On Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities noted that the Russians continued to bomb cities in the north, while Russia announced on Tuesday that it would focus more on the south of the country.
Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday accused Russia of bombing the city of Cherniguiv in the north of the country all night, despite Moscow’s announcement the day before about a “reduction” of its military activity, a promise met with skepticism by Kiev and its western 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 Commission for its part announced to refugees in Geneva. “The situation is not changing, Cherniguiv is the subject of artillery and airstrikes,” said Regional Governor Viatcheslav Tchaous, adding 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.
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, adding 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 overnight, there have been several anti-aircraft alarms throughout the territory of Ukraine. However, the night was calm in most regions,” the presidency said in a statement.
Judge on show
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 do not see the Russians lowering the intensity of hostilities in the direction of Kiev and Cherniguiv,” added Vadym Denysenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister, on Wednesday.
No “real withdrawal”
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”.
Maternity evacuated to Mariupol
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 Ward No. 2 in the Left Bank 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 the Russian attacks on Mariupol were “a crime against humanity”.
About 160,000 civilians are still stuck in Mariupol – the city is shelled and in fierce fighting – facing a “humanitarian catastrophe”, living in shelters without electricity and lacking food and water, according to testimonies collected by AFP from people fleeing Mariupol.