Ukraine regains Kiev region, says Russia has accepted negotiation proposals

Ukraine announced on Saturday the 2nd that it had regained control of the entire Kiev region after nearly a month of Russian occupation, which left an apocalyptic scene and macabre images such as that of 20 corpses strewn across a street in Bucha, northwest of the capital.

Russian forces, as they had announced a few days ago, have reduced their presence in the Kiev and Chernihiv (north) regions after failing in their attempt to encircle the capital.

Now, Russian forces appear to be focusing their efforts on the east and south, five weeks after the start of the invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24.

In Mariupol (south), the Red Cross continues its efforts to organize the evacuation of tens of thousands of people trapped in that port city on the Sea of ​​Azov, without food, water and electricity.

“Liberation” from a scorched earth

The cities of “Irpin, Bucha, Gostomel and the entire Kiev region have been liberated from the invader”, announced Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Maliar.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhailo Podoliak said shortly before that Moscow had changed “tactics” and now aims to “keep control of vast occupied territories” in the east and south and “gain a powerful base there”.

The Russian withdrawal from the north made it possible to verify the devastation left by the war.

In Bucha, the bodies of at least 20 people in civilian clothes were scattered on a single city street, reporters from the AFP.

One of the corpses had its hands tied behind its back. The bodies were scattered over several hundred meters. According to the mayor of Bucha, Anatoly Fedoruk, “all these people were shot in the back of the head”.

The fighting and bombing left an apocalyptic scene, with huge holes in residential buildings and wrecked cars.

Fedoruk told the AFP by telephone that “280 people had to be buried in mass graves”, as it was impossible to do so in cemeteries, within range of Russian bombing.

Pope’s denunciation

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already opened an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

In an interview published by a Swiss newspaper, former international prosecutor Carla Del Ponte asked the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for Putin, calling him a “war criminal”.

According to the UN, more than 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the invasion, and in total there are more than 10 million people displaced.

Faced with a worsening “migratory emergency”, Pope Francis called for “shared” answers and named “some powerful” trapped in “their national interests” as responsible for the war, in what was interpreted as an allusion to Putin.

The Argentine pontiff revealed that he is thinking about traveling to Ukraine and denounced “the seductions of autocracy” and “the new imperialisms”, which carry the risk of a “prolonged cold war that could suffocate the lives of entire peoples and generations”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had sent a team to Mariupol to evacuate civilians after a failed attempt on Friday because “conditions made it impossible to proceed” with the operation.

Mariupol has suffered weeks of intense Russian bombing, with at least 5,000 residents dead, according to local officials, and 160,000 people stranded in the crumbling city.

Dozens of buses carrying residents who managed to leave the city arrived in Zaporizhzhia on Friday, about 200 km to the northwest.

“We cried when we arrived. We cried when we saw soldiers at the checkpoint with Ukrainian emblems on their arms,” said Olena, who was carrying her daughter in her arms.

“My house was destroyed, I saw it in pictures. Our city no longer exists,” she added.

In Energodar, a southern city occupied by Russian forces, a demonstration by residents who sang the Ukrainian anthem was violently repressed, leaving four injured, a lawmaker in Kiev said.

New American aid

Peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian authorities continued on Friday via video conference, but the Kremlin warned that a Ukrainian helicopter attack on a fuel depot in the Russian city of Belgorod would affect the talks. Kiev has refused to claim responsibility for the attack.

The main Ukrainian negotiator, David Arakhamia, assured that Moscow “orally” accepted the main Ukrainian proposals and that it awaits a written confirmation. He also reported that negotiations to end the conflict had progressed considerably.

According to the British Ministry of Defence, the attack on Belgorod and reports of explosions in ammunition depots near that city would exacerbate Russia’s supply problems.

Zelensky reiterated his call for the West to provide more military support to the country.

“Give us missiles, planes,” Zelensky pleaded on Fox. “Can’t you guys give us F-18 or F-19 fighter jets or what do you have? Give us old soviet planes. That is all. Give me something to defend my country.”

The Pentagon has announced that it will allocate $300 million in “security assistance” to strengthen Ukraine’s defense, in addition to the $1.6 billion that Washington has already provided since the start of the Russian invasion.

The package includes laser guided rocket systems, drones, munitions, night vision devices, tactical communication systems, medical equipment and spare parts.

Economy

Russia faces unprecedented Western sanctions that have driven multinational companies to flee the country. US officials said the Russian economy is likely to face a 10% contraction.

China, Russia’s major trade ally, has denied that it “deliberately” avoids Western sanctions against Moscow, a day after receiving an EU warning that any Beijing support for the Kremlin would damage economic ties with Europe.

The Ukrainian economy also suffers from the devastating effects of the war: GDP fell by 16% in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, according to estimates by the Ministry of Economy.

Both Russia and Ukraine are major agricultural and raw materials producers, and their collapse causes a sharp rise in inflation worldwide.

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

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