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Ukraine: fighting at “maximum intensity” in the east, Russia rejects a peace plan

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On the 92nd day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the country on Thursday described a Russian military offensive of “maximum intensity” and an extremely difficult situation in the east of its territory, demanding more heavy weapons and denouncing by advances any “pacifist” concession to Russia, which disdainfully rejected an Italian peace plan. Europe 1 takes stock of the evolution of the situation.

THE ESSENTIAL

“It’s hard, but we are holding on. We are fighting for every inch of the front line, for every village. Western weapons help us push the enemy out of our land,” the commander wrote on Telegram. head of the Ukrainian armed forces Valeriï Zalouzhny. On the 92nd day of the Russian invasion, Ukraine on Thursday described a Russian military offensive of “maximum intensity” and an extremely difficult situation in the east of its territory. kyiv is asking for more heavy weapons and denouncing in advance any “pacifist” concession to Russia, which disdainfully rejected an Italian peace plan.

Russian army focuses on Donbass

“We are in great need of weapons that will allow us to strike the enemy at a great distance”, added the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, stressing that “any delay (in these deliveries of heavy weapons) is paid for with life of people who protect the world from Ruscism”, the contraction of “Russia” and “fascism” used in Ukraine to designate the regime established in Moscow by Vladimir Putin.

Because on the ground, the Russian army, which after having failed to take kyiv and Kharkiv has concentrated its efforts on the complete conquest of Donbass, the industrial basin of the east already partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, continues to progress. slowly.

Why Russia is focusing on the city of Severodonetsk

Supported by a deluge of bombs, it directly threatens Severodonetsk, a city of 100,000 inhabitants before the war, which could suffer the same fate as Mariupol, the large port city in the south-east largely destroyed after weeks of siege which left 20,000 dead according to kyiv. “The mission is extremely difficult in the Lugansk region after three months of constant attacks and shelling. And now all the forces of the Russians are concentrated here and we must contain this horde,” said the governor of this region of Donbass, Serguiï Gaïdaï, on Telegram. “It is clear that little by little our guys are retreating to better fortified positions,” he added.

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In certain areas of the east, “the enemy is clearly superior, in equipment, in number of soldiers”, recognized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, when his Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba pleaded in Davos for sanctions. further reinforced against Moscow. “The fighting has reached its maximum intensity and a long and extremely difficult stage awaits us,” Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar said in kyiv on Thursday during a press briefing.

She spoke out against those who “return once again, from the shameful drawer of Munich, the treacherous idea of ​​appeasing the aggressor”. “We reject this weak pacifism. Ukraine will fight for the full liberation of its territories within their internationally recognized borders. And Putin can save face by withdrawing from our territories,” she added, in an apparent hint. calls, particularly from Paris, not to “humiliate” Russia.

Rejection of the Italian peace plan

Similarly, Russia, which analysts say wants to consolidate its territorial gains in eastern and southern Ukraine before any negotiated solution, dismissively rejected an Italian peace plan. This one which provided, under UN guarantee, for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops, the entry of Ukraine into the EU but not into NATO, and a status of autonomy for Donbass and Crimea which would remain under Ukrainian sovereignty.

“There is talk that Crimea (Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014) and Donbass (separatist region whose independence was recognized by Moscow on the eve of the war in February) belong to Ukraine with a large autonomy,” Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russian state media RT. “Serious politicians who want results cannot come up with things like this,” he added, apparently addressing his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio.

Four killed in shelling in Kharkiv

Russia is therefore continuing its offensive launched on February 24, bombing again on Thursday Kharkiv, the country’s second city which had begun a return to normal life in mid-May and where metro traffic had resumed. “According to preliminary information, seven people were injured and unfortunately four died,” regional governor Oleg Sinegoubov said on Telegram. According to an AFP journalist, at least one residential area of ​​the Pavlové Polé district, in the center-north of the city, was affected.

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According to the Ukrainian presidency, in the past 24 hours at least three people have been killed in Lysychansk in the Luhansk region, and four civilians have died in the Donetsk region. The presidency also indicated that in the Kharkiv area, two people had died in a bombardment in Balakliya, and that two deaths had also been recorded in the south of the country, in the Mykolaiv region. “Countries that are dragging their feet on the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine must understand that every day they spend deciding, weighing different arguments, people are killed”, insisted on Wednesday in Davos the Ukrainian Minister of Affairs. foreign.

A secure passage to Odessa for grain exports, Russia accuses the West

Amid concerns over Ukraine’s current inability to export its grain due to Russian blockades of its ports, he reported kyiv’s discussions with the United Nations on the possibility of safe passage from from the port of Odessa. The Kremlin swept aside the Western accusations on Thursday. “We categorically reject these accusations and conversely accuse Western countries of taking a series of illegal actions that led to this blockade,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Moscow is busy consolidating its grip

On the southern front, Moscow is busy consolidating its hold on the territories conquered for three months. Russia has thus announced that it will allow residents of the Zaporijjia and Kherson regions to apply for a Russian passport via “a simplified procedure”. Ukraine immediately denounced a “forced” granting of Russian nationality demonstrating Moscow’s desire to carry out a pure and simple annexation of these territories.

Thursday, in Mariupol, a town hall official announced that the children would, instead of the summer holidays, follow a program of “de-Ukrainization” and preparation for the Russian program, including language lessons, of literature and history.

On the diplomatic front, European Council President Charles Michel said he remained “confident” of an agreement on an EU embargo on Russian oil by the start of the European Council on Monday, despite the Hungarian deadlock. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was “convinced” Thursday in Davos that Russia would not win the war and that President Vladimir Putin would not be allowed to “dictate” peace.

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