no ceasefire in sight, Russian army wants “complete control” over the Donbass

The war will enter its third month on Sunday, but the “second phase of the special operation” launched by Moscow has just started this week. “One of the objectives of the Russian military is to establish total control over Donbass and southern Ukraine,” a senior Russian military official said on Friday.

Russian troops, who withdrew from Kiev and the northern region and Ukraine at the end of March, already occupy much of the east and south of the country. It is now a matter of “establishing a land corridor” to Crimea and another leading to Transnistria, a pro-Russian Moldavian region with a Russian garrison, detailed General Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of the armed forces of the Central Military District. Russia.

Russia admitted losses

For the first time, Russia has acknowledged losses on its cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, which sank on April 14. A sailor is dead and 27 missingaccording to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The sinking of the Moskva is widely seen as a humiliation for Russia, and even pro-Kremlin commentators have asked for an explanation. Moscow says the ship sank due to the explosion of ammunition on board and bad weather conditions that hampered tow operations. But Ukraine says it sunk the building with missiles.

Ukrainian authorities, which have received more substantial arms assistance from the West in recent days, continue to ensure they can drive the Russian military from their territory. But they are also calling for an Easter truce. This was “rejected” by Moscow, Volodymyr Zelensky had scolded on Thursday. The Ukrainian president then accused Russia on Friday evening of having “brought death to Ukraine”, adding: “Death has no chance to win life, every Christian knows that”.

A “humanitarian break is needed for the safe evacuation of thousands of civilians seeking to leave dangerous areas where hostilities continue and possible, especially from long-suffering Mariupol,” with thousands likely dead, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said. Friday night on his site.

People watch as flames come from an apartment in a residential building on the northern outskirts of Kharkov after shelling on April 22, 2022.

People watch as flames come from an apartment in a residential building on the northern outskirts of Kharkov after shelling on April 22, 2022.


Humanitarian Corridors

This is in line with the telephone call from European Council President Charles Michel to Russian President Vladimir Putin to guarantee humanitarian corridors in Mariupol, a strategic port in the south-east largely destroyed by several weeks of bombing, and almost completely under Russian control.

“Call President Putin. Humanitarian corridors in Mariupol and other besieged cities must be reached immediately, especially on the occasion of Orthodox Easter” on Sunday, April 24, the representative of EU member states tweeted.

The Kremlin, for its part, confirmed at the end of this interview that Kiev refused the surrender of the last Ukrainian soldiers present in the Azovstal industrial zone, while the Russian army said it would observe a ceasefire “at any moment”. . in whole or in part” of this site to allow for the evacuation of civilians and the surrender of fighters. “The life of all Ukrainian military, nationalist fighters and foreign mercenaries is guaranteed if they lay down their weapons.” […] But the Kiev regime does not allow this possibility,” Vladimir Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement.

Moscow assured Thursday that it had “liberated” Mariupol. Ukrainian fighters “hold out” at the Azovstal factory where civilians are also entrenched, Kiev replied Friday. President Putin has ordered a siege, without attack, of this immense metallurgical complex.

“Counter Attack”

An adviser to the Ukrainian president, Oleksii Arestovitch, promised a “101%” “counter-attack” Friday night to retake Mariupol once the general staff decides, the Ukrainian press reported. It is that “the success of the Russian offensive in the south depends on the fate of Mariupol”, as the regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, confided a little earlier.

The UN on Friday listed a series of actions by the Russian army “possibly amount to war crimes”, and US company Maxar Technologies has released satellite images it says reveal “the existence of a second cemetery that has been expanded in the past month” in Vynohradne, a dozen kilometers from Mariupol. A first set of possible mass graves had recently been excavated in Manhush (west of Mariupol).

Would there have been a silence in the conflict in the night from Friday to Saturday? In an unusual way, the Ukrainian information channels did not even report the nighttime activation of air raid sirens on the territory of the country.

A war that will last

Several humanitarian corridors in Mariupol were canceled at the last minute, with Moscow and Kiev blaming each other for the failures. On Friday evening, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister also argued on Telegram that there was “a chance” to open one the next day, while lamenting “so many failed attempts”.

The UN Secretary-General on Tuesday denounced the new Russian offensive and asked both sides to stop fighting for a four-day “humanitarian break” on the occasion of Orthodox Easter. Antonio Guterres will travel to Moscow on Tuesday to meet Vladimir Putin and then to Kiev to see Zelensky.

Another peace initiative, that of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate: according to its leader, Metropolitan Onufrii, it is “ready to organize a procession” to “provide emergency aid and evacuate civilians” as well as “wounded soldiers “.

But truce or not, the capitals expect a conflict to last. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the possibility as “realistic” on Friday that the war in Ukraine will last until the end of 2023 because of Russia’s determination to continue its “terrible” offensive.

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