Ukraine: Cherniguiv “bombed all night”, despite Russian promises

Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday accused Russia of bombing the northern city of Cherniguiv all night, despite Moscow’s announcement of a “reduction” in its military activity, a promise met with skepticism by Kiev and his allies.

The number of Ukrainian refugees who have fled their country since the invasion of the Russian army on February 24, mainly women and children, crossed the 4 million mark on Wednesday, the High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva announced.

“The situation is not changing, Cherniguiv is the subject of artillery and airstrikes,” confirmed Regional Governor Viatcheslav Tchaous, specifying that residents were deprived of water and electricity. This locality, which had 280,000 inhabitants before the war, is also “without communication and we can no longer repair them”, he added, also referring to strikes on Nijyne, in the same region.

After Mariupol in the south, Cherniguiv has been the city hardest hit by bombings since the start of the war Russia launched on 24 February.

Warning sirens in Kiev

In and around Kiev, warning sirens were heard several times during the night. “In the last 24 hours, the Russians have shelled residential areas and civilian infrastructure in the Kyiv region 30 times,” Regional Governor Olaxandre Pavlyuk told the Telegram, noting that areas north of Kiev were the most affected (Boutcha, Irpin, Vyshgorod, Brovary). .

Frequent explosions could still be heard Wednesday morning from the town of Irpin, which the Ukrainians announced on Monday had “liberated” from Russian forces, AFP found.

“Since the evening and through the night, several anti-aircraft alarms have been sounding throughout the territory of Ukraine. However, the night was calm in most regions,” the presidency said in a statement.

No breakthrough

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul on Tuesday yielded no “very promising” or “breakthrough,” the Kremlin said Wednesday, dampening hopes of decisive progress in the negotiations.

“At the moment we can not report anything very promising or any breakthrough. There is a lot of work to be done,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He nevertheless described as “positive” that the Ukrainian side “had finally begun to formulate its proposals in a concrete way and write them in writing”.

“We carefully avoid making public statements on the substance” of the topics of the negotiations because “we believe the negotiations should take place” discreetly, he added.

These statements stand in contrast to those, much more positive, from the Russian officials who participated in the discussions that took place on Tuesday in Istanbul.

Repositioning, not retraction

Russia promised on Tuesday after peace talks in Istanbul to “radically” reduce its military activity around Kiev and Cherniguiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had spoken of “positive signals”, although they “do not make us forget the explosions or the Russian grenades”.

The Ukrainian General Staff, for its part, was very skeptical. “The so-called ‘withdrawal of troops’ is probably a rotation of individual units, which aims to defraud the military command of the Ukrainian armed forces.”

“At the moment, unfortunately, we can not see the Russians lowering the intensity of hostilities in the direction of Kyiv and Cherniguiv,” added Vadym Denysenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister, on Wednesday.

For U.S. Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby, it would only be a “repositioning” and not a “real withdrawal.” “It is very likely that Russia will seek to transfer its force from the north to the (separatist) regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east,” the British Ministry of Defense said on its Twitter account.

This was confirmed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Russia has reached its “goal”: “the military potential of the Ukrainian armed forces has been significantly reduced, making it possible to focus attention and efforts on the main goal, the liberation of the Donbass.”

Judging by his actions

For Kiev’s Western allies, above all, it will be necessary to judge on the spot. “We will see if they keep their word,” US President Joe Biden told reporters on Tuesday, shortly after meeting with French, British, German and Italian leaders. “There seems to be agreement that you need to see what they have to offer,” he added.

In London, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said nothing else. London will judge “Putin and his regime on the basis of his actions, not his words,” he said. Britain is holding a donors conference on Thursday to mobilize more lethal weapons to Ukraine.

Earlier, these Western leaders had warned of any “slackness” in the Russian invasion and expressed “their willingness to continue to increase the costs paid by Russia for its brutal attack on Ukraine”.

In fact, the U.S. Department of State warned U.S. citizens on Tuesday that they were at risk of being arbitrarily arrested in Russia and urged them not to go there or to leave the country immediately.

Maternity forcibly evacuated

In Mariupol, the city hall on Wednesday condemned the forced evacuation to Russia of a maternity hospital. “More than 70 people, women and medical staff were forcibly taken away by the residents of Maternity Hospital No. 2 in the Left Broad District,” she told Telegram.

In all, more than 20,000 residents of Mariupol were evacuated “against their will” to Russia, according to the municipality, which claims that the Russians confiscated their papers and redirected them “to distant Russian cities”. This information can not be verified from an independent source, Mariupol has been besieged since the end of February with failing communication.

President Zelensky said on Tuesday that Russian attacks on Mariupol were “a crime against humanity”. According to the UN, two of the six civilian hospitals in Mariupol have been destroyed and three damaged, while the other sites continue with limited activity and are understaffed and without water, electricity and equipment. The shelling destroyed at least 65 buildings and damaged 126, according to the same source.

The conditions for launching a humanitarian operation in the coming days to help the people of Mariupol “are not met at present”, the French presidency also announced on Tuesday night after a meeting between French presidents Emmanuel Macron and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The French head of state had presented this evacuation operation – proposed at the end of last week by France, Turkey and Greece – to his Russian counterpart, who said “he would think about it” before giving an answer, the French presidency added. .

About 160,000 civilians are still trapped in Mariupol, shelled and in fierce fighting, facing “a humanitarian catastrophe” living in hiding in shelters without electricity and lacking food and water, according to testimony collected by AFP with people fleeing Mariupol .

Displaced residents

The situation also remains very difficult around Kiev, where the population is fleeing the villages east of the capital, where the inhabitants assure that the Russian forces continue to carry out a brutal occupation there.

“The Russian soldiers came and asked if they could ‘host’ five or six people for the night,” said resident Valerii Koriachenko. “They lifted the safety catch on the gun and politely asked us to leave anywhere, saying they lived there now,” he said, adding that they even took “socks and underwear.”

Northwest of Kyiv, the main checkpoint against Irpin was closed and access was denied to civilians, the city was still considered too dangerous because it was still within range of mortar fire.

“First we will do a reconnaissance, and then we will remove the bodies and secure the area,” Petro Kyseliov, acting head of the emergency services, told AFP. “The next step will be to secure the area and remove mines and booby traps, as there are reports that the bodies may also be booby-trapped,” he added.

strategic highway

The Ukrainian army has regained control of a strategic highway connecting Kharkiv with Chuguiv in eastern Ukraine, AFP reporters said on Wednesday. “The road was under fire from Russian forces, which killed civilians there. We pushed them back about ten kilometers further north,” a commander of the 92nd Brigade of the Ukrainian army told AFP.

This strategic highway, which was resumed on Tuesday, connects Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, with Chuguyv, a city of 30,000 inhabitants located 50 kilometers to the southeast.

The two cities have been heavily bombarded by the Russian army for more than a month without falling into the hands of Moscow forces.

A few kilometers from the eastern outskirts of Kharkiv, corpses of bullet-filled vehicles lay over this four-lane highway, and the body of a Russian soldier lay on its side.

The situation was calm Wednesday morning, AFP reporters noted. A backhoe started clearing work while a man from the neighboring village came to salvage his car where we could see the bullet holes.

This article has been published automatically. Sources: ats / afp

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