(Severodonetsk) Sixty people died in the Russian bombing of a school in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday night at a G7 summit that showed his unity and support for the country invaded by Russia at the end of February.
Posted at 7:32
Updated at 4:26 p.m
As Russia prepares for Monday’s celebrations of the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, which Russian President Vladimir Putin often likens to the deadly conflict in Ukraine, the conflict continues with little prospect of a pause anytime soon.
In the east, “just yesterday, in the village of Bilogorivka in the Luhansk region, a Russian bomb killed 60 civilians,” Zelenskyy said during a videoconference intervention at a G7 summit. “They tried to take refuge in the building of an ordinary school that was the target of a Russian air raid.”
The governor of the Luhansk region, Sergiï Gaidaï, made a similar statement on Russian-language television Current Time TV. On Sunday morning, he explained that “a total of 90 people” were on site at the time of the strike. “27 were rescued,” he added, adding that the temperature was very high after the explosion that “completely blew up” the school.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “appalled” by the bombing, his spokesman said.
On the same day, US First Lady Jill Biden met with her Ukrainian counterpart Olena Zelenska at a school in Ukraine near the Slovakian border, where she was staying this week. “I wanted to come for Mother’s Day. I thought it was important to show that […] that the people of the United States support the people of Ukraine,” she told reporters.
“Putin is responsible for these heinous war crimes,” says Trudeau
Other surprise visits include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Irpin, a town in the fighting-ravaged Kyiv suburbs, and Bundestag Speaker Bärbel Bas, also near the Ukrainian capital. in Boutcha, scene of atrocities against civilians.
“Vladimir Putin is responsible for these heinous war crimes” and “he will have to be held accountable,” Mr Trudeau said.
The G7, to which his country belongs, decided on Sunday to “gradually” wean itself off Russian oil.
“The entire G7 today committed to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil,” the White House said in a statement. This decision “will deal a blow to the main artery that irrigates Putin’s economy and deprive him of the income he needs to fund his war.”
At the European Union level, negotiations between member states continue earlier in the week to remove obstacles to the proposed European embargo on Russian oil, which is being obstructed by Hungary.
In Mariupol, a port city in south-eastern Ukraine almost entirely under Russian control, Ukrainian soldiers still resisting at Azovstal’s massive steelworks have ruled out surrender. “Surrender is not an option because Russia is not interested in our lives. He doesn’t care about letting us live,” said Ilya Samoilenko, an intelligence officer.
“The enemy is not ceasing its offensive operations […] in order to gain full control over the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson regions and to maintain the land corridor between these regions and Crimea, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014, the General Staff of the Ukrainian army warned.
He said Russian troops in the Donetsk region continued their attacks around Lyman, Popasniansky, Severodonetsk and Avdiivka.
“In Severodonetsk alone there were dozens of strikes and a hospital was also hit,” said the governor of the Luhansk region.
The town of Popasna is now in ruins and Ukrainian soldiers have withdrawn to take “better positions”, according to the same source.
On the Russian side, the Ministry of Defense on Sunday demanded the destruction of the Ukrainian “command post of a mechanized brigade” in the Kharkiv region (northeast) and the “communications center of the Chervonoglinskoye military airfield”. , in the southwest.
For several days, the Ukrainian authorities have been warning of a possible escalation of Russian offensive actions in the run-up to the May 9 celebrations.
“Evil Is Back”
“Evil is back” in Europe, “in a different uniform, under different slogans, but with the same goal,” proclaimed the Ukrainian president on Sunday, comparing Russia’s invasion of his country to Nazi Germany’s aggression against European states. in a speech commemorating the end of World War II in Europe.
“Decades later […]Darkness has fallen over Ukraine,” he said in a video recording of him being filmed in front of destroyed apartment buildings.
In Zaporizhia (southeast) on Sunday evening, 174 civilians, some with small children, arrived in eight buses “from the hell of Mariupol,” United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine Osnat Lubrani wrote on Twitter. About forty evacuees came from the Azovstal Steelworks.
Aid workers escorted elderly people, including an elderly lady in a wheelchair, to a reception center.
Zelenskyj had already started on Saturday: “We evacuated the civilian population of Azovstal”, citing the number of 300 people who had emigrated. “We are now preparing for the second phase […] : the wounded and the medical staff”.
Hundreds of people had taken refuge in the underground tunnels of the Azovstal Steelworks, which houses the city’s last defenders.
Moscow on Wednesday announced a three-day unilateral ceasefire starting Thursday morning to allow civilians holed up in the huge complex to leave. But the Ukrainian authorities claimed that the Russians did not respect it.
According to Yevgenia Tytarenko, a military nurse whose husband, a member of the Azov regiment, is still at the Azovstal factory, “many soldiers are in serious condition. They are injured and have no medication.” “There is also a lack of food and water.”
“I will fight to the end,” her husband Mykhaïlo wrote in a text message seen by AFP. They got married two days before the start of hostilities with Russia.
“Our units at the Azovstal factory site continue to be blocked,” the Ukrainian general staff stated on Sunday, referring to “Russian offensive operations” with “support from artillery and tank fire.”
Mariupol, which had a population of nearly 500,000 before the war, was almost entirely wiped off the map by two months of Russian bombardment.
“Victory will be ours,” says Putin
President Putin assured Sunday that “victory will be ours like 1945,” multiplying comparisons between World War II and the conflict in Ukraine in his May 8 wish.
However, so far Russia has only been able to claim complete control of one major city, Kherson.
Its residents will also be able to obtain Russian passports this year, revealed Kirill Stremoussov, the “vice-president of the (Russian) military-civilian administration of the region”.
In the commercial port of Mariupol, “work is in full swing,” but “there is still a lot to do,” said Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk Republic” by pro-Russian separatists. . “We expect a large-scale reconstruction in a very short time,” he added.
For his part, President Zelenskyy accused his Russian counterpart of “having forgotten everything that was important for the victors” of 1945.
Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine “shame Russia and the historic victims of its people (during the Second World War)”, the G7 states, for their part, were outraged at a virtual summit on Sunday.
The leaders of Germany, Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom “reaffirmed their commitment to take further steps to help Ukraine secure a free and democratic future.