Ukraine: Russian forces surround Kyiv and block Mariupol

Russian forces are positioned around Kyiv on Saturday morning and “block” Mariupol, where thousands of people are under a devastating siege, in southern Ukraine, a country that has been bombed for more than two weeks.

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Local media reported on Saturday morning anti-bombing warning sirens throughout Ukraine, including major cities Kyiv, Odessa, Dnipro and Kharkiv.

After twelve days of siege, Mariupol, strategic port, is without water, without gas, without electricity, without communications, and one saw there these last days people fighting for food. An “almost hopeless” situation, alerted Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

“The enemy is still blocking Mariupol,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday evening. “The Russian troops did not let our aid into the city,” he added, promising to try again to bring food, water and medicine there “tomorrow”, Saturday.

“Sieges are a medieval practice” prohibited by modern laws of war, indignant Stephen Cornish, the boss of MSF Switzerland and one of the coordinators of the NGO’s action in Ukraine in an interview with the AFP.

“Besieged Mariupol is now the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet. 1,582 civilians killed in 12 days, buried in mass graves like this one”, for his part accused the head of Ukrainian diplomacy Dmytro Kouleba on Friday in a tweet accompanied by a photo of a trench.


Yulia and her husband are among the few people who have managed to flee Mariupol since the siege began, having passed through Russian checkpoints in fear. “On the road, we saw burned civilian cars, sometimes overturned on their side. We understood that the Russians had fired on them,” she says.

Besides Mariupol, the Russians are concentrating their efforts on the cities of Kryvy Rig, Kremenchug, Nikopol and Zaporizhie, according to the Ukrainian army.

But their main target remains Kyiv, which they are trying to encircle. Present in the suburbs of the capital, they are seeking to eliminate the defenses in several localities to the west and north of the city to “block” it, declared the Ukrainian general staff.

“Kyiv is a symbol of resistance” which is preparing for a “relentless defense”, proclaimed in a video Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The humanitarian crisis is spreading, with more than 2.5 million people having fled Ukraine, 116,000 of whom are third-country nationals, since the launch of the Russian invasion on February 24, according to figures published on Friday by the United Nations. To these are added about two million people displaced inside the country, said the head of the UN agency for refugees, Filippo Grandi.

The majority of refugees are heading for Poland, which estimates, according to its border guards, that 1.5 million people have crossed the border since February 24.

These refugees “do not feel like visitors. You welcomed them into your families with tenderness, brotherly kindness,” Mr. Zelensky thanked in a lengthy video message praising the Poles.

The Western camp continues to increase economic pressure on Moscow, paving the way for punitive tariffs and drying up trade with the country.

The European Union and the G7 have joined Washington in revoking Moscow’s so-called “most favored nation” status, which facilitates free trade in goods and services.

Washington also attacked luxury goods, Joe Biden announcing the ban on imports of “key sectors of the Russian economy, in particular seafood, vodka and diamonds”.

The escalation of sanctions could continue, warned the European leaders meeting Friday at the summit in Versailles.

“If (Russian President Vladimir) Putin intensifies the bombings, lays siege to Kyiv, if he further intensifies the scenes of war, we know that we will have to take massive sanctions again,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the press. press after two days of meetings.

Mr. Macron did not rule out that the EU could later attack gas or oil imports, which have so far been spared because of their cost for Europeans, who are very dependent on Russian hydrocarbons.

For his part, Joe Biden warned Friday that Russia would pay “a high price” in the event of the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, but he pledged to “avoid” a direct confrontation between NATO and Moscow, because it would cause “World War III”.

Mr Zelensky, who has not been heard in his calls for military support, urged mothers of Russian soldiers overnight Friday to Saturday to hold back their sons.

“I want to say this again to Russian mothers. Particularly, to the mothers of conscripts. Do not send your children to war in a foreign country,” he said in a new video address released on Telegram.

“Check where your son is. And if you have the slightest suspicion that your son could be sent to war against Ukraine, act immediately” to prevent him from being killed or captured, he said.

The departures of European companies from Russia also continue with that Friday of the first German bank, Deutsche Bank, following in the footsteps of other international financial establishments.

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