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

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On the seventeenth day of the Russian invasion, Russian forces are positioned around Kiev and “blockade” Mariupol, where thousands of people are under devastating siege, in southern Ukraine, a country that has been bombarded for more than two weeks . The United States takes new sanctions and paves the way for the imposition of severe customs tariffs against Russia. Europe 1 takes stock of the evolution of the situation.

THE ESSENTIAL

Russian forces tightened the noose on Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, on Saturday and continued the relentless bombing of other Ukrainian cities, notably affecting several hospitals in Mykolaiv and the strategic port city of Mariupol, already devastated by nearly two weeks of siege. During the night, Mykolaiv, a port city near Odessa, was bombed. The United States and its allies have taken the escalation of sanctions against Moscow one step further, paving the way for punitive tariffs and drying up trade with the country.

Russians around Kiev

Russian troops were trying to encircle Kiev on Saturday: present in the suburbs of the capital, they are seeking to eliminate the defenses to the west and north of the city to “block” it, according to the Ukrainian general staff. In Vassylkiv, south of Kiev, Russian rockets “completely destroyed” the local airport and an oil terminal also hit caught fire, according to the Ukrainians.

In the south, the port city of Mykolaiv near Odessa was bombed overnight: shots hit a cancer center emptied of its occupants and an eye hospital housing an unspecified number of patients.

The Ukrainian capital as well as Mariupol, on the Sea of ​​Azov, Kryvy Rig, Kremenchug, Nikopol and Zaporizhie are the main areas where Russian efforts are still concentrated, according to the Ukrainian army. According to her, Moscow is seeking to eliminate Ukrainian defenses in several localities to the west and north of the capital, Kiev, to “block” the city.

Mariupol risks ‘unimaginable tragedy’

After twelve days of siege, Mariupol, a strategic port, has no water, gas, electricity or communications. People have been fighting for food lately: an “almost hopeless” situation, according to Doctors Without Borders. Some 1,582 civilians were killed there and buried in mass graves, says the head of Ukrainian diplomacy. A mosque housing 80 civilians was bombed, according to the Ukrainians who did not say when.

About 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers killed

“About 1,300” Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since February 24, Volodymyr Zelensky said in a first official count provided by the Ukrainian authorities since the start of the invasion. The Russian army has lost “about 12,000 men”, says the Ukrainian president. Russia, for its part, announced on March 2 its one and only death toll of 498 soldiers. At least 579 civilians were killed, according to the UN tally on Saturday, which stresses that its tolls are probably much lower than the reality.

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A southern mayor kidnapped by Russian soldiers

The mayor of Melitopol was kidnapped on Friday by Russian soldiers occupying the southern Ukrainian town, Ukrainian officials said. “This is obviously a sign of weakness of the invaders… They have moved to a new stage of terror in which they are trying to physically eliminate the representatives of the legitimate local Ukrainian authorities”, underlined the President Zelensky.

Putin accuses Ukrainian forces of ‘gross violations’ of humanitarian law

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday accused Ukrainian forces of “gross violations” of humanitarian law, calling on his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to pressure Kiev to end them.

Vladimir Putin mentioned, during a telephone call with his two counterparts, “extrajudicial assassinations of opponents”, “civilian hostage-taking” and their “use as human shields”, as well as the “deployment of heavy weapons in residential areas, near hospitals, schools and kindergartens,” according to a Kremlin statement.

Zelensky appeals to the mothers of Russian soldiers

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called on the mothers of Russian soldiers to prevent their sons from being sent to “war” in Ukraine. “I want to say this once again to Russian mothers. Especially, mothers of conscripts. Do not send your children to war in a foreign country,” Zelensky said, in a new video address released on Telegram.

“Check where your son is. And if you have the slightest suspicion that your son could be sent to war against Ukraine, act immediately” to prevent him from being killed or captured, he said.

Russia excluded from the normal reciprocity regime

The United States and its allies have taken the escalation of sanctions against Moscow one step further, paving the way for punitive tariffs and drying up trade with the country.

The EU and the G7 have joined Washington in revoking Moscow’s so-called “most favored nation” status, which facilitates free trade in goods and services. And US President Joe Biden announced the ban on imports of “flagship sectors of the Russian economy, including seafood, vodka and diamonds”.

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Avoid a “direct confrontation” NATO-Russia

United States President Joe Biden pledged on Friday to “avoid” a “direct confrontation between NATO and Russia” because it would cause “World War III”. “We are not going to wage a war against Russia in Ukraine,” hammered the American leader from the White House.

For its part, the Kremlin allows Syrian nationals to volunteer to fight in Ukraine. The volunteers are “above all nationals of the Middle East, Syrians”, specified the Kremlin. “We have to go to meet them and help them reach the combat zone,” Vladimir Putin said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has denounced Russia’s upcoming use of “Syrian assassins” to “destroy” Ukraine.

Zelensky thanks Warsaw for its support

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised Poles in a lengthy video message on Friday, hailing the “extremely strong union” that has been forged between the two countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“When you are hurt, it is very important to have someone to lean on. And when the enemy sets foot in your house, someone who reaches out to you. On the morning of the February 24, I had no doubts about who would say to me + Brother, you will not find yourself alone against the enemy +”, declared the Ukrainian president in this message addressed to President Andrzej Duda, to the Parliament and to the Polish people.

More than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the invasion, more than half of whom have been received in Poland, and around two million have been displaced within Ukraine itself, according to the United Nations High Commissioner United for Refugees (UNHCR).

Food concerns

The G7 countries have asked the international community to avoid any measure limiting food exports so as not to aggravate the current rise in prices on this market destabilized by the war in Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that Europe and Africa “will be very deeply destabilized in terms of food” in the next 12 to 18 months due to the war. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has estimated that an additional eight to 13 million people could suffer from undernutrition worldwide if food exports from Ukraine and Russia are permanently blocked.

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