Volodymyr Zelenskyy says mines keep Kyiv unsafe as Ukraine denies responsibility for Russia fuel depot attack

KYIV, Ukraine – As Russian forces withdraw from the Ukrainian capital, retreating troops are creating a “catastrophic” situation for civilians, leaving mines around homes, abandoned equipment and “even the bodies of the dead,” he warned. on Saturday President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ukraine and its Western allies have reported growing indications that Russia is withdrawing its forces from Kyiv and sending troops to eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian fighters recaptured several areas near the capital after forcing the Russians to leave or enter behind them, officials said.

The visible shift did not mean that the country was facing a postponement after more than five weeks of war or that more than 4 million refugees who had fled Ukraine would return soon. Zelensky said he expects the departing cities to receive airstrikes and bombings from afar and that fighting in the east will be intense.

“It is not yet possible to return to normal life as it used to be, even to the lands we take back after the fighting,” the nation’s president said in a video message at night. “We have to wait until our land is demarcated, wait until we can assure you that there will be no more bombing.”

Moscow’s focus on eastern Ukraine also targeted the besieged southern city of Mariupol. The port city on the Sea of ​​Azov is located in the predominantly Russian-speaking region of Donbass, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops for eight years and military analysts believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to expand his control. failed to secure Kyiv and other major cities.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) planned to try to bring emergency supplies to Mariupol on Saturday and evacuate residents. The Red Cross said it could not carry out the operation on Friday because it had not received assurances that the route was safe. City officials said the Russians had blocked access to the city.

Mariupol, which was besieged by Russian forces a month ago, has been the scene of some of the worst attacks of the war, including a maternity hospital and a civilian theater. About 100,000 people are believed to remain in the city, out of a pre-war population of 430,000, and are facing severe shortages of water, food, fuel and medicine.

Occupying the city would give Moscow an unbreakable land bridge from Russia to Crimea, which it occupied from Ukraine in 2014, but has also taken on symbolic significance during the Russian invasion, said Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Ukrainian team. Penta thought.

“Mariupol has become a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance and without its conquest, Putin can not sit at the negotiating table,” Fesenko said.

The Mariupol city council announced on Saturday that 10 empty buses were heading to Berdyansk, a town 84 kilometers west of Mariupol, to pick up people who could get there on their own. About 2,000 people left Mariupol on Friday, some by bus and others in their own vehicles, city officials said.

Zelenskyy’s adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, said in an interview with Russian lawyer and activist Mark Feygin that Russia and Ukraine had reached an agreement to allow 45 buses to go to Mariupol to evacuate residents “in the coming days.” .

Such agreements have been concluded in the past, but have been violated. On Thursday, Russian forces blocked a convoy of 45 buses trying to evacuate people from Mariupol and seized 14 tonnes of food and medical supplies destined for the city, Ukrainian authorities said.

Zelensky said he discussed the humanitarian catastrophe in Mariupol by telephone with French President Emanuel Macron and with European Parliament President Roberta Metzola during a visit to Kyiv on Friday.

“Europe has no right to remain silent about what is happening in our Mariupol,” Zelenski said. “The whole world must respond to this humanitarian catastrophe.”

On the outskirts of Kiev, signs of fierce fighting were everywhere in the aftermath of the Russian rearrangement. Damaged armored vehicles from both armies left on the streets and fields and scattered military equipment covered the ground next to an abandoned Russian tank.

Ukrainian forces have recaptured the town of Brovary, 20 kilometers east of the capital, Mayor Ihor Sapozhko said in a televised speech Friday night. The shops reopened and residents returned but “remain ready to defend” their city, he added.

“The Russian occupants have now left almost the entire Brovary area,” Sapozhko said. “Tonight, the (Ukrainian) armed forces will work to clear the settlements of (remaining) residents, military equipment and possibly mines.”

Elsewhere, at least three Russian ballistic missiles were fired late Friday in the Black Sea region of Odessa, said regional leader Maksim Marchenko. The Ukrainian military said the Iskander missiles did not hit the critical infrastructure they were targeting.

Odessa is the largest port in Ukraine and the seat of its navy.

As the war continued, the US Department of Defense announced on Friday night that it was providing an additional $ 300 million in weapons to Ukrainian forces.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the new package includes laser-guided missile systems, drones, armored vehicles, night-vision devices and ammunition. Medical supplies, field equipment and spare parts are also included.

There was no immediate word on Saturday about the latest round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators on Friday. During a round of talks earlier in the week, Ukraine said it would be willing to abandon its bid to join NATO and declare neutrality – Moscow’s main demand – in exchange for security guarantees from many other countries.

On Friday, the Kremlin accused Ukraine of launching a helicopter attack on a fuel depot on Russian soil.

Ukraine has denied responsibility for the blast at a civilian oil storage facility on the outskirts of the city of Belgorod, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the Ukrainian border. If Moscow’s claim is confirmed, it will be the first known offensive in the war in which Ukrainian aircraft infiltrated Russian airspace.

“For some reason they say we did it, but in reality it does not correspond to reality,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine, told Ukrainian television.

Later, in an interview with US television channel Fox News, Zelensky declined to say whether Ukraine was behind the attack.


Karmanau reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Andrea Rosa in Irpin, Ukraine, and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy says mines keep Kyiv unsafe as Ukraine denies responsibility for Russia fuel depot attack Source link Volodymyr Zelenskyy says mines keep Kyiv unsafe as Ukraine denies responsibility for Russia fuel depot attack

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