Fearing a siege of Kiev, Ukraine has pledged its capital to “uninterrupted defense” of Russian forces advancing south of the country. The besieged city of Mariupol hopes for the arrival of a humanitarian relief contingent on Sunday.
The convoy was intercepted for more than five hours at a Russian checkpoint on Saturday. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vareshchuk said on Saturday that he could reach Mariupol on Sunday. The role is important for Mariupol.
This strategic port city located in the southeast of the country between Crimea and Donbass is plunged into a crisis situation, according to the Médecins sans frontières (MSF), “almost hopeless”, food shortages and water, gas, electricity and communications.
Attempts to evacuate hundreds of thousands of civilians have repeatedly failed. “The city of Mariupol is still surrounded. What they could not get by war, [les Russes] To get it through hunger and despair. They are targeting the people because they cannot defeat the Ukrainian army, “said a French military source.
In the words of General Mikhail Mijindsev, quoted by Russian news agencies on Saturday, Moscow acknowledges that the situation in “some cities” has taken a “catastrophic proportion”. But the military has accused Ukrainian “nationalists” of destroying residential areas, mines and infrastructure, and depriving civilians of escape routes and basic resources.
Further south, the city of Odessa continues to prepare for an attack by Russian troops, who are currently concentrated in the town of Mykoliv, about a hundred kilometers to the east.
Victims litter the streets of some cities and customs are unable to check. “About 1,300” Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since February 24, the first official figure provided by Ukrainian authorities since the start of the invasion, President Volodymyr Zhelensky said on Saturday.
The head of state says the Russian military has lost “about 12,000 people.” Russia, for its part, announced the death toll of its only one and 498 soldiers on March 2. At least 579 civilians were killed, the UN said on Saturday. The calculation emphasizes that its balance sheets may be much lower than in reality.
In the suburbs of Kiev
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, nearly 2.6 million people have fled Ukraine since February 24.
The only route south of Kiev is clear, according to Ukrainians, who are increasingly surrounded by Russian soldiers who destroyed the nearby Vasilkiv airport on Saturday. Currently in the suburbs, Russian troops are trying to neutralize the surrounding areas to “block” Kiev, Ukrainian civil servants said.
The British Defense Ministry estimates on Saturday that Russian forces were 25 kilometers from the capital and that a column had been scattered north of the city. However, AFP reporters noted that in the west and east of the capital, they face opposition from the Ukrainian military.
The presidency of Ukraine promises “uninterrupted security” in Kiev. The Ukrainian soldiers were met by the AFP, which confirms that their morale remains the same. The Russians “are forced to camp in villages where the night temperature is approaching -10 degrees. They have no supplies and have to loot houses, ”said Ukrainian soldier Ilya Berechenko.
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