomatically, while the Russian president and his Ukrainian counterpart were invited to the G20 summit to be held in Indonesia in November, the United States said it was refusing to deal with Putin “as if nothing had happened”.

prisoner exchange

Part of the aftermath of the Russian bombing of Kiev

Part of the aftermath of the Russian bombing of Kiev

At the same time, Kyiv announced on Saturday that 14 Ukrainians, including a pregnant woman, had been released as part of a new prisoner exchange process with Russia, without disclosing the number of Russians received by Moscow.

“We have carried out a new exchange of prisoners. Fourteen of us have returned home, seven soldiers and seven civilians. One of the female soldiers is five months pregnant,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshtok told Telegram.

Vereshtuk accused Russia in an interview with the BBC on Friday of “deporting” large numbers of civilians across the border and using them as “hostages”.

“They arrested all these hostages, including civilians, women and workers in local councils, to try to use them,” she said.

“We know that there are more than a thousand hostages, including about 500 women. We know that they are in prisons and detention centers in Kursk, Bryansk, Ryazan and Rostov,” she added.

Veristock also noted the difficulty of releasing women. “We are currently refusing to arrange an exchange without any women on the list. So we are somehow trying to save our women and civilians,” she said.

Many prisoners have been exchanged between Kiev and Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

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