Russia-Ukraine conflict: new convoy to rescue civilians from Mariupol

The UN announced on Thursday the shipment of a new convoy for rescue civilians of the Azovstal steelworks, last focus of the Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, despite the fact that Ukraine accuses Russia of not having respected a unilateral truce that it had promised to facilitate the evacuation.

Conflicting information

Reports about the steelworks in this port city in southeastern Ukraine are contradictory. The Russian President, Vladimir Putinsaid he “remains willing” to ensure a “safe” evacuation of civilians, but urged kyiv to order militiamen still at the plant to “lay down their arms”.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict, minute by minute

The spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov, He affirmed that the humanitarian corridors “are working” to evacuate the civilians sheltered in the kilometer-long tunnels of the steel mill, which according to the local authorities would be about 200. Peskov also assured that the Russian army was respecting the ceasefire, which according to the official announcement should last three days.

But a senior adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Olexy Arestovich, indicated that the Russians who entered the complex were repelled, without giving further details, alleging that the information available to him was contradictory. The deputy commander of the Ukrainian Azov battalion, Svyatoslav Palamar, took part in a video of “bloody fighting” and accused the Russian troops of “violating their promise of truce”.

Despite the uncertainty about the situation, the UN announced that a convoy of vehicles was heading to Azovstalwhere he should arrive on Friday morning, to proceed with the evacuation.

Putin’s plans thwarted by the West

The total conquest of Mariupol, after two months of siege and bombardment, would be an important victory for Russia ahead of May 9, when Moscow celebrates victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 with a military parade. Ukrainians fear that the Russians want to organize a victory march in this strategic port in southern Donbas, a region already largely controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

The Kremlin spokesman admitted that the aid of Western powers to Ukraine “does not allow the military operation to be concluded quickly”, that began on February 24, leaving thousands dead and forcing millions of Ukrainians to flee their homes. But, Peskov added, such foreign assistance “does not have the capacity to prevent” Russia from accomplishing its goals in the former Soviet republic, which has a pro-Western government.

aid to ukraine

Some 344 people were evacuated on Wednesday from Mariupol and its surroundings to Zaporizhia, a city under Ukrainian control, some 230 km away, according to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Y a hundred civilians left Azovstal over the weekendin an operation organized by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

But “there are still civilians. Women, children,” said Zelensky, who asked the UN Secretary General for help, Anthony Guterres, for new missions. The Ukrainian president also launched a global fundraising campaign to help his country, through a platform specially created for this purpose, United24. “In one click, you can donate funds to help our defenders, save our civilians and rebuild Ukraine,” Zelensky said in English in a video on Twitter.

Besides, over 6 billion euros ($6.3 billion) for Ukraine raised at donor conference organized in Warsaw, announced the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki.

Missile launch drills

Russian forces continue their offensive, especially in the east. The governor of the Donetsk region indicated that 25 civilians were injured in a shelling in a residential neighborhood of Kramatorsk. The Russian military said it had attacked a Ukrainian command post and two military depots at the city’s airfield.

On the northern border of Ukraine, Belarus, an ally of Moscow, began military exercises on Wednesday to test the reaction capacity of its army. And Moscow announced that its army carried out nuclear-capable missile launch simulations in the Russian exclave of Kaliningradlocated between Poland and Lithuania, two member countries of the European Union (EU) and NATO.

oil embargo

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday a gradual embargo on oil imported from Russia, but with an exception for Hungary and Slovakiatwo countries totally dependent on Russian supplies, which could continue buying crude from Russia in 2023. However, Hungary rejected the proposal “in its current form”, claiming that it “would completely destroy the country’s energy security”.

The British government announced the freezing of the assets of the Evraz steel group, whose main shareholder is the millionaire Roman Abramovich. At the diplomatic level, the Ukrainian president invited German President Frank-Walter Steinmeierand the head of the governmentOlaf Scholz.

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