War in Ukraine | South increasingly isolated, including civilians

(Moscow) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to Russia next week, where he will be received by Vladimir Putin before traveling to Ukraine two days later, where he will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Updated April 22nd

Janie Gosselin

Janie Gosselin
The press

South facing





Will the Russian army continue its offensive in southern Ukraine as far as Transnistria, a pro-Russian separatist zone in Moldova? This was stated by a Russian commander, Rustam Minnekayev, on Friday. “Russia’s ideal would be to take Donbass and the southern part,” explains Anessa Kimball, associate professor at the Faculty of Political Science at Laval University. Russia would thus secure its access to the Black Sea and turn Ukraine into a landlocked country. “If that happens, it will be very, very difficult to uphold Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty,” added Mr.me Kimball. Nicolè Ford, a lecturer at the University of Tampa, considers the plan to be unrealistic and sees it as a “possible diversionary strategy”. Moldova has summoned the Russian ambassador to protest against the statements made by Commander Minnekayev.

Mariupol


PHOTO ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO, REUTERS

Anti-tank obstacles placed on a street in Mariupol

“The war in Chechnya was really terrible, with many human rights violations: if you look at pictures from Grozny and pictures from Mariupol, you don’t see any real difference,” said Dr.me Ford, specializing in the conflict between Chechen separatists and Russian forces that began in 1999. Press. Russia, meanwhile, claims to have “liberated” Mariupol. European Council President Charles Michel has asked the Russian president for guarantees to set up humanitarian corridors on Sunday, Orthodox Easter, to safely evacuate civilians – more than 100,000 are said to be still there. No deal was announced. The city would be half destroyed and 90% of the destroyed buildings would be residential according to a map The economist made from satellite images.

Azovstal


PHOTO ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO, REUTERS

Factory of Azovstal Industrial Complex, Mariupol

Several thousand Ukrainians – combatants, but also civilians – were still staying at the Azovstal industrial complex in Mariupol. The facility extends over approx. 12 km⁠2, an area slightly smaller than the commune of Sainte-Thérèse, with underground passages that make an attack difficult. Before the Russian military arrived, Ukrainians were stockpiling water and food to hold out the siege for a while, says David Marples, a researcher at the Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta. He doesn’t think that the Russian army will expend much energy to capture the factory. Unless, he says, one can use the defeat of one of the regiments known for its links to the far right, the Azov regiment, on the ground. “For Putin, for the Kremlin, capturing this entity, which is the closest thing to a neo-Nazi group you can find in Ukraine, would have great propaganda value,” he said. While the media on Thursday reported on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention to blockade the steel plant, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor told The Associated Press on Friday that the bombing of Azovstal was continuing.

war crimes


PHOTO MSTYSLAV CHERNOV, ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVE

Marianna Vishegirskaya leaves the premises of Mariupol Children’s Hospital after it was shelled by Russian forces, March

Killing civilians, attacking hospitals and schools, bombings in populated areas, use of cluster bombs against a train station: On Friday, the UN accused the Russian army of carrying out actions “that could amount to war crimes”. It is for the Court of Justice to decide this question. The spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights did not rule out that violations of international humanitarian law could also occur on the Ukrainian side, but specified that the “very large majority” of violations were committed by Russian armed forces. “I believe that the international community needs to have access to Mariupol as soon as possible and be prepared because I’m scared of the prospect that Russia will try to hide the evidence,” she said.me Ford. UN Secretary-General António Guterres will meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow next Tuesday, the first face-to-face meeting since the war began on February 24.

Moscow confirms one death


PHOTO MAX DELANY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ARCHIVE

The Russian cruiser Moscowin 2015

Russia conceded casualties for the first time on Friday, reporting the death of one sailor and the disappearance of 27 others in the cruiser’s sinking Moscow April 14th. The Department of Defense said the other 396 people on board had been evacuated. The flagship of the Russian fleet sank in the Black Sea last week. Ammunition explosions on board and poor weather conditions prevented towing, Russia had said; Ukraine, for its part, said it sunk the boat thanks to rockets. The Russian authorities announced for the first time last week that they had managed to save the entire crew, a version that was contradicted on social networks by the seafarers’ relatives and in the Russian-language media.

With Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

Learn more

  • 5,133,747
    Number of Ukrainians who have left the country since February 24

    SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION

    90%
    Percentage of women and children among the refugees

    SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION

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