April 16, 2024

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Ukraine: Putin orders continuation of fighting, reconstruction conference in Switzerland

Ukraine: Putin orders continuation of fighting, reconstruction conference in Switzerland

Sloviansk | Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered Russian forces to continue their offensive in eastern Ukraine after the capture of the strategic city of Lysitsansk, and an international conference opened in Switzerland to prepare for the country’s future reconstruction.

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“Ukraine’s reconstruction is a common task of the entire democratic world” and “a very important contribution to world peace,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said via video conference at the start of the meeting, organized in the southern city of Lugano. Swiss Confederation.

The conference, which is due to end on Tuesday, is being held because the outcome of the war, which was triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, remains uncertain.

In Moscow, during a meeting with his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Russian president, for his part, ordered his military forces to “carry out their tasks in accordance with already approved plans.”

On Sunday evening, Ukrainian civil servants announced the withdrawal of forces engaged in Lisitsansk, Kiev’s last stronghold in the Luhansk region, which Moscow says it now fully controls.

For Ukrainian forces, it is now urgent to contain the Russian advance to the west and two key cities in the neighboring region of Donetsk: Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

“gradual overflow”

After the capture of Lisitsansk, the centerpiece of a plan to capture the Donbass, an industrial basin partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, “the enemy’s main effort […] Ukrainian civil servants said on Monday that they aim to gradually fill the axis with Ukrainian forces.

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Ten people, including two children, died Sunday in Russian strikes in and around Sloviansk, according to the governor of Donetsk region, Pavlo Kirilenko.

As the front line approaches Sloviansk, Ukrainian authorities have called on residents to leave the area.

AFP reporters at the scene said the city’s streets were almost deserted on Monday morning. In a downtown market ravaged by a fire caused by a Russian strike, a handful of vendors provided basic necessities while others cleared charred debris.

Vendors and residents voiced their concern for days and weeks to come when they heard the sound of bombs.

Between Chiverskil, Lisitsansk and Sloviansk, Ukrainian forces appear to want to maintain a line of defense between the city and Bagmouth to the south. Residents interviewed by AFP noted increasingly intense bombings over Siversk in recent days.

“The enemy has intensified shelling of our positions in the direction of Bagmouth,” Ukrainian military staff confirmed.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it had destroyed “seven Ukrainian command posts” in the past 24 hours, “including the 25th Airborne Brigade in the Sivarsk region”. Unverifiable reports from an independent source.

$104 billion

In Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, in the country’s northeast, three civilians were killed in shelling early Monday, local officials said.

In Bautza, a martyred town on the outskirts of Kew, while some are busily planting flowers at the base of buildings or tending to vegetable gardens, people dare not think about reconstruction while the aftermath of the fighting remains. Uncertain. Here, the scars of the fighting are still visible everywhere: broken windows, bullet holes, burnt walls …

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“We go to bed not knowing whether we will wake up tomorrow,” breathes 65-year-old Vera Semenyok. “Everyone is back, starting to repair houses, many are putting in new windows. It’s terrible if it starts again and you have to leave everything again.

Although the outcome of the war remains uncertain, the Lugano conference on Monday and Tuesday is expected to try to draw the contours of Ukraine’s future reconstruction.

Volodymyr Zelensky admitted on Sunday that “the task is truly enormous” only in the liberated territories. Organizers of the conference had hoped he would come in person, but he took part in the meeting, as he is now accustomed to, via video conference, which brought together leaders of Ukraine’s partners, international organizations and the private sector.

The conference was planned before the war and initially focused on reforms in Ukraine and especially the fight against corruption.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Chymikal and Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanczok arrived in Lugano on Sunday. In particular, they should meet with European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen to lay the foundations for a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine. Figures range from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars.

Robert Martini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, ruled on Swiss public channel RTS that reconstruction, strictly speaking, should wait until the end of the fighting, although “it is essential to give the public a positive perspective.”.

The Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) has so far estimated the damage to buildings and infrastructure at nearly $104 billion. According to some estimates the country’s economy has already lost $600 billion.

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According to informed sources, the European Investment Bank (EIB) proposes to create a new fund for Ukraine, which will reach 100 billion euros.

The United Kingdom, one of Ukraine’s most active allies, will specifically support the reconstruction of the city and Kyiv region at the request of President Zelensky, the Foreign Office said on Sunday.