Ukraine in ‘extremely large’ rescue bid for beleaguered city


kyiv said on Thursday it was sending dozens of buses to evacuate civilians from the beleaguered city of Mariupol following the announcement of a Russian ceasefire, as the International Red Cross said it was ready to carry out the “desperately important” operation.

More than a month after Russia invaded Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s troops devastated cities like Mariupol with their relentless bombardment, killing at least 5,000 people in the port city alone. But they struggled to gain control of any significant territory.

Highlighting Russia’s understatement of Ukraine’s tough defense, Western intelligence operatives say Putin is being misled by advisers ‘afraid to tell him the truth’ about battlefield casualties or the calamitous damage the sanctions have done to the country’s economy.

Moscow said this week it would scale back attacks on the capital kyiv and focus on the east, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed the wishes as a red herring.

Russian forces continued to shell kyiv and the northern city of Chernigiv, where the region’s governor, Vicheslav Chaus, dismissed Moscow’s assertion that the fighting was defusing.

“The enemy is taking losses. It is moving into the territory of the Chernigiv region. Can this be called a withdrawal of troops? I’m not sure. At a minimum, it is regrouping, but it is possible that it withdraws. We must not let our guard down,” he wrote on Telegram.

Military experts estimate that with thousands of Russian soldiers killed and several thousand others injured, Moscow has no choice but to abandon its efforts to advance simultaneously along several axes to the north, east and south. South.

His aim turned east instead and captured more towns and villages in the Donbass region, including Mariupol, while continuing to launch long-range assaults on other towns.

“Desperately Important”

Around the capital kyiv, villages like Lukianivka bore the brunt of the Russian assault.

A trail of destruction testifies to the ferocity of the response mounted by Ukrainian soldiers to retake the small hamlet a week ago.

Examining the wreckage of a church in the village, Ukrainian army chaplain Nazarii Hahaliuk said it was inexplicable given that Ukraine and Russia share the Orthodox Christian faith.

He said he “did not believe as a person or a priest” in Russia’s promise to facilitate attacks on kyiv.

“I feel pain, I feel tragedy, I feel spiritual decline like someone who has been killed,” he said.

In the south, where tens of thousands of civilians were still trapped in heavily shelled Mariupol with little food, water or medicine, Ukrainian authorities made another rescue attempt.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 45 buses were heading to the port city in a new evacuation operation, as Russia said it would observe a ceasefire from 10:00 a.m. ( 07:00 GMT).

The International Red Cross said it was “ready to carry out the safe passage operation” on Friday if the modalities including the route and the duration are agreed by all parties.

Previous repeated attempts to agree a safe corridor to get them out have collapsed, but the ICRC said it was “extremely important” to make the latest attempt work.

The ICRC’s relief warehouse near the town was hit by Russian planes and artillery, Ukrainian mediator Lyudmyla Denisova said.

Russian forces have surrounded Mariupol, a strategic city for the Kremlin which must seize it to ensure an uninterrupted link between the secessionist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk which are de facto under Russian control.

“Don’t believe anyone”

Authorities in the eastern city of Kharkiv, which has also come under incessant shelling, said on Thursday it had been hammered by 47 artillery strikes and 380 rocket bombardments.

“We are working every day to secure the humanitarian corridors. At the moment, Russia does not offer this possibility,” Kharkiv governor Oleg Sinegubov said on Telegram, noting that one person was killed and three injured by “massive” shelling in the northern suburbs of the city.

Zelensky had warned his war-torn nation to prepare for another Russian attack in the eastern Donbass region.

“We don’t believe anyone, not a single nice phrase,” Zelensky said in a video message Wednesday night. “There is a buildup of Russian troops for further strikes in Donbass and we are preparing for it.”

“We will fight for every meter of our land,” he said.

On Thursday, Zelenksy again pushed Western allies to strike harder on the economic front, this time using a speech in the Dutch parliament to urge the Dutch to boycott Russian energy exports.

The EU joined the United States in imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russia, but with some members anxious to secure their own electricity needs, the bloc halted before enforcing a full energy embargo.

“Be prepared to stop energy (exports) from Russia … so as not to contribute billions to the war,” he said in a video address to Dutch lawmakers.

‘lead into error’

The United Nations estimates that 4 million Ukrainians – almost one in 10 inhabitants – have been forced to flee the country.

The head of the UN Human Rights Council has warned Moscow that “indiscriminate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes”.

A new round of video talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials are due to take place on Friday, following recent negotiations in Istanbul initially announced by both sides as having made progress.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that a high-level meeting “at least at the level of foreign ministers” could take place in a week or two.

In five weeks of brutal fighting, Russian forces have been humiliated by fierce Ukrainian resistance and forced to rethink any ambition to sack the capital or overthrow the democratically elected government.

“We have seen Russian soldiers – strapped for weapons and morale – refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” the head of the British spy agency said on Thursday. of GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, after similar statements from the White House.

Citing US intelligence, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said Putin “felt misled by the Russian military.”

But the Russian Ministry of Defense said Thursday that its “objectives have been achieved”.

“The first stage of the special military operation”, said Major General Igor Konashenkov, was “to force the enemy to concentrate their forces, means, resources and military equipment to hold on to the areas at high population density”.

He said the aim was to degrade and immobilize Ukrainian forces so that they could not be used “in the main direction of our armed forces in Donbass”.


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