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War in Ukraine: what to remember from the 86th day of the Russian invasion

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On the 86th day of war in Ukraine, Russian forces are still increasing pressure in Donbass, in the east of the country, which they have turned into “hell”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday. Europe 1 takes stock of the evolution of the situation.

THE ESSENTIAL

Ever-increasing pressure in the Donbass region, the nerve of the conflict in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces have transformed this area into “hell”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday, who also considered that the massive aid announced by Washington in kyiv constitutes an investment for the security of the West. The US Congress on Thursday released a gigantic envelope of 40 billion dollars to support Ukraine’s war effort against Russia. And the G7 finance ministers have begun to count the billions that each country could pour into Kyiv.

For the first time since the start of the conflict, the American and Russian Chiefs of Staff, Generals Mark Milley and Valéri Guerassimov, spoke on the telephone on Thursday, the American Ministry of Defense also reported.

American aid to finance heavy equipment

“For our partners, it’s not just spending or a donation,” reacted the Ukrainian president in his video address on the night of Thursday to Friday. “It is their contribution to their own security because the protection of Ukraine means their own protection against new wars and crises that Russia may cause,” he said.

The new American aid should in particular allow Ukraine to equip itself with armor and strengthen its anti-aircraft defense, at a time when Russia is concentrating its efforts in the east and south of the country after having failed to take kyiv and Kharkiv, in the north. Moscow seeks in particular to completely conquer the Donbass, a Russian-speaking region partially controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists.

“Ukrainian armed forces continue to make progress in liberating the Kharkiv region. But the occupiers are trying to further increase the pressure in the Donbass. This is hell, and this is not an exaggeration,” he said. said the Ukrainian president.

Severodonetsk crushed under fire

Russian shelling left 12 dead and 40 injured on Thursday in Severodonetsk, in the Lugansk region, according to local governor Serguiï Gaïdaï. He said most of the shots hit apartment buildings, and the death toll could rise. An AFP team on the spot noted that this industrial city had been transformed for several days into a battlefield and crushed under artillery fire.

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“I don’t know how long we can last,” said Nella Kachkina, 65, a former municipal employee, now retired. Severodonetsk and Lyssytchansk constitute the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the Lugansk region. The Russians surround these two localities, separated by a river, and bombard them relentlessly. Separately, Russian soldiers on Thursday killed five civilians in the Donetsk region, also in the Donbass, according to Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.

status quo in the north

After the Russian withdrawal from the surroundings of Kharkiv (North-East) which allowed Ukraine to regain ground around the second city of the country, “the Ukrainian armed forces continue to make progress in the liberation of the region”, according to President Zelensky. But the ISW reports information on “attempts by Russian forces to regain control of localities lost during the Ukrainian counter-offensive north of Kharkiv”.

Massive Western aid to Ukraine

The G7 countries promised Friday to mobilize 19.8 billion dollars (18.7 billion euros) to support Ukrainian finances, during a meeting of finance ministers in Germany. The day before, the American Congress released a gigantic envelope of 40 billion dollars for Ukraine.

“It is their contribution to their own security, because the protection of Ukraine means their own protection against new wars and crises that Russia can provoke”, reacted Volodymyr Zelensky.

Russian push in the East

In the Donbass coalfield, partially controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that forces from Moscow and separatists had taken control of almost all of Lugansk, one of the two regions of Donbass. The Russian army “intensified its offensives and attempted assaults” in the Donbass, all of which were generally repelled, and bombarded “the entire front line”, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. Russian forces have turned the Donbass into “hell”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during his speech Thursday night.

The twin towns of Severodonetsk and Lyssytchansk, bombed relentlessly, constitute the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the Lugansk region. “Russian forces are stepping up operations to advance north and west of Popasna for an offensive toward Severodonetsk,” the US Institute for War Studies (ISW) said.

End of resistance in Mariupol

The last Ukrainian fighters entrenched in the bowels of the Azovstal steelworks, in Mariupol, the last pocket of resistance in this strategic port on the Sea of ​​Azov now controlled by Russian troops, announced on Friday that they had received the order to cease fighting. . In recent days, 1,908 of them have “laid down their arms”, declared the Russian Minister of Defense, but kyiv rejects the term surrender, Volodymyr Zelensky evoking “the rescue of our heroes”. “The strong Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol since the start of the war means that the Russian forces in the area must be re-equipped and resupplied before they can be redeployed effectively”, which can take time, underlines the British Ministry of Defense.

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“But Russian commanders are under pressure to visibly achieve operational goals, which means Russia is likely to redistribute its forces quickly without adequate preparation, which risks further attrition,” he adds. Further west, near Odessa, the major Ukrainian port on the Black Sea, “Russian forces are strengthening their naval presence around Serpents’ Island to consolidate their presence” in this strategic position, according to the ISW.

Ukraine wants to organize a prisoner exchange

Mainly members of a marine rifle unit and the Azov regiment founded by Ukrainian nationalists, the evacuated combatants had been entrenched for several weeks in the maze of underground galleries dug in Soviet times under the gigantic steelworks, massively bombarded by Russians.

In a video released on Thursday, Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov regiment, confirmed that he was still in the factory with the rest of the command, refusing to reveal details of the “operation” in progress. Their fate remains unresolved: Ukraine wants to organize an exchange of prisoners of war, but Russia has made it known that it considers at least some of them not as soldiers, but as “neo-Nazi” fighters.

A threat to global food

The war threatens to aggravate the global food crisis, as it seriously disrupts agricultural activity and grain exports from Ukraine, a country that was until now the world’s fourth largest exporter of corn and is on the way to becoming the third largest exporter of wheat. .

“Stop blocking the ports of the Black Sea! Allow the free movement of ships, trains and trucks carrying food out of Ukraine”, launched Thursday evening the head of the American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, during a meeting of the UN Security Council. To which the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, retorted by denouncing a Western desire “to blame Russia for all the problems of the world”.

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