WAR IN UKRANE – This is a new phase of the war begin, and the West remains wary. This Thursday, March 31, Jens Stoltenberg, the general secretary of NATO said he expected “additional offensives” from the Russia in Ukrainemaking sure that the Kremlin troops did not withdraw in any way, but rather “repositioned”.
According to the leader of the Atlantic Alliance, Russia is “trying to extend its offensive in the region of” Donbass” and “maintains pressure on Kiev and other cities”. In fact, for many observers, in the event of a Russian victory over fierce Ukrainian resistance in the Donbass, Moscow would have many more troops available to continue the offensives westward.
It is in this sense that the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier on Thursday that he did not believe Moscow’s promise to “drasically reduce” its military activity toward Kiev.
An exit that Joe Biden seems to agree with. On Thursday evening, the US president said he remains “skeptical” in light of Russia’s announcements about a partial withdrawal of its troops to focus the offensive in Ukraine on the Donbass region. “So far there is no evidence that Vladimir Putin is withdrawing all these troops from Kiev,” he told reporters, at the end of a statement devoted to at petrol prices†
A conflict that will last
On the other hand, according to the Ukrainian Nuclear Agency, Russian troops have begun to withdraw from the nuclear site of Chernobyl this thursday, a place where they had took control from day one of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
On the US side, information confirmed since a senior Pentagon official said Moscow troops had begun their withdrawal from Chernobyl (north) and “abandoned” Gostomel military airport, northwest of Kiev. But “we continue to think it’s a repositioning,” he nuanced, in the same vein as NATO leaders.
“What we continue to believe is that these troops will be re-equipped and sent back to Ukraine… to continue the struggle in accordance with what we believe to be their target, which is the ‘East’, including the separatist regions of Lugansk and Donetsk , in the Donbass, he added.
So many elements leading western officials to say the conflict must last. “Just because the Russians are prioritizing Donbass, increasing their numbers there and putting more energy into it, doesn’t mean it will be easy for them,” the senior Pentagon official warned, recalling that since 2014 there has been a conflict in this area. region. between the Kiev regime and pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow. “It could predict a longer, longer-lasting conflict,” he added.
In Mariupol, a city of martyrs, the situation also changes somewhat. Following the announcement of a ceasefire that would allow Ukrainian authorities to evacuate civilians by means of 45 buses, 17 vehicles have been sent there by Kiev so far.
Shooting at a humanitarian convoy
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it is ready to “lead” evacuation operations to the city of Zaporozhye, 220 km to the northwest from Friday 1, provided you have the necessary guarantees.
However, according to the military administration of the Donetsk region, at night the Russian army again bombed the Donetsk region, the Donbass, just north of Mariupol, sometimes with phosphorus bombs.
In addition, one person was killed and four injured in shootings at a convoy of five buses carrying volunteers to the besieged city of Cherniguiv, in northern Ukraine, a Ukrainian official said Thursday.
“Russian fighters fired at a convoy of volunteers near Cherniguiv. Five buses bound for the city to evacuate civilians were fired upon,” said Parliament human rights officer Lioudmyla Denissova. She accused Russian troops of “not leaving the slightest opportunity to evacuate civilians from besieged Cherniguiv, leaving tens of thousands of civilians without food, water and heating.”
Haro on Russian gas
After Mariupol to the south, Cherniguiv, which had a population of 280,000 before the war, is the city worst hit by bombing since the start of the war launched by Moscow on February 24.
Without “illusions”, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said during a telephone interview Thursday morning that he had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to end hostilities. A ray of hope for a peaceful solution, Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers could meet “within a week or two,” their Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu said.
Debates and maneuvers over sanctions continued in the background on Thursday. While Vladimir Putin threatened to stop supplying the countries refusing to pay Russian gas in rubles, Europe has formed a united front to demand respect for the contracts (and thus payment in euros and dollars). One way to prevent the Russian currency from holding up as the effects of economic sanctions are being felt. At the same time, several European countries are beginning to initiate plans intended to compensate for a sudden stoppage of Russian gas supplies.
Parallel to this dispute, London and Washington announced new sanctions. The UK is targeting Russian “propaganda and state media,” including owners of RT and Sputnik, to counter the Kremlin’s “lies” as Americans go after the tech sector, including Russia’s largest semiconductor maker. Russia responded by barring European leaders and most MEPs from entering its territory.
See also on the HuffPost: Zelensky compares Mariupol to the ruins of Verdun in front of French elected officials