Ukraine: Moscow aims for "total control" of Donbass and the south, a pocket of resistance in Mariupol

The humanitarian disaster continues in Ukraine.

Ukraine: Moscow aims for "total control" of Donbass and the south, a pocket of resistance in Mariupol

The humanitarian disaster continues in Ukraine. About a thousand civilians are still entrenched in a factory in the Azovstal industrial zone, in Mariupol, a city that the Kremlin now announces that it fully controls. And no evacuation corridor is planned this Friday according to kyiv. "Due to the danger threatening our routes, there will be no humanitarian corridors today," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram. The day before, three buses of evacuees from the besieged port of Mariupol had arrived in Zaporijjia, a large city in the south-east.

But Putin's army said it was ready to observe, "at any time", a truce "on all or part" of the Azovstal factory, in order to allow the evacuation of civilians and the surrender of combatants. “The starting point of this humanitarian pause will be the raising by Ukrainian armed formations of white flags over all or part of Azovstal,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday. He assures that the civilians who leave will have the choice of then joining territories under Ukrainian or Russian control.

Because according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the regional governor, it is "on the fate of Mariupol" on which depends the future of the war in Ukraine. He considers the city "strategic" both for Ukrainian defense and for the Russian invaders. The latter are indeed aiming for total control of southern Ukraine and the eastern region of Donbass, confirmed a senior Russian military official. "This will ensure a land corridor to Crimea, as well as weigh on vital infrastructure of the Ukrainian economy, the Black Sea ports through which deliveries of agricultural and metallurgical products are made," he said. - he continued, quoted by Russian news agencies, during a meeting with companies of the Russian military-industrial complex in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals.

READ ALSO >> War in Ukraine: after two months of fighting, the Russians announce the capture of Mariupol

At the same time, and faced with this inexorable advance by Russian troops in the east and south of the country, the United States and certain European countries are again preparing to send arms to Ukraine.

To enable Ukraine to resist the major Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, the President of the United States announced Thursday a new military aid of 800 million dollars. It takes the form of heavy artillery weapons, helicopters, howitzers, 144,000 munitions and drones, as well as additional economic aid of 500 million dollars to ensure the proper functioning of the Ukrainian government. Joe Biden had spoken the day before with President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce the first deliveries by Saturday.

Separately, Joe Biden called the total Russian takeover of Mariupol “questionable,” saying there was “no evidence Thursday night that Mariupol is completely lost.”

For their part, the Europeans, who are preparing to adopt a sixth package of sanctions against Russia, have also announced that they are delivering arms to Ukraine. Long considered a red line not to be crossed in order not to generalize the conflict, this posture no longer holds because of the atrocities committed by the Russian army in Ukrainian territory. The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland and Spain assured Ukraine of a rapid shipment of equipment, including tanks.

Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, described as "realistic" the possibility that the war in Ukraine lasts until the end of 2023. "Putin has a huge army, (...) he made a mistake catastrophic and the only option he has now is to keep trying to use his appalling, artillery-based approach to try to crush the Ukrainians," he said during a press conference in New Delhi. London is also planning to deliver tanks to Poland, replacing Soviet-designed tanks that the latter could supply to Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion.

The UN on Friday accused the Russian army of actions "could amount to war crimes" in Ukraine since the February 24 invasion, including indiscriminate bombardments killing civilians and destroying schools and hospitals. Among them, the "murder, including some by summary execution" of 50 civilians in the town of Boutcha in the suburbs of kyiv, said Ravina Shamdasaniune, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

If it is essential, the new financial aid provided by the United States to Ukraine nevertheless seems insufficient, according to the statements of the Ukrainian head of state, estimating Thursday at 7 billion dollars per month the need for Ukraine to cope with the economic crisis caused by the war.

A few days earlier, Ukrainian officials had told the International Monetary Fund that they needed $5 billion a month to keep the country's economy running. The IMF intends to grant financial aid to Ukraine "as soon as possible", as indicated by its managing director, Kristina Georgieva, but would favor the form of donations and not loans so that kyiv does not accumulate a colossal debt.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of seeking to stage a fake independence referendum in the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia it occupies.

"It's not just to conduct a census. It's not to give you humanitarian aid of any kind. It's actually to tamper with a so-called referendum on your land," warned the president in a video posted Thursday evening. In March, Ukraine had already accused Russia of wanting to fake a referendum in the Kherson region, as it had done in 2014 in Crimea in order to legitimize its occupation.

More than 1,000 civilian bodies lie in morgues in the Kyiv region, a Ukrainian official says, while Kyiv accuses the Russians of 'massacring' hundreds of civilians during their occupation of the region in March, which Moscow denies. In Mariupol, 127 civilians living in a neighborhood near the Azovstal factory, in which the last fighters are entrenched, were evacuated to Zaporijjia via a humanitarian corridor.

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