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What you need to know | War in Ukraine, day 41

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(Kramatorsk) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks before the UN Security Council on Tuesday, after the global shock wave caused by the discovery of numerous corpses in the liberated Ukrainian city of Bucha, where Kyiv accuses the Russians of massacre.

What you need to know

  • More than 4.24 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their country since the invasion ordered by Vladimir Putin;
  • Everything indicates that civilians were deliberately targeted in Boutcha;
  • Kremlin’s version of events in Boutcha undermined;
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the UN Security Council on Tuesday;
  • US President Joe Biden wants ‘war crimes trial’;
  • Beijing reiterates call for talks after accusations of massacres;
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel “this week” to Kyiv, accompanied by EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell;
  • More than 145 Russian diplomats expelled from Europe in 48 hours;
  • The bodies of the mayoress of the village of Motijine, that of her husband, their son and two other men were discovered;
  • The United States and its allies want to announce “this week” new economic sanctions against Russia;
  • Three new investigations opened in France for “war crimes” have been opened.

Denying any responsibility, Moscow accuses for its part the Ukrainian authorities of preparing “stagings” of civilians killed in several cities to condemn the Kremlin, while the European Union and Washington intensify economic pressure against Russia in the hope to make him let go in Ukraine.

Last measure in date, the American Treasury announced Tuesday that it did not authorize any more Moscow to refund its debt with dollars held in American banks.

“Russia must choose between emptying its remaining dollar reserves or (using) new incoming revenue, or defaulting,” a Treasury spokesperson summed up.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced a “deliberate campaign to kill, torture, rape” committed in Boutcha.

After the macabre discoveries in this city, the European Union has promised new sanctions “this week” against Russia.

“We are working together, France and Germany, to define what could be this new package (of sanctions) which will have to integrate Russian oil and coal”, declared in Berlin the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean- Luc Le Drian during a press conference with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock.

“Mother of all sanctions”

The European Commission has proposed that the Twenty-Seven cease their purchases of Russian coal, which represent 45% of EU imports, and that they close their ports to ships operated by Russians.

Mr. Zelensky, who denounced “war crimes” and “genocide” after the discovery of dozens of corpses wearing civilian clothes in Boutcha and other localities near the Ukrainian capital, must intervene on Tuesday on video before the Security Council for the first time since the invasion of his country.

On Twitter, the head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kouleba, called on the European Union to impose “the mother of all sanctions” on Moscow in order to “prevent ‘new Buchas'”. “Stop buying oil, gas and coal from Russia. Stop funding the war machine” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added.

Mykhaylo Podoliak, adviser to Mr. Zelensky, called in a tweet for Europe to give “heavy weapons today” to Ukraine.

In the theater of military operations, several bombings hit Kramatorsk overnight from Monday to Tuesday, a large city controlled by Kyiv in eastern Ukraine, a region where the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense says it expects an “offensive of the “enemy” with a view to taking “control of the entire Luhansk and Donetsk regions”.

“Crucial phase”

After the recent withdrawal of Russian troops besieging Kyiv and its region, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg felt that Russia was strengthening itself to “take control of the whole of Donbass”, in the east of Ukraine, and build “a land bridge with Crimea”, annexed by Moscow in 2014.

“We are in a crucial phase of the war,” he warned, saying he feared the discovery of “other atrocities” committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Since Monday, Russia has denied any responsibility for the “massacre” of which Kyiv accuses it in Boutcha.

On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry accused the Ukrainian “special services” of having “filmed, on the evening of April 4, a new filmed scene of civilians allegedly killed by violent actions of the Russian army in the village of Moshchoun, 23 km northwest of Kyiv”.

“Similar events are being organized by [ces services] in Sumy (northeast), Konotop (northeast) and other cities,” he added.

But for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “all the signs point to the fact that the victims [de Boutcha] were deliberately targeted and killed directly. And this evidence is very disturbing.”

Satellite images of the city released Monday by US firm Maxar Technologies also appear to refute Russian claims that the bodies of people in civilian clothes found in Boutcha were placed there after Russian troops evacuated the area.

On Saturday, AFP saw in Boutcha the bodies of at least 22 people wearing civilian clothes in the streets of the city. One of them was lying near a bicycle and another had shopping bags next to her. A corpse had its hands tied behind its back.

“Mass Graves”

In the liberated town, a resident told AFP that she had seen “in front of [ses] eyes” of members of the Russian forces shooting “at a man who was going to get food from the supermarket”.

According to the mayor of Boutcha, Anatoly Fedorouk, 280 people had to be buried by Ukrainians in recent days in “mass graves” in Boutcha.

Beijing, which has repeatedly refused to condemn Moscow for invading Ukraine, reiterated its call for peace talks on Tuesday.

The EU announced that the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell would travel “this week” to Kyiv to meet Mr. Zelensky there.

Still on the diplomatic level, after France and Germany on Monday, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Spain in turn expelled dozens of Russian diplomats on Tuesday, marking a further deterioration in relations with Moscow after the discovery of massacres attributed to Russian forces. In reaction, the Kremlin denounced the European “lack of foresight”.

In total, there are nearly 150 Russian diplomats whose European countries have announced the dismissal in 48 hours.

“4.2 million refugees”

In Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced the release overnight of one of its teams detained since Monday by the police in an area controlled by Russian troops near Mariupol, a southern city -eastern Ukraine besieged for several weeks.

The team “is now concentrating on the continuation of humanitarian evacuation operations”, specified the ICRC, for whom this incident “shows the volatility and complexity” of this operation.

Seven humanitarian corridors are planned for Tuesday to continue to evacuate as best they can civilians still stranded in the city, said Iryna Vereshchuk, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine.

According to the latest count from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 4.24 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their country since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.

Europe has not seen such a flood of refugees since the Second World War, and some 90% of them are women and children, the Ukrainian authorities not allowing the departure of men of childbearing age. weapons.

In France, the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT) announced on Tuesday that it had opened three new investigations for “war crimes”, for acts committed against French nationals in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

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