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War in Ukraine, Day 47 | Mariupol on the verge of falling: realizing “the possible and the impossible”

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“It will be death for some of us and captivity for others. We don’t know what will happen, but we really ask you to remember [de nous] with a kind word”: this tragic message was sent on Monday on Facebook by the 36and National Navy brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which has been defending Mariupol for more than 40 days.

What you need to know

  • The conflict has so far made more than 4.5 million refugees;
  • Russia “will go to court” if found in default;
  • Ukraine’s army said on Monday it was preparing for “one last battle” in the devastated port of Mariupol;
  • Eastern Ukraine targeted by Russia;
  • Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 45.1% this year due to Russia’s war.
  • The conflict has so far made more than 4.5 million refugees;
  • Russia “will go to court” if found in default;
  • Ukraine’s army said on Monday it was preparing for “one last battle” in the devastated port of Mariupol;
  • Eastern Ukraine targeted by Russia;
  • Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 45.1% this year due to Russia’s war.

“The Last Battle” in Mariupol

“For more than a month, we fought without resupplying ammunition, without food, without water”, doing “the possible and the impossible”, added this unit, half of whose members would be injured. “Today will probably be the last battle, as our ammunition is running out. »

The leader of the pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk said on Monday that his forces had completely conquered the port area of ​​Mariupol. Already on Sunday, an adviser to the Ukrainian president had admitted that it was “now impossible militarily” to liberate the city.

  • Members of the pro-Russian troops on an armored vehicle in the port city of Mariupol on Monday

    PHOTO CHINGIS KONDAROV, REUTERS

    Members of the pro-Russian troops on an armored vehicle in the port city of Mariupol on Monday

  • A woman cries after her husband's body was exhumed near their home in the village of Andriivka, Kyiv region.

    PHOTO SERGEI SUPINSKY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

    A woman cries after her husband’s body was exhumed near their home in the village of Andriivka, Kyiv region.

  • A man walks past a pile of burnt-out vehicles on the outskirts of Kyiv.

    PHOTO EVGENIY MALOLETKA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A man walks past a pile of burnt-out vehicles on the outskirts of Kyiv.

  • A policeman examines the body of a man believed to have been killed by Russian forces in Boutcha.

    PHOTO RODRIGO ABD, ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A policeman examines the body of a man believed to have been killed by Russian forces in Boutcha.

  • Zinaida Makishaiva, 82, recalls how Russian soldiers treated her.  They notably shoot around her to scare her.  “God saved my life,” she says.

    PHOTO ZOHRA BENSEMRA, REUTERS

    Zinaida Makishaiva, 82, recalls how Russian soldiers treated her. They notably shoot around her to scare her. “God saved my life,” she says.

  • In Kharviv, many people are still forced to live in places safe from bombardment, such as this metro station.

    PHOTO ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS, REUTERS

    In Kharviv, many people are still forced to live in places safe from bombardment, such as this metro station.

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Mariupol, a martyred city, constantly bombarded and where more than 10,000 civilians have already lost their lives – according to estimates by the mayor of the city on Monday – is a strategic port. Its capitulation will allow Russia to control the entire coast in the south-east of the country.

Use of chemical weapons by Russia?

The United Kingdom was trying to verify information on Monday about the possible use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russian forces in Mariupol, according to British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

Any use of such weapons “would constitute a brutal escalation in this conflict and we will hold the [président russe Vladimir] Putin and his diet,” she tweeted.

The accusation came from the Ukrainian Azov regiment, entrenched in Mariupol, which claimed on Telegram messaging that a Russian drone had dropped a “toxic substance” on soldiers and civilians. Several people subsequently began to suffer from respiratory and neurological disorders.

Agence France-Presse was unable to verify these claims on Monday. Chemical weapons have been banned by a United Nations (UN) Convention since 1997.

A major offensive is also preparing in the east of the country: analysts believe that Vladimir Putin wants to obtain a victory before the military parade on May 9, which marks the Soviet victory over the Nazis.

Two-thirds of displaced Ukrainian children

4.8 million of the 7.5 million Ukrainian children who have fled their homes since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, UNICEF announced on Monday. Manuel Fontaine, director of emergency programs, said that such a number of displaced people in such a short time was a first in his 31-year career.

Allegations of kidnapping children to bring them to Russia have also been made by the Ukrainian ambassador to Russia, Sergiy Kyslytsya, who claims that 121,000 children ended up on the other side of the border. Russia has reportedly even drafted a bill to simplify adoption procedures for Ukrainian orphans. This information has been relayed to UNICEF, which has not been able to make the necessary verifications on the matter so far.

Sexual violence is also increasingly denounced, especially at the borders with neighboring countries, where the risks of human trafficking are significant, said Sima Bahous, director of UN Women.

The British channel BBC reported on Monday the harrowing testimony of a Ukrainian woman who was raped in the Kyiv region, while her husband was shot. The Ukrainian ambassador said the country’s prosecutor’s office had identified the assailant for a similar story, and an investigation was underway.

Sanctions and diplomacy

The Canadian government on Monday announced new sanctions against Russia, including asset freezes and transaction bans for 33 entities, including the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly also said that Russia no longer has a place at the next G20 summit, scheduled for Bali, Indonesia, in November.

On the diplomatic level, the Chancellor of Austria, Karl Nehammer, the first European official to go to Moscow, met Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he was “pessimistic” about his “logic of war”.

Josep Borrell, head of diplomacy of the European Union, also accused Monday Russia of “causing hunger in the world” with the war in Ukraine, by destroying wheat stocks and preventing it from being exported.

Ambassador-designate of Ukraine to Canada visits Montreal

Just out of the war, the new designated ambassador of Ukraine to Canada, Yulia Kovaliv, met with volunteers from the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Saint-Michel-Archange in Montreal on Monday evening. Its goal: to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the ground in Ukraine… as quickly as possible.

Formerly deputy chief of staff of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Yulia Kovaliv was appointed Canadian ambassador by decree on March 10. She herself left war-torn Ukraine, passing through Poland, she told the volunteers and diplomats gathered in the Ukrainian church on D’Iberville Street in Montreal.

“My goal is to thank all the people and volunteers for their work and their humanitarian support,” she told The Press. Because it’s precious. The volunteers of this church, like many others in Montreal, have collected donations since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia to bring them to the field. “The Ukrainian embassy is committed to providing them with logistical support so that humanitarian aid can be delivered in a timely manner,” she added.

Several other diplomats, including Eugene Czolij, honorary consul of Ukraine in Montreal, as well as members of the Polish consulate in Montreal, were also present to welcome Ms.me Kovaliv.

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