Despite the talks and the international turmoil sparked by the war scenes, Moscow continues its offensive against Ukraine on Sunday, March 13, as the battle begins on its eighteenth day.
Kiev, of which only the roads to the south remain free, is increasingly surrounded. Russian troops are trying to neutralize surrounding communities in order to ” to block “ the capital, according to the Ukrainian General Staff, and the northwestern suburbs (Irpin, Boutcha) have been heavily bombed in recent days. The nearby Vassylkiv airport was destroyed by the Moscow army on Saturday, Ukrainian authorities said.
The British Ministry of Defense estimates that Russian troops were 25 kilometers from the capital on Saturday and that a column north of the city had dispersed, reinforcing the idea of a desire to encircle. Ukrainian president promises “ruthless defense” from Kyiv.
According to Ukrainian soldiers who met Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Russian army “are forced to camp in villages when temperatures approach -10°C at night”. “They have no supplies and have to loot the houses”adds Ukrainian soldier Illia Berezenko.
balance vs balance
In the southeast of the country, the besieged city of Mariupol hopes for the arrival on Sunday of a humanitarian aid convoy that was blocked for more than five hours at a Russian checkpoint on Saturday. The deployment is crucial for this strategic port city, immersed in a situation “almost hopeless” according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) without food and without water, gas, electricity and communication.
Attempts to evacuate hundreds of thousands of civilians have repeatedly failed. Moscow recognizes that the situation “in some cities” took some “catastrophic proportions”, in the words of General Mikhail Mizintsev, quoted on Saturday by Russian news agencies. But the soldier accused the… “nationalists” Ukrainians to mine residential areas and destroy infrastructure, depriving civilians of escape routes and basic resources.
Still to the south, the metropolis of Odessa continues to prepare for an offensive by Russian forces, currently concentrating about 100 kilometers to the east in the city of Mykolaiv. The massive bombing hit a cancer center and an ophthalmology hospital in particular, an AFP journalist noted.
Volodymyr Zelensky announced in a video address on Sunday that 12,729 civilians had been evacuated through humanitarian corridors on Saturday. Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said only nine of the evacuation corridors were operational.
Victims litter the streets of certain cities, and the balances, which are impossible to verify, give rise to a new battle, that of communication. About 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Feb. 24, Zelensky said on Saturday, in the first official count provided by Ukrainian authorities since the invasion began. The Russian army lost “about 12,000 men”, says the head of state. Russia, for its part, announced its only real death toll of 498 soldiers on March 2.
At least 579 civilians were killed on Saturday, according to the United Nations census, which emphasizes that the number is probably much lower than the reality. And according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, nearly 2.6 million people have fled Ukraine since Feb. 24, in addition to about two million internally displaced persons.
Change of tone in Moscow according to Zelensky
Vladimir Putin always shows his determination. Russian president accused Ukrainian troops of “gross violations” humanitarian law, during a telephone interview with French leaders Emmanuel Macron and German Olaf Scholz. “Lies”, responded the French presidency. And phone calls from MM. Macron and Scholz together “immediate ceasefire” dead letter.
But on the diplomatic front, there may have been a shift over the weekend: Volodymyr Zelensky greeted a… “fundamentally different approach” of Moscow in his recent talks with Kiev, noting that Russia was no longer satisfied with “just set ultimatums”†
Asked about Friday’s statements by Vladimir Putin calling for “Advanced” in the Russian-Ukrainian talks, his Ukrainian counterpart said to himself: “happy with a signal from Russia”at a press conference in Kyiv.
A meeting between the heads of Russian and Ukrainian diplomacy in Turkey took place on Thursday to no avail. Previously there were three consultation sessions at delegation level. Talks that the Kremlin says will continue via videoconference.
However, Mr Zelensky regretted that the… “Western partners [de l’Ukraine] are not committed enough” with this approach.
Increased military support
The Westerners refuse to participate in the conflict, but have multiplied economic and trade sanctions against Russia and secured Kiev special military support.
So Washington on Saturday authorized a new $200 million arms aid to Ukraine, following a $350 million first aid kit, two-thirds of which were delivered on March 4, according to a Pentagon official.
This first aid kit was intended to: “Urgently provide Ukraine with necessary ammunition, Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles”the head of US diplomacy for political-military affairs, Jessica Lewis, explained to Congress.
The new White House announcement comes after statements by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who said he had “Warned the United States” What’s “convoys” were becoming “legitimate goals”citing portable air defense systems and anti-tank missile systems.