Wednesday, May 18

The keys of the day: refugees exceed 3.5 million and Ukraine warns about the humanitarian situation in Chernigov and Kherson

the offensive ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24 against Ukraine from the east, south and north The country has entered its 27th day. The Ukrainian authorities have drawn attention to the humanitarian situation in the cities of Chernigov and Kherson, and claim to have regained control of an important town near kyiv.

As the number of people fleeing the country exceeds 3.5 million, the Ukrainian president has addressed Italian parliamentarians and the UN secretary general has warned that this war “cannot be won”.

The negotiations

Russia has again accused Ukraine of trying to “harm the negotiating process” in response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s proposal to put any peace deal to a referendum across Ukraine. Reports Vanessa Rodriguez.

The battles

Many eyes continue to be on the devastated southern city of Mariupol. Russia demanded the surrender of the besieged city before dawn on Monday, something kyiv has again refused. “Our military is heroically defending Mariupol. We do not accept the ultimatum. They offered us to capitulate under a white flag. This is a manipulation, a lie,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

This strategic port on the Sea of ​​Azov has been the scene of the worst horrors of war under continuous attacks for almost three weeks, and hundreds of thousands of people remain trapped as electricity, water and food run out. The International Committee of the Red Cross has reiterated that people are trapped by heavy fighting and are taking refuge in unheated basements. Without running water, some have resorted to melting snow or using water from radiators. It’s unclear what part of the city Russia holds, and fleeing residents say fighting continues street by street.

The city of Chernigov, in the north of Ukraine, is in an increasingly serious humanitarian situation, as reported by the Human Rights Commissioner of the Ukrainian parliament, Liudmyla Denisova, who has said that half of the population has left and the electricity and water are scarce. “It is impossible to fix all this because of the constant bombardment.”

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, has said that the 300,000 inhabitants of the occupied southern city of Kherson are running out of food and medical supplies. “They are facing a humanitarian catastrophe due to the blockade by the Russian Army.”

Almost 1,000 buildings have been destroyed by Russian bombing in Kharkov, the second largest city, according to the City Council. More than three quarters, some 778, were residential buildings.

In the Lugansk region, in the east of the country, emergency services have said that the bombings have caused more than a dozen fires in residential and high-rise buildings and accuse the Russians of opening fire on a children’s hospital in Severodonetsk. . “As a result, the roof caught fire. Our rescuers quickly evacuated seven young patients and 15 adults.”

In the capital, kyiv, residents have returned to shelter in houses or underground under a 35-hour curfew imposed by authorities until Wednesday morning.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has stated that it has regained control of Makariv, a town located about 50 kilometers from kyiv, key due to its proximity to the highway that leaves from the capital to the west of the country. “During the day, thanks to the heroic action of our defenders, the Ukrainian flag has been raised in the city of Makarov. The enemy was repulsed.”

The head of the Military Administration of the Donetsk region has published a video showing how the city of Volnovakha, to the southeast, has turned out.

The Ukrainian Army says that Russia continues to block the exit to the Sea of ​​Azov. And he also stated on his part this Tuesday that the Russian forces have reserves of ammunition and food that will last “no more than three days.” “The mobilization is carried out in a chaotic manner (…) most of them do not have a military specialty, because they have never served in the Army.”




So far, Russia has made the most gains in cities to the south and east, while its forces have remained more stagnant in the north and around kyiv.

As reported by the New York Times Citing Western sources, the Ukrainian Army is organizing a counter-offensive to recapture territory captured by Russia in the south.

The British Defense Minister says in his latest intelligence update that despite heavy fighting, Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russian attempts to occupy the southern city of Mariupol. “Russian forces elsewhere in Ukraine have endured another day of limited progress with most forces largely stuck in place,” though several cities continue to come under heavy shelling.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believes that Russian forces did not make any major advances on Monday. “Northwest and northeast of kyiv they continued to bombard the city and reinforce defensive positions, but did not carry out major offensive operations.” to the northeast, they have not been able to solve logistical problems. In Mariupol, they continue to make slow but steady progress and target civilian infrastructure.

The runners

This Tuesday, Ukraine has said that the main focus of the humanitarian corridors will be on the evacuation of the residents of Mariúpol, with three routes to Zaporizhia, the main one from Berdyansk (halfway along the route), where they have arrived in recent days hundreds of people who have left the besieged city driving their own cars.

According to Kirill Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidency, a convoy of 24 buses has left Zaporizhia for Berdyansk to evacuate Mariupol residents, seven of whom are carrying humanitarian aid.

Multiple attempts to evacuate Mariupol residents have so far failed. Thousands of people – some 45,000 – have managed to get out in their private cars to Zaporizhia, but, according to kyiv, Russian forces have not allowed humanitarian aid convoys or buses to directly evacuate civilians to reach the city.

Ukrainian authorities have also accused Moscow in recent days of forcibly deporting Mariupol residents to Russian territory. The General Prosecutor’s Office is conducting an investigation into an “illegal deportation to Russia of 2,389 children from the occupied Donbass,” Denisova said.

Ukraine and Russia agreed in early March to establish humanitarian corridors to bring supplies and help trapped civilians out of certain areas while military action is, in theory, temporarily halted, but implementation to date has been slow and limited amid accusations. of violations of the ceasefire.

The victims

The total number of victims remains unclear and the actual figures are almost certainly higher than known. The latest data from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights The civilian victims rise to 2,510, including 953 dead –78 of them minors– and 1,557 wounded since February 24.

These statistics do not include the hundreds of victims reported by cities such as Mariupol, where local authorities say more than 2,300 people have been killed in the attacks.

Hundreds of thousands of people continue to flee in search of safety. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) calculate that more than 3.5 million people have fled to neighboring countries since the beginning of the invasion. The vast majority, 2.1 million, have arrived in Poland, but also to other countries that share a border such as Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Russia.

More than 6.48 million people are displaced within Ukraine as a direct result of the war, according to a study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The level of casualties among the armed forces is not entirely clear and information varies. the ukrainian military assure that Russia has lost around 15,300 troops. Authorities have said there are 562 prisoners. Moscow only reported its casualties at the beginning of March, several times lower, and has not updated them again: 498 Russian soldiers killed and almost 1,600 wounded. President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed during the invasion.

In its calculation of Russian losses, Ukraine claims to have destroyed 509 tanks, 1,556 armored vehicles, more than 330 artillery and multiple launch missile (MLSR) systems, more than 220 planes and helicopters, as well as several ships and drones. , among others. Russia has said that more than 4,000 Ukrainian military infrastructure assets have been destroyed.

In Russia, since the beginning of the offensive, the authorities have arrested 15,035 people in protests against the war, as reported by OVD-infoan organization specializing in monitoring arrests and defending detainees.

The sanctions

President Joe Biden has reiterated the accusations that Putin is considering resorting to the use of chemical or biological weapons.

Another speech by Zelensky in a foreign parliament to try to drum up support for Ukraine, this time to Italian legislators. “Imagine a completely flattened Genoa,” he has said of Mariupol, citing this similarly sized Italian port city. He has called for greater sanctions and pressure on Russia and has warned that the war in his country is Putin’s door “to enter Europe.” Zelensky has also spoken with Pope Francis.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has once again urged Moscow to stop the attacks and negotiate peace. “This war cannot be won. Sooner or later, he will have to move from the battlefield to the peace table. This is inevitable”, the head of the United Nations has predicted in statements to journalists. “Even if Mariupol falls, Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house. The only result of all this is more suffering, more destruction and more horror as far as the eye can see.”



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