The Russian military announced on Friday that it was concentrating its attacks on eastern Ukraine, while militants were optimistic about the progress of their negotiations to end the conflict.
At the same time, US President Joe Biden met with US troops in Poland, and after a trip to Brussels from Europe, the second step was to consolidate the union of Western nations against Russia on a diplomatic front rather than an economic one.
The Russian command, by Vice President Sergei Rutsky, stated that “the combat capabilities of the Ukrainian forces have been significantly reduced, which (…) allows to focus on the main objective: the liberation of the Donbass.”
Pro-Russian separatists have formed two “republics” recognized by Moscow in this industrial area in the eastern part of Ukraine.
Dmitry Medvedev, vice-president of the Russian Security Council, used words dear to Vladimir Putin to insist that the current military operation “continue until it aims to militarize and destroy Ukraine.”
At the same time, the Russian-Ukrainian talks seemed to be slipping.
“Levels converge on secondary points, but on key political issues (issues), we are stepping on water,” said Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s chief negotiator.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said the talks were “very difficult” and denied any “consensus” with Moscow.
Biden in Poland
During his two-day visit to Poland, Joe Biden, who was in the Rzeszow region about 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian border on Friday, will meet with Polish leaders in Warsaw on Saturday and head to the Ukrainian Refugee Reception Center.
Since February 24, more than 2.2 million people have fled the conflict and actually entered Poland, according to Polish border guards.
In the morning, the US president, in a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula van der Leyenne, announced Washington’s plans to create a working group aimed at reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and delivering them to Europe. An additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) this year.
At the same time, before Russia’s invasion, Germany imported a third of Russia’s and up to 45% of its coal, promising to keep Russian coal afloat and reduce its dependence on Russian oil. By the end of the year, by mid-2024, Russia will be “mostly free” of gas.
Kyiv called on the European Union to “completely block land and sea links with Russia and Belarus” to prevent the supply of goods that could be used for military purposes.
On the battlefield, Mariupol, a strategic Ukrainian port in the Sea of Azov, feared that about 300 people had died in the theater that was bombed on March 16.
Hundreds of people, mainly women, children and the elderly, have taken refuge in the building, citing witnesses and recalling the town hall.
More than 2,000 civilians have been killed in the besieged city, and according to the municipality, about 100,000 of its citizens are still trapped there, and they have nothing at all, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky.
Like the others, the Russian invasion, which is entering its second month, is becoming more and more a battleground, while Russia has admitted that 1,351 of its soldiers were killed in Ukraine and 3,825 wounded.
Bodies of abandoned Russian soldiers
On Friday, the Russian military said it had destroyed the Ukrainian military’s largest fuel reserve near Kyiv with cruise missiles, which it said were used to “supply units in the central part of the country.” The Ukrainian government has confirmed the attack.
The fire spread on Friday morning and emitted thick black smoke, AFP reporters said.
“We saw the explosion and it was very powerful,” an unnamed security guard told AFP. “Fortunately there were no casualties,” he said.
In the east, four civilians were killed and three others were injured when rocket launchers hit a medical center in Kharkiv, regional police said.
The remains of one of the equipment used were lying in a square of leathery lawn on Friday morning, AFP reporters saw, and they also saw several major fires caused by the strikes.
The mayor of the city of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekov, condemned the second “blind” and relentless Russian bombings in Ukraine on his city.
In Roubijné, near Lugansk, two people were killed in night attacks, said Serguiï Gaïdaï, the governor of the region.
The previous night, at least four people had already died there, including two children, and Ukrainian authorities accused the Russians of using phosphorus bombs.
When asked about these allegations, he denied that the Kremlin had violated international law.
In the Sumi region (northeast), Ukrainian forces are “fighting” to retake the city of Trostianets, Governor Dmitro Zhivitsky said.
According to him, the Russians do not remove the bodies of their soldiers and do not allow the Ukrainians to do so. In the streets, corpses are dragged to the ground and stink, he said.
The UN says dozens of Ukrainian officials, journalists and activists have been arbitrarily detained or disappeared by Russian forces.
135 children were killed
In a month’s war, President Zhelensky lamented that thousands of Ukrainians, including 135 children, had been killed, the prosecutor’s office said.
Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych revealed in a video on Friday that a Russian general had been killed near Kherson, the only major city to be completely captured by the Russians.
The Russian Orthodox Church, for its part, claims that a military cleric was killed in a rocket attack on a village in Russia, not far from Kharkiv. This is the first time a death has been reported in Russian territory since the attack began.
On Friday, Jack Sullivan, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, clarified that “the United States has no intention of using chemical weapons under any circumstances.”
The previous day, in Brussels, he had multiplied summits – NATO G7, EU -, for the first time the US president had promised a “response” from NATO if Russia sought chemical weapons in Ukraine. “.
Russian officials continue to accuse Westerners of carrying out a Russophobic campaign for their part, and Vladimir Putin compares Russian artists and cultural events in Europe and the United States to Nazi-planned burns in Germany.
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