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War in Ukraine | Russia uses hypersonic weapon, Zelensky wants to talk about peace

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(Kyiv) Russia intensified its offensive in Ukraine on Saturday, announcing the use, for the first time, of a hypersonic missile while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky judged that it was time for Moscow to agree to “discuss” seriously peace.

The Russian Ministry of Defense assured that it had used “Kinjal” hypersonic missiles the day before to destroy an underground weapons warehouse in western Ukraine, a first according to the state agency Ria Novosti.

This type of missiles, very maneuverable, defies all air defense systems, according to Moscow.

Russia had never previously reported the use of this ballistic missile in the two conflicts where it is belligerent, Ukraine and Syria. It has been deployed many times in exercises since the first successful test in 2018.

Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuri Ignat confirmed to AFP that “the enemy carried out strikes against our depots […] There was damage, destruction, detonation of ammunition”.

“Unfortunately, Ukraine has become a testing ground for the entire Russian missile arsenal,” he added to the Ukraïnska Pravda news site.

President Zelensky for his part considered that “negotiations on peace and security for Ukraine are the only chance for Russia to minimize the damage caused by its own mistakes”.


UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY PHOTO VIA AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

“It’s time to get together. It’s time to discuss. It is time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine,” pleaded the head of state in a video posted on Facebook, filmed at night in a deserted street.

“Otherwise, he warned, the losses for Russia will be such that it will take several generations to recover from them”.

Several rounds of negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow have taken place in person and by videoconference since the Russian invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24. The fourth opened on Monday at the level of delegations negotiating remotely.

The head of the Russian delegation spoke on Friday evening of a “rapprochement” of positions on the question of a neutral status for Ukraine – like Sweden and Austria – and progress on the demilitarization of the country. .

But a member of the Ukrainian delegation, the adviser to the presidency Mikhaïlo Podoliak, indicated that the “statements of the Russian side are only their requests for departure”.

“Our position has not changed: ceasefire, withdrawal of troops [russes] and strong security guarantees with concrete formulas,” he tweeted.

For the head of British diplomacy, Liz Truss, these talks are only a “smokescreen” used by the Kremlin before a new offensive.

In an interview at Timesshe said she was “very skeptical” about the negotiations, believing that Russia was using them as a diversion to “regroup” its forces.

” It’s hell ”

On the ground, a Ukrainian barracks was totally devastated by a strike in Mykolaiv, in the south of the country.

The site in the north of this city was completely devastated after being hit by six rockets on Friday.


PHOTO BULENT KILIC, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A Ukrainian soldier was found alive after spending 30 hours under the debris of a military school hit by a Russian strike on March 19 in Mykolaiv.

The Russians “cowardly carried out missile strikes against sleeping soldiers. A rescue operation is still ongoing,” Mykolaiv regional governor Vitaly Kim said in a video posted on Facebook on Saturday.

A soldier on the spot, Evguéniï, assured AFP journalists that some 200 young soldiers were quartered in this barracks. Dozens were killed, said another, without giving his name.

In addition, the spokesman for the regional administration of Zaporizhia (west of Kyiv), Ivan Arefiev, indicated that a bombardment on Friday had left nine dead and 17 injured.

Kyiv has admitted to “temporarily” losing access to the Sea of ​​Azov, even though Russia has de facto controlled the entire coast since early March and the encirclement of the strategic port city of Mariupol.

The Russian army said on Friday that it had succeeded in entering and fighting in the city center alongside troops from the separatist “republic” of Donetsk.

According to an adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior, Vadym Denysenko, quoted by the Interfax-Ukraine agency, the situation is “catastrophic” in Mariupol.

The Ukrainian authorities have accused the Russian air force of having “knowingly” bombed the Mariupol theater on Wednesday, which Russia has denied.

“More than a thousand” people had taken refuge in an air-raid shelter under this building, mainly “women, children and the elderly”, according to the town hall of this port on the Sea of ​​Azov.

Mr. Zelensky said on Saturday that more than 130 survivors had been extricated from the rubble.

“Some unfortunately suffer from serious injuries. But, at this stage, we do not have information on the number of possible deaths, he said, adding that “relief operations are continuing”.


PHOTO REUTERS

People who fled Mariupol by bus arrive in Zaporizhia on 19 March.

Fleeing the “hell” of Mariupol, families recounted the corpses lying in the streets for several days, hunger, thirst and the biting cold of nights spent in cellars with sub-zero temperatures.

“It’s no longer Mariupol, it’s hell,” said Tamara Kavunenko, 58. The Russians “fired so many rockets,” she adds, “the streets are littered with many corpses of civilians.”

According to Volodymyr Zelensky, thanks to the humanitarian corridors established in the country, more than 180,000 Ukrainians have been able to get away from the fighting, including more than 9,000 people from Mariupol.

“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. Russia “will answer for that. 100%,” he insisted.

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.

According to a tally as of March 18 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Ukraine, at least 816 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and more than 1,333 injured. He pointed out that this assessment was probably much lower than the reality.

Humanitarian emergency

Humanitarian needs are “increasingly urgent”, with more than 200,000 people without water in the Donetsk region and “serious shortages” of food, water and medicine, Matthew Saltmarsh said on Friday. Spokesperson at the High Commissioner for Refugees.

The bombardments continued on Friday in Kyiv and Kharkiv (north-west), the second largest city in the country where at least 500 people have been killed since the start of the war.

The capital has been emptied of at least half of its 3.5 million inhabitants. According to the town hall, 222 people – including 60 civilians – were killed there.

No overall assessment has been provided at this stage. Mr. Zelensky mentioned on March 12 the death of “about 1,300” Ukrainian servicemen, while Moscow only reported nearly 500 dead in its ranks on March 2.

In a daily forum The weatherSwiss President Ignazio Cassis said Russia’s war in Ukraine is “driven by devastating madness” and that his country is “ready to bear” the price for “valiantly and tirelessly defending freedom and democracy”. .

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