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War in Ukraine: Moscow wants to control the Donbass and the south, “war crimes” for the UN

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Moscow has announced that it is aiming for total control of southern Ukraine and the Donbass region nearly two months after the invasion of the country by the Russian army, accused on Friday by the UN of actions “which may fall under crimes of war”. Ukraine, which has obtained more substantial arms aid from the West in recent days, continues to assure that it can push Russian forces out of the country.

THE ESSENTIAL

On the 58th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow announced that it is aiming for full control of southern Ukraine and the Donbass region nearly two months after the country was invaded by the Russian army, accused on Friday by the United Nations of actions “possibly amounting to war crimes”. “One of the objectives of the Russian army is to establish full control over Donbass and southern Ukraine,” a senior Russian military official said on Friday, referring to a “second phase of the special operation aiming, among other things, to “ensure a land corridor to Crimea”.

Ukraine, which has obtained more substantial arms aid from the West in recent days, continues to assure that it can push Russian forces out of the country. “They can only delay the inevitable – the moment when the invaders will have to leave our territory, in particular Mariupol,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday evening.

Mariupol, strategic port, which Moscow assured Thursday to have “liberated”, still resists the Russian forces, according to kyiv, which affirms Friday that the Ukrainian fighters “hold on” in the immense Azovstal metallurgical complex where civilians are also entrenched. Civilians who will not be able to hope to take an evacuation corridor on Friday to find peace and security, the Ukrainian government deeming the situation too “dangerous” on the country’s roads.

“I am addressing all those who are waiting to be evacuated: be patient, please hold on!” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told them on Telegram.

Ukrainian forces accuse Russia of targeting public roads

Ukrainian authorities regularly accuse Russian forces of targeting routes used by people fleeing the fighting. “In the temporarily occupied territories, enemy units continue to block the movement of the local population, rob and bring a humanitarian crisis closer. They reduce critical infrastructure to rubble and block the delivery of humanitarian cargoes from Ukraine . There are cases of civilians and volunteers shot,” said the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense in its morning note on Friday.

Putin accuses kyiv of preventing the surrender of Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol

Russian President Vladimir Putin assured Friday that kyiv refused the surrender of the last Ukrainian soldiers entrenched in the industrial zone of Azovstal, in the besieged port of Mariupol. “The life of all Ukrainian soldiers, nationalist fighters and foreign mercenaries is guaranteed if they lay down their arms (…) But the kyiv regime does not allow this possibility,” Vladimir Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement. summarizing a telephone exchange with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

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UN speaks of ‘war crimes’

The UN on Friday listed a series of actions by the Russian military that it said could amount to war crimes. “Russian armed forces indiscriminately shelled and shelled populated areas, killing civilians and destroying hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, all actions that may amount to war crimes,” said Ravina Shamdasani, during a regular UN briefing in Geneva.

Recent satellite images published by the American company Maxar Technologies show, according to the company, “the existence of a site of mass graves in the northwest of Mangouch”, a village 20 kilometers west of Mariupol. In this village alone, “the occupants would have buried between 3 and 9,000 residents”, said the town hall of Mariupol on Telegram.

“They are digging 30-meter holes and bringing the bodies of our residents of Mariupol in trucks,” Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boitchenko said Thursday during a press briefing broadcast on YouTube. He estimated that Russian bombardments had claimed at least 20,000 lives in Mariupol since the siege began.

New aid from the United States

Volodymyr Zelensky had estimated earlier, in front of the leaders of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank at 7 billion dollars per month the aid necessary to compensate for the economic losses caused by the war. A call partially heard. On Thursday, US President Joe Biden announced $800 million in new military aid for Ukraine. The Pentagon said that this new tranche of aid included 72 Howitzer howitzers and their vehicles, 144,000 shells and 121 Phoenix Ghost killer drones.

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On Thursday evening, Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin’s “great ambitions” a “failure”. “Zelensky and his democratically elected government are still in power, and the Ukrainian armed forces accompanied by the valiant Ukrainian civilians have foiled the Russian conquest of their country,” he wrote.

The fear of a fake referendum

This assertion by the US president was not enough to allay the concerns of his Ukrainian counterpart, who accused Russia of seeking to organize a fake independence referendum in the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhya which it occupies in the south of the country. .

Zelensky asks Ukrainians not to provide any personal data to Russians

In a video message, Volodymyr Zelensky asked residents of the occupied areas not to provide any personal data, such as their passport numbers, that would be required of them by Russian forces.

“It’s not just to conduct a census. (…) It’s not to give you humanitarian aid of any kind. It’s actually to tamper with a so-called referendum on your land , if the order to organize this comedy comes from Moscow”, warned the Ukrainian president. Ukraine had already accused, at the beginning of March, Russia of seeking to stage a “referendum” in Kherson like the one which, in 2014, had sealed the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and which is considered illegal by kyiv and by Westerners.

Makeshift graves

Around the capital, makeshift graves discovered near a hospital in the devastated town of Borodianka have offered evidence to experts investigating war crimes charges against Russian troops. Authorities said nine civilian corpses, many of them shot, were exhumed from these graves.

Investigators collected more than 1,000 bodies of civilians from streets, courtyards or improvised graves around the Ukrainian capital, some of whom had their hands and feet tied or gunshot wounds to the back of their necks, officials said Thursday. responsible.

This investigation is part of the documentation of what Oleksandr Pavliuk, head of the Kyiv regional military administration, described as “atrocities” committed following the invasion of Russian troops, who by subsequently were forced to withdraw from the area.

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