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War in Ukraine: rapid withdrawal of Russians to the north, catastrophic humanitarian situation in Mariupol

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On the 37th day of the invasion of Ukraine decided by Moscow which killed thousands of civilians and soldiers, the Russian forces loosen their grip on kyiv and Cherniguiv and regroup to concentrate on the east of the country. More than 3,000 people fled the Mariupol region. Europe 1 takes stock of the evolution of the situation.

THE ESSENTIAL

More than 3,000 people fled the Mariupol region in Ukraine, by bus and private cars, the Ukrainian authorities announced, while the Red Cross, after an initial failure, was to prepare a new attempt to evacuate the port city on Saturday. besieged and devastated. On the 37th day of the invasion of Ukraine decided by Moscow, which killed thousands of civilians and soldiers, the Russian forces are loosening their grip on kyiv and Cherniguiv and are regrouping to concentrate on the east of the country, where they will face a seasoned Ukrainian army, which suggests a “protracted” conflict, which could last for months, the Pentagon has warned.

“Rapid withdrawal” of the Russians to the north

Russian forces are operating a “rapid withdrawal” from the Kyiv and Cherniguiv regions in northern Ukraine, and aim to “gain a foothold in the east and south”, a Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Saturday. “After a rapid Russian withdrawal from the Kyiv and Chernigiv regions (…), it is quite clear that Russia has chosen another priority tactic: to retreat to the east and south, to keep control of vast occupied territories and gain a powerful foothold there,” the official said.

In the East, “Russian forces have failed to take any territory for 24 hours”, according to the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW). The Ukrainians claimed to have liberated eleven localities in the Kherson region (south). Two people were killed and two others injured in Russian shelling on Thursday, according to the regional governor. kyiv also announced that it had exchanged 86 of its soldiers for Russians, without specifying the number of the latter.

Bombings in several cities tonight

Since the night of Friday to Saturday, several regions, particularly in the center and the east, have been bombarded. The strikes hit residential neighborhoods in Kharkiv (east), according to the presidency citing the regional authorities, but also infrastructure in Dnipro (center) according to the regional governor, or even localities in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk (east), as well as Kherson (south).

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Bombings also hit infrastructure in Kremenchuk (center, Poltava region), headquarters of the largest Ukrainian oil refinery, said the Ukrainian presidency, while the Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Saturday morning that it had destroyed with “weapons high precision” gasoline and fuel depots. In Kharkiv, shelling continued intermittently on Saturday morning.

3,000 people evacuated from Mariupol

More than 3,000 people fled the Mariupol region on Friday in buses and private cars, Ukrainian authorities said. “The humanitarian corridors have worked in three regions: Donetsk, Lugansk and Zaporozhye. We have managed to save 6,266 people, including 3,071 from Mariupol” (southeast), Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said overnight from Friday to Saturday.

A column of buses carrying displaced people, including residents of the port city of Mariupol, besieged by Russian forces, arrived Friday evening in Zaporozhye, a city controlled by the kyiv army, AFP noted. The humanitarian situation is catastrophic in Mariupol, where some 120,000 people are still stranded according to the latest estimates. On Saturday, seven humanitarian corridors were planned in the east and southeast, according to Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

Veteran Ukrainian photographer found dead

A veteran Ukrainian photographer, Maks Levine, who had not been heard from for three weeks, was found dead after the withdrawal of Russian troops from territory near kyiv, the Ukrainian presidency announced on Saturday. “He disappeared in the zone of hostilities on March 13 in the kyiv region. On April 1, his body was found near the village of Gouta Mejyguirska”, a few tens of kilometers north of the capital, indicated on Telegram the head of the presidential administration Andriï Yermak.

53 cultural sites damaged

At least 53 cultural sites have been damaged in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

Ukraine accused of having struck in Russia

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region on Friday accused Ukraine of carrying out a dawn helicopter attack on what he described as an “oil depot” in the town about 40 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. The Kremlin considered that this incident would not “create the appropriate conditions for the continuation of negotiations”. The Ukrainian side did not formally deny it, but suggested “sabotage”. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later told US channel Fox News: “I’m sorry, I’m not discussing my orders as Commander-in-Chief.”

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Request for a ceasefire from Moscow

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Britain’s Martin Griffiths, will be in Moscow on Sunday to try to secure a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Ukraine, the UN chief announced on Friday. Antonio Guterres. “He will be in Moscow on Sunday and after he will go to kyiv,” the UN secretary general told some journalists, recalling that he had recently given him the mission of “seeking a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine. “.

Resumption of talks

Russian-Ukrainian talks aimed at ending the conflict resumed on Friday via videoconference, according to Kremlin negotiator Vladimir Medinsky. “Our positions on Crimea and Donbass have not changed,” he said, referring to two Ukrainian regions, one which Russia annexed in 2014 and the other which is partially under the control of pro-Russian separatists.

Ukraine is still waiting for a “real response to the proposals that were made in Istanbul” earlier this week, noted for his part the head of diplomacy Dmytro Kouleba. kyiv had notably proposed the neutrality of Ukraine and to renounce joining NATO, provided that its security was guaranteed by other countries against Russia.

The President of MEPs in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his “gratification” to Roberta Metsola, the Maltese President of the European Parliament, for having come “heroically” and “personally” to Kyiv, welcoming him to the Ukrainian capital where he has been holed up since the end of February. Roberta Metsola, elected President of the European Parliament on January 18, was the first leader of a European institution to visit the Ukrainian capital since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.

More than 4.1 million refugees

Some 4,102,876 Ukrainian refugees have fled their country since the invasion of Ukraine, according to the High Commissioner for Refugees.

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