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War in Ukraine, Day 43 | Kyiv calls on Russia to “reduce its degree of hostility” in the negotiations

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(Kyiv) Kyiv called on Moscow to “reduce its degree of hostility” in the negotiations after Russia accused Ukraine on Thursday of backtracking on proposals made during their talks in late March in Istanbul.

“If Moscow wants to show that it is ready for dialogue, it must reduce its level of hostility,” said on Twitter an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, also a member of the Ukrainian delegation in charge of discussions with Russia. .

A little earlier on Thursday, Russia had deplored that Ukraine had “presented to the group of negotiators a draft agreement in which it is obvious that it is going back to the most important provisions determined on March 29 in Istanbul”.

“This inability once again to find a negotiated agreement demonstrates Kyiv’s true intentions, its line aimed at dragging out or even derailing the negotiations, by rejecting the agreements that had been reached”, had castigated the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov.

According to him, in the text of the proposals made in Turkey, the Ukrainian side had excluded the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, from the guarantees of security and territorial integrity that Kyiv demands. However, in a new document presented on Wednesday, this part would have disappeared.

Nevertheless, he said, Russia is “continuing the process of negotiations”, reporting its own draft agreement without disclosing its content.

After a month and a half of war, discussions are still continuing between Russia and Ukraine without having, at this stage, enabled a concrete rapprochement of positions between the two countries, a prerequisite for a peace process.

The images of the massacres perpetrated in Boutcha or Irpin, near Kyiv, have moreover “eclipsed” the talks, regretted Thursday the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Cavusoglu.

Turkey has twice hosted direct negotiations between the two parties, the last of which was on March 29 in Istanbul, but “the positive atmosphere that emanated from them was unfortunately overshadowed”, insisted the minister who was speaking to the press in Brussels, following the meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

Leave “as soon as possible”

Under the threat of a large-scale Russian offensive in the east, Ukraine on Thursday urged civilians to take their “last chance” to flee and called for “weapons now” to defend themselves.

“The next few days may be the last chance to leave. All the free towns in the Luhansk region are under enemy fire” and Russian forces are “cutting off all possible exit routes”, its governor, Serguiï Gaïdaï, warned on Facebook.

And to announce the establishment of “corridors” to evacuate Thursday the population of seven localities of this region partly controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists. The day before, 1,200 people had been evacuated.

The new call to leave concerns in particular the city of Severodonetsk, the easternmost held by Ukrainian forces, regularly pounded by Russian troops.

On Wednesday, those of its inhabitants whom AFP journalists met there felt stuck, like Volodymyr, 38, in front of a burning building: “We have nowhere to go, it’s been days that’s how it is. I don’t know who this war is for, but we are here under the bombs…”

It is the entire area of ​​Donbass, as well as the neighboring region of Kharkiv, that the Ukrainian authorities have been calling for a few days to evacuate, insisting on the fact that in the event of a Russian offensive, the civilians who remained there would “risk death “.

The instruction seems understood and the mayor of Dnipro, an industrial city of one million inhabitants on the Dnieper, the river which marks the limit of the eastern regions of the country, underlined Thursday that a “very large number” of people there had arrived from the Donbass.

He also urged them to “leave, for those who can”, in the regions even further west “because it is safer there”.

Eastern Ukraine is indeed now the Kremlin’s priority target and the Russian Ministry of Defense announced Thursday that it had again bombarded four fuel depots supplying Ukrainian forces with missiles overnight.

As a result of this new strategy, the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv region and the rest of northern Ukraine “is largely complete”, according to a Western military source, although the redeployment is not yet complete and that Russian units remain present in Belarus, an ally of Moscow, on the northern border of Ukraine.

Governor Gaïdaï assured that Ukrainian officials would not allow in the East “second Mariupol”, this port city in the south-east besieged and devastated by the Russian army since the end of February.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meanwhile accused Russia on Wednesday of blocking humanitarian access to Mariupol to conceal the “thousands” of victims there and on Thursday called on Greece to do everything possible to help evacuate civilians from this city, which has always had a large Greek community.

“Weapons, weapons and weapons”


PHOTO FADEL SENNA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ukraine needs weapons from NATO countries “now” or “it will be too late”, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday.

To prepare for the expected offensive in the Donbass, Kyiv is asking for help from the West.

Ukraine needs NATO countries’ weapons “now” or “it will be too late”, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday at a meeting of the Atlantic Alliance in Brussels.

“Ukraine has the right to defend itself. We are going to listen to the needs that will be submitted to us” Mr. Kouleba and see “how to respond to them”, reacted the Secretary General of the Alliance Jens Stoltenberg.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but nothing prevents its 30 member countries from providing assistance.

Another aspect of Western support for Ukraine, economic sanctions, further reinforced Wednesday by Washington and London after the discovery of dozens of corpses in several localities near Kyiv, including Boucha, after the withdrawal of Russian forces.

Russia denies any abuse and denounces a Ukrainian “provocation”, but US President Joe Biden has castigated “major war crimes” and promised to “stifle for years” the economic development of Russia.

Washington wanted a new round of “devastating” sanctions, banning all investment in Russia and targeting the big banks… as well as the two daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to the United States, Russia could see its economy collapse by some 15% this year.

The Europeans should follow suit on most of these additional measures, but still remain divided on energy sanctions, to the chagrin of President Zelensky who castigated European “indecision” on Wednesday.

Kyiv even directly accused Hungary on Thursday of undermining “the unity of the EU” and of “helping Putin to continue his aggression against Ukraine”, saying it was ready to buy Russian gas in rubles, contrary to the other states of the European Union.

” Sooner or later “

The EU is currently examining a fifth set of sanctions which should be approved on Monday and includes for the first time measures in the energy sector, with an embargo on coal purchases from Russia.

And despite the differences between countries more or less dependent on Russian deliveries, the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, both considered that decisions on gas and oil would have to be taken “early”. or later”.

The European Parliament adopted on Thursday by an overwhelming majority a resolution calling for a “total and immediate” embargo on imports of “oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas” from Russia.

“We must impose an embargo on Russian oil and gas and I hope that it will not take new atrocities in Ukraine for these sanctions to be decided,” warned Dmytro Kouleba for his part.

Another consequence of the wave of indignation that followed the images of dozens of civilians killed, the 193 member countries of the UN General Assembly are called to vote at 2 p.m. GMT on a suspension of Russia from the Rights Council of the United Nations Man.

The G7 countries on Thursday called for the resolution to be passed, further saying that the perpetrators of the “massacres” in Boutcha “will be held accountable and prosecuted.”

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