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War in Ukraine | Unsustainable pressures on Mariupol

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Russian troops continued their ruthless advance on the beleaguered port city on Saturday, as local voices called for help.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the siege of Mariupol by Kremlin forces as a war crime. “Doing this to a peaceful city is an horror that will be remembered for centuries,” he said in a video message released early Sunday (local time).

Surrounded by Russian forces, Mariupol sustains the siege without electricity or running water, as food and medicine become scarce.

“Children, old people are dying. The city is destroyed and it is erased from the face of the Earth,” a Mariupol policeman said in a video that has gone viral, which has been authenticated by The Associated Press.

In front of a rubble-strewn street, agent Mikhail Verchinin calls out “Biden, Macron”, the Presidents of the United States and of the French Republic. “You promised us help, give it to us!” “, he launches, urging these heads of state to be “great leaders […] until the end “.

Efforts to free residents trapped under the rubble of the theater bombed last Wednesday are hampered by street fighting, said Mayor Vadim Boitchenko. At least 130 people managed to get out alive from this theater which was used as a shelter, but 1,300 others are still there, Ukrainian authorities said on Friday.

Mariupol is highly strategic from Russia’s point of view. The fall of this city would allow it to link Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, to the territories controlled by the separatists it supports in the east, in addition to providing it with a rare victory in this conflict which is bogged down far beyond what she had expected.

The Azovstal steelworks, “one of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe”, according to an adviser to the Minister of the Interior of Ukraine, was the scene of intense fighting on Saturday. It was then “in the process of being destroyed”, declared Vadim Denissenko.


PHOTO REUTERS

Residents of Mariupol displaced in Zaporzhzhia after fleeing the besieged city

A total of 4,128 people managed to flee Mariupol to the northwest on Saturday through one of ten humanitarian corridors agreed with Russia, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced. The other corridors made it possible to evacuate 2,495 people elsewhere in the country, particularly in the regions of Kyiv and Luhansk.

Municipal officials in Mariupol also claimed that Russian soldiers had sent several thousand of their citizens to Russia – allegations relayed by several news services which, however, could not confirm them.

Raids on Mykolaiv

In Mykolaiv, a city in southern Ukraine considered the “shield” of the port of Odessa, located 130 kilometers to the west, Russian air raids followed one another in rapid succession on Saturday.


PHOTO BULENT KILIC, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A soldier is extricated from the rubble of a barracks destroyed by a strike in Mykolaiv.

The strike that fell on a barracks on Friday is believed to have killed at least 40 of the soldiers sleeping there, the New York Times citing a Ukrainian military official who requested anonymity.

Putin ‘not ready’ to talk to Zelensky

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, is not ready to negotiate directly with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, as the latter has demanded, a spokesman for the President of the Turkey.

“Putin thinks that the positions are not close enough to hold a meeting at this level,” said Ibrahim Kalin, one of the main advisers of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in an interview with the New York Times.

In his message to the nation broadcast on Sunday morning (local time), President Zelensky told Ukrainians that negotiations with Russia were neither “simple” nor “pleasant”, but that they were “necessary”.

He also said he discussed talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday. “Ukraine has always sought a peaceful solution” to the conflict, assured Mr. Zelensky.

For her part, the UK Foreign Secretary has accused Vladimir Putin of using the talks with Ukraine as a “smokescreen” as he escalates violence against the country.

In an interview at Times from London, Liz Truss said she was “very skeptical” about Russia’s seriousness in the talks, accusing Russian forces of trying to advance into Ukrainian territory.

She expects a situation of violence “worse and worse”.

China challenged

“China can be an important part of the global security system if it makes the right decision to support the coalition of civilized countries and condemn Russian barbarism,” said Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser to President Zelensky and participant in negotiations with Russia. , on Twitter on Saturday.

US President Joe Biden spoke at length with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday to warn him of the ‘consequences’ his country faces if it provides material support to Russia against Ukraine. The nature of his reprisals had not, however, been specified by the White House. For his part, President Xi had indicated that “the Ukrainian crisis [n’était] not something we wanted to see,” without using the terms “war” or “invasion,” according to Chinese media.

NATO should have been disbanded and consigned to the history books, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng suggested on Saturday.

“Rather than being dismantled, NATO has continued to strengthen and expand, and to intervene militarily in countries like Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan,” he said. in a speech describing the “crisis in Ukraine” as a “serious warning”.

With the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and the BBC

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