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War in Ukraine: what to remember from the 30th day of the Russian invasion

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A month after the start of the Russian invasion, the country’s army announced that it would now concentrate its offensive on eastern Ukraine, while the belligerents were very pessimistic about the progress of their talks in to end the conflict. On the ground, the city of Mariupol feared that around 300 people died in the bombed theater on March 16. Europe 1 takes stock of the evolution of the situation.

THE ESSENTIAL

The Russian army announced on Friday that it would now focus its offensive on eastern Ukraine, while the belligerents were very pessimistic about the progress of their talks to end the conflict. At the same time, US President Joe Biden visited US servicemen based in Poland, the second leg after Brussels of a trip to Europe intended to cement the union of Westerners against Russia, both on the diplomatic front than economic.

The Russian army is concentrating on the East

Russia said on Friday that it now wanted to focus its efforts on the “liberation” of eastern Ukraine and acknowledged the death of 1,351 of its soldiers since the start of its military offensive, the first figures for more than three weeks. The combat capabilities of the Ukrainian forces have been significantly reduced, which allows (…) to concentrate the bulk of the efforts on the main objective: the liberation of Donbass”, said the deputy head of the Russian General Staff.

Ukrainian air force command shelled

The command center of the Ukrainian air forces in Vinnytsia (center) was hit Friday by a salvo of Russian cruise missiles, which caused “significant damage”, according to the Ukrainian army. In Kharkiv (east), a Russian bombardment on a medical center left four dead and three injured, according to the regional police. In addition, the town hall of Mariupol (south) declared to fear the death of approximately 300 people in the bombardment of the theater of the city by the Russian aviation on March 16.

Russian-Ukrainian talks are “very difficult”, laments kyiv

Talks with Moscow are “very difficult”, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba said on Friday, more than a month after the start of the Russian invasion.

“The negotiation process is very difficult,” the head of Ukrainian diplomacy said in a statement, rejecting any “consensus” with Moscow at this stage. Earlier in the day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured that Russia and Ukraine agreed on four out of six negotiating points.

The Kremlin minimizes the scope of a possible exclusion from the G20

Russia on Friday minimized the scope of a possible exclusion from the G20, wanted by the United States in reaction to Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, believing that such a blow would not be “deadly”.

“As for the G20 format, it is important. But under the current circumstances, when most members are in a state of economic war with us, nothing fatal would happen” in the event of Moscow’s exclusion , Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Around 300 feared dead in Mariupol theater strike

About 300 dead are feared in the theater of Mariupol bombarded by the Russian air force on March 16 while hundreds of people were sheltered there, announced this Friday the town hall of the city, citing witnesses.

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“Witnesses have information that about 300 people died in the Mariupol Drama Theater as a result of a bombing by a Russian plane. Until the end, we do not want to believe this horror. Until the end, we wants to believe that everyone is safe. But the testimonies of those who were inside the building at the time of this terrorist act say the opposite”, writes the town hall of Mariupol on its Telegram account.

Russia claims to have destroyed Ukrainian army’s largest fuel reserve

Russia claimed on Friday that it had destroyed the Ukrainian army’s largest fuel reserve near kyiv the day before with cruise missiles. “The largest remaining fuel reserve of the Ukrainian army, which was used to supply units in the central part of the country, has been destroyed,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. communicated.

Joe Biden visits Poland

Joe Biden is expected in the Polish city of Rzeszow, about 80 kilometers from the border with Ukraine, the second leg of his trip to Europe. Arriving from Brussels, he will be received by Polish President Andrzej Duda at the airport of this city located two and a half hours by road from Lviv, the main city in western Ukraine, where refugees are flocking.

He will then receive a briefing on “the humanitarian response in order to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Ukraine and to respond to the increasing flow of refugees fleeing the war that (Vladimir) Putin has chosen”, specified the White House.

Joe Biden will also meet American soldiers positioned in this region, part of the more than 100,000 American soldiers currently present in Europe. He will then travel to Warsaw, where he will deliver a speech “on the united efforts of the free world to support the Ukrainian people” and “hold Russia accountable for its brutal war”, according to the White House.

NATO’s “response”

Joe Biden promised Brussels on Thursday for the first time a “response” from NATO in the conflict in Ukraine if Russia resorted to chemical weapons there. In this situation, Westerners considered the risk of a chemical attack very credible. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also expressed Thursday evening its “concern” after being informed by the Ukrainian authorities of the bombing of the city where the staff of the Chernobyl site live.

On the economic front, the G7 and European Union countries will sanction any transaction involving Russia’s gold reserves, to prevent Moscow from circumventing the financial isolation measures taken by the West. French President Emmanuel Macron for his part refused to specify whether NATO had defined “red lines” likely to trigger an intervention.

Chemical and nuclear threats: NATO equips Ukraine

NATO will also provide Ukraine with protective equipment against chemical, biological and nuclear threats, the Alliance’s secretary general announced. Four new battlegroups will be deployed in Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia to reinforce NATO’s defenses on its eastern flank.

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More than 100,000 American soldiers are currently present in Europe and more than 40,000 soldiers are under direct NATO command in the eastern part of the Alliance. The Ukrainian president accuses Russia of using “phosphorus bombs”. And for him, “the risk of large-scale use of chemical weapons by Russia in Ukraine is very real”.

Risks of food shortages

Westerners also came together on Thursday to respond to the risk of global food shortages, with Ukraine and Russia being two major wheat exporters. “Food shortages will materialize,” warned the American president after G7 and NATO summits, assuring that the United States like Canada would increase their exports accordingly.

The United States has announced that it will devote 11 billion dollars (about 10 billion euros) over the next five years to respond to threats to food security in the world, while France has proposed an emergency plan at EU and G7 level.

The battle escalates

In Ukraine, the situation in the city of Mariupol, on the Sea of ​​Azov, heavily bombarded, is deteriorating further, the Ukrainians denouncing the “mass” deportation of inhabitants to Russia. The mayor of Mariupol, Vadim Boychenko, advanced Thursday evening on Telegram a last assessment of 15,000 inhabitants taken “by force” on board buses, as well as “the confiscation of Ukrainian passports” of inhabitants stuck there.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says his paramilitary militia, which fights alongside the Russian army, has taken over the town hall of this strategic port city. Information impossible to confirm from an independent source, and the Ukrainian army ensures that Mariupol has not yet fallen.

The offensive continues elsewhere in the country, after deadly strikes on Thursday in Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, and in Longansk, and accusations of phosphorus bombs in Rubizhne. The battle intensifies on the capital’s front where Ukrainian rocket launchers respond to Russian artillery.

“The enemy will probably try to resume offensive operations in the direction of the towns of Brovary and Boryspil in order to block kyiv from the east”, adds the staff of the Ukrainian armed forces in its latest bulletin.

The Ukrainian army also claims that in the Sea of ​​Azov, the Russian ship “Saratov”, intended for a “landing” operation, “was destroyed during the attack on the occupied port of Berdiansk”. Two other Russian landing ships, the “Caesar Kunikov” and the “Novocherkassk”, were also “damaged”, according to kyiv.

In his latest video posted on Facebook, overnight from Thursday to Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, entrenched in kyiv, pays tribute to “the heroic opposition of the Ukrainian people to the Russian military invasion”. In a month of war, thousands of Ukrainians have been killed, including 121 children, 6.5 million have had to leave their homes, and more than 4,300 of them have been destroyed, according to a latest assessment by President Zelensky.

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