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War in Ukraine | Humanitarian situation worsens, second hypersonic missile launch

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(Kyiv) The humanitarian situation is worsening in major Ukrainian cities, still under fire from strikes from Moscow, which announced on Sunday that it had used hypersonic missiles for the second time.

In a statement, the Russian Defense Ministry assured that “a large reserve of fuel was destroyed by “Kalibr” cruise missiles fired from the Caspian Sea, as well as by hypersonic ballistic missiles fired by the aeronautical system “ Kinjal” from the airspace of Crimea”.

This strike occurred in the Mykolaiv region, the ministry said, without specifying the date of the shooting. These missiles belong to a family of new weapons developed by Russia and which its president, Vladimir Putin, describes as “invincible”.

In Mariupol, a strategic city in southeastern Ukraine, which has been shelled for weeks and suffers from a shortage of water, gas and electricity, local authorities on Sunday accused the Russian army of having bombed the day before an art school serving as a refuge for several hundred people, ensuring that civilians were trapped under the rubble.

“The Russian occupiers dropped bombs on the G12 art school located on the left bank of Mariupol, where 400 Mariupol residents – women, children and the elderly – had taken refuge,” the municipality said. of the port city.

“The building was destroyed and peaceful people are still under the rubble. The toll on the number of victims is being clarified,” she added in a statement posted on Telegram.

These statements could not immediately be independently verified.

“Act of Terror”

The humanitarian situation in Mariupol, as in several other besieged towns, is dire. Families have recounted the corpses lying on the streets for days, hunger, thirst and the biting cold of nights spent in cellars with sub-zero temperatures.


PHOTO ARCHIVE REUTERS

Several debris litter the streets of Mariupol.

A group of 19 children, most of them orphans, are there “in great danger”, stranded in a sanatorium, their guardians having been unable to recover them because of the fighting, their relatives and witnesses told AFP on Saturday.

To inflict “such a thing upon a peaceful city […], it is an act of terror that will be remembered even in the next century,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech on Sunday. The siege of Mariupol “will go down in history for war crimes”, he said.

The bombings also severely damaged the Azovstal steel and metallurgical plant in Mariupol, a port and industrial city of crucial importance for the export of steel produced in the east of the country.

“One of the biggest metallurgical factories in Europe is destroyed. The economic losses for Ukraine are immense,” said MP Lesia Vasylenko, who posted a video on her Twitter account showing thick columns of smoke rising from an industrial complex.

“Absolute humanitarian catastrophe”

In the north of the country, the mayor of Chernihiv, Vladislav Atroshenko, portrayed an “absolute humanitarian disaster” in his city.

“The indiscriminate artillery fire in residential areas continues, dozens of civilians are killed, children and women,” he told television. “There is no electricity, heating and water, the city’s infrastructure is completely destroyed”. In a bombed hospital, “operated patients lie in the corridors in a temperature of 10 degrees,” he said.


PHOTO ARIS MESSINIS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ARCHIVES

A destroyed house in Kyiv.

The strikes have not ceased either in Kyiv, the capital, in Mykolaiv and in Kharkiv, a large Russian-speaking city in the northwest, where at least 500 people have been killed since the start of the war, according to official Ukrainian figures.

For the British Ministry of Defence, Russia “has failed to gain control of airspace and relies heavily on ranged weapons launched from the relative safety of Russian airspace to strike targets in Ukraine”, he analyzed in a press release.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Russian troops, whose progress on the ground has been much more difficult than expected in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance, have carried out 291 missile strikes and 1,403 air raids since the start of the invasion. February 24.

In an intervention in Russian posted on the Internet on the night of Saturday to Sunday, President Zelensky affirmed, for the benefit of Russian public opinion, that the corpses of Russian soldiers were strewn on the battlefields and were not not picked up.

“In places where the fighting is particularly fierce, the front line of our defense is simply littered with the corpses of Russian soldiers. And no one is removing these bodies,” he said.

The new units sent as reinforcements continue their offensive by passing “over” their corps. “I want to ask the citizens of Russia. What have you been doing for years to make you stop noticing your losses? ” he added.

According to him, more than 14,000 Russian soldiers have died since the start of the invasion.

The Ukrainian president, who has highlighted his Jewish heritage in his quest for support against the invasion of his country by Russia, addresses Sunday by videoconference to the Knesset, the Parliament of Israel, a country which is trying to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv.

Australia, for its part, announced on Sunday an embargo on its exports to Russia of alumina and aluminum ore, “which will limit its ability to produce aluminum”, a strategic material for the industry. armaments in particular.

Russia is 20% dependent on Australia for its aluminum ore needs, according to Canberra.

The Ukrainian president said that 180,000 people had so far been able to flee from combat zones through humanitarian corridors.


PHOTO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE, PROVIDED BY AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Volodymyr Zelensky

“But the occupiers continue to block humanitarian aid, especially around sensitive areas. It’s a well-known tactic. […] It’s a war crime,” said Mr. Zelensky on Saturday.

According to Ukrainian authorities, 6,623 people were evacuated through humanitarian corridors on Saturday, including 4,128 fleeing Mariupol and 1,820 fleeing Kyiv.

Since February 24, more than 3.2 million Ukrainians have taken the road to exile, nearly two-thirds of them to Poland, sometimes only a stage before continuing their exodus.

In London, their country’s yellow and blue flag flew on Saturday evening outside the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera where international ballet stars offered a grand humanitarian gala for Ukraine and sent a message of peace.

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