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Ukraine: Putin honors a brigade accused of abuses in Boutcha, his army advances in the east

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On the 54th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at least six people were killed Monday in powerful Russian missile strikes on Lviv in western Ukraine usually relatively spared from the fighting, while kyiv has promised to defend “to the end” the strategic port of Mariupol in the south-east where the Russian army surrounds the Ukrainian soldiers. In addition, Vladimir Putin on Monday honored a brigade that Ukraine has accused of having participated in Boutcha’s abuses.

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Vladimir Putin on Monday honored a brigade that Ukraine has accused of participating in Boutcha’s abuses, as his army bombarded targets in several regions and advanced in the east, where it seized a town in the Donbass. Russian strikes in particular killed at least seven people in Lviv, the great western city, while the European Union condemned “the continuation of the indiscriminate and illegal bombardments of civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Russian armed forces” . In addition, Russian public television showed two Britons captured in Ukraine asking to be exchanged for a wealthy Ukrainian businessman close to the Kremlin, Viktor Medvedchuk.

Putin honors a brigade accused of abuses in Boutcha

The Russian president on Monday awarded an honorary title, in particular for his “heroism”, his “tenacity” and his “great professionalism”, to the 64th motorized rifle brigade. However, Ukraine affirmed that the Russian forces and in particular this unit had committed a massacre of civilians in Boutcha, on the outskirts of kyiv. The discovery in the streets of this locality of corpses of civilians, shortly after the withdrawal of Russian soldiers, had sparked a wave of international indignation in early April. Ukrainian investigators are still working there to gather elements of “war crimes”.

Russia had for its part denied any “war crime”, assuring on the contrary that the Ukrainian authorities and the Western media had staged the massacre or that the Ukrainian forces had perpetrated it to accuse Moscow of it.

Two Britons taken prisoner in fighting in Ukraine

Still in Russia, public television (VGTRK) broadcast a video on Monday showing two Britons, Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, taken prisoner in the fighting in Ukraine. With drawn features, they turn to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whom they expect to negotiate their release against that of Viktor Medvedchuk, recently arrested in Ukraine. kyiv for its part broadcast a video of this businessman, in which he says he wants to be exchanged “for the defenders of Mariupol and its inhabitants”.

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In a statement from the UK Foreign Office, Shaun Pinner’s family say they are working with London, alongside those close to Aiden Aslin, to ensure that “their rights as prisoners of war are respected under the Convention of Geneva”. According to his family, Shaun Pinner is “neither a volunteer nor a mercenary, but officially serves in the Ukrainian army”. After having been in the British army, he had settled in Ukraine where he had married a Ukrainian woman. This “video war” comes at a time when, on the ground, Russian forces have carried out strikes in several regions of Ukraine.

At least seven dead in Lviv

In the northeast, the major city of Kharkiv was bombed again on Monday. Result: at least three dead. According to the regional prosecutor’s office, a shell that fell in the late morning on a children’s playground in a residential area killed a man and a woman and damaged buildings. Already on Sunday, at least five people had died and 20 others had been injured in a series of Russian strikes on Kharkiv.

In the west, in Lviv, “five powerful missile strikes” hit “civilian infrastructure” on Monday, announced Mikhaïlo Podoliak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The regional governor, Maksym Kozitsky, for his part mentioned four cruise missile launches from the Caspian Sea: three on military installations and one on a garage, which caused fires.

Seven people were killed and “eleven injured, including a child, “all targets are “severely damaged”. About four kilometers from the city center, AFP journalists saw the garage on fire, with carcasses of cars in a crater near a railway line. Located far from the front, near the Polish border, Lviv has become a city of refuge for displaced people and had hitherto been little targeted by Russian strikes, unlike eastern Ukraine where most of the fighting.

“Destroy the Donbass”

In a video message on Sunday evening, Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that Russian soldiers were preparing for “an offensive in the east of our country in the near future. They literally want to finish off and destroy Donbass.” “Just as the Russian military is destroying Mariupol, they want to destroy other cities and other communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, he continued, before launching: “we are doing everything to ensure the defense “.

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Russia is determined to seize Mariupol, whose last defenders on Sunday ignored a Russian military ultimatum to lay down their arms. “No, the city has not fallen. Our soldiers are still there. They will fight to the end,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Chmygal said before him. The capture of this port city would be an important victory for the Russians because it would allow them to consolidate their coastal territorial gains along the Sea of ​​Azov by linking the Donbass region, partly controlled by their supporters, to the Crimea that Moscow annexed in 2014.

According to the executive director of the World Food Program David Beasley, more than 100,000 civilians are on the verge of starvation in Mariupol, also lacking water and heating.

“This week is going to be difficult”

Russian forces also continued their progress in other territories in eastern Ukraine, such as Kreminna where they entered on Monday, after “a major attack during the night”, announced the governor of the Lugansk region. , Serguiï Gaïdaï. “The Russian army has already entered there, with a huge amount of war material… Our defenders have retreated to new positions,” he added.

Kreminna, which has about 18,000 inhabitants, is about fifty kilometers northeast of Kramatorsk, the Ukrainian capital of Donbass. During the night of Sunday to Monday, a strike hit a neighborhood northeast of Kramatorsk, without doing any damage. An AFP reporter saw a crater in a small wasteland near a closed hotel and an abandoned factory. Shortly before, Governor Serguiï Gaïdaï had urged civilians to evacuate the Lugansk region. “This week is going to be difficult,” he warned. Now “this may be the last time we have a chance to save you” by leaving combat zones, he said.

But Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said no humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians would be set up on Monday, for the second day in a row, because “the Russian occupiers keep blocking them and shelling them “.

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