(Kiev) The Ukrainian president has assured that the Russian military is positioning itself in the east of the country in anticipation of “powerful attacks”, especially in the new attempt to evacuate civilians on Friday in the besieged port of Mariupol.
Posted at 12:27 am.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to cut off gas supplies to “friendly” countries that refuse to pay in rubles, aimed primarily at blocking the Russian currency, which affects the EU.
Russia has indicated this week that it wants to reduce its operations in Kiev and Chernivtsi, shifting its strike force from the north to the Donetsk and Luhansk (separatist) regions.
“This is part of their strategy,” Volodymyr Zhelensky said in a Thursday-Friday night speech.
“It will be very difficult for us. In particular, the situation in the east of the country is” very difficult. ”
“In the Donbass and Mariupol, in the direction of Kharkiv, the Russian army is strengthening in anticipation of powerful attacks,” the president said.
A sentiment shared by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg believes that while Russian forces are maintaining “pressure on the capital Kiev and other cities”, the Donbass region has not “retreated, but relocated”.
The renaissance marks a “protracted” conflict that could last for months, the Pentagon has warned.
Military experts believe that Moscow has abandoned plans to advance simultaneously on multiple axes in the north, east and south, due to difficulties in facing stronger Ukrainian opposition than expected.
According to U.S. officials, Russia has moved around Kiev after failing to capture 20% of its troops in the city.
But strikes on the capital continue, and Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, “Troops could probably be relocated in Belarus, re-deployed and redeployed and deployed elsewhere in Ukraine.”
More than a month after the Ukrainian invasion, the strategic port of Mariupul in southeastern Ukraine in the Sea of Azov is under siege and under constant attack. At least 5,000 people are believed to have died and 160,000 civilians are still stranded in the city.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya in the Russian Caucasian Republic, said thousands of men were fighting in the city, promising 90 to 95% of Russian control. Azovstel gave the last Ukrainian guards stationed at the plant a day to lay down their arms and surrender.
Attempt to exit
For its part, the British Ministry of Defense declared that it was “fighting fiercely in Mariupol”, but confirmed that the Ukrainians had “retained control of the city center”.
The evacuation attempt is scheduled for Friday. A delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for Ukraine tweeted that it was in the nearby city of Saboria and that buses should arrive from the besieged city there.
“We hope we can make it easier for civilians fleeing Mariupol to get to a safer route. We are here with two aid trucks,” the organisation’s Lucille Morpheus said in a video posted on Twitter.
The Ukrainian government announced that it had sent dozens of buses to Mariupol, and the local government said in a telegram that the public could begin boarding the neighboring town of Berdyansk on Friday morning.
People and voluntary organizations who were able to leave the besieged city described the catastrophic conditions there, where civilians were locked in cellars, without water, food and communication, and corpses littered the streets. The municipality also alleges that Moscow deported more than 20,000 people to Russia “against their will.”
On the diplomatic front, during a virtual summit with Beijing on Friday, the EU wants to persuade China to give up helping Moscow cope with Western sanctions.
For his part, Roberta Metsola, the Maltese president of the European Parliament, mentioned on Thursday evening that he was “going to Kyiv”. He will be the first head of a European company to visit the Ukrainian capital since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Earlier, Vladimir Putin announced that he would ban European leaders and the majority of MEPs from entering its territory in response to all sanctions targeting Moscow.
He also threatened to buy Russian gas buyers from “unfriendly” countries if they did not comply with the Kremlin’s demands.
“They have to open ruble accounts in Russian banks. From these accounts they have to pay for the gas distributed and tomorrow,” he said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholes immediately responded that European countries would continue to pay in Russian euros and dollars “as written in the treaties.”
In this context, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire during a visit to Berlin signaled that France and Germany were “preparing” for a possible halt to Russian gas imports.
After five weeks of war, the UN says 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine, including nearly 6.5 million internally displaced persons. 90% of those who left Ukraine were women and children.
Authorities in Kiev announced on Thursday evening that Russian forces had withdrawn from the occupied Chernobyl nuclear power plant since the first day of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“They took with them members of the National Guard who had been held hostage since February 24,” the Ukrainian state agency Energoatom was quoted as saying by Telegram staff. Their number is unknown.