War in Ukraine: the Russian army “repositions itself” according to NATO, shootings in a humanitarian convoy

WAR IN UKRAINE – This is a new phase of the war principle, and the West remains on its guard. This Thursday, March 31, Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of l’Otan said he expected “additional offensives” from the Russia in Ukraineensuring that the Kremlin troops were not withdrawn in any way, but “repositioned”.

According to the leader of the Atlantic Alliance, Russia “is trying to reinforce its offensive in the region of donbass” and “maintains pressure on kyiv and other cities”. For many observers, in fact, in the event of a Russian victory over the fierce Ukrainian resistance in Donbass, Moscow would have many more forces available to continue the offensives to the west.

In this regard, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky he said earlier on Thursday that he did not believe Moscow’s promise to “drastically reduce” its military activity towards kyiv.

An exit with which Joe Biden seems to agree. On Thursday night, the US president declared that he remained “sceptical” about Russia’s announcements about a partial withdrawal of his troops to concentrate the offensive in Ukraine in the Donbass region. “So far, there is no evidence that Vladimir Putin is withdrawing all these troops from kyiv,” he told reporters, at the end of a statement dedicated to at gasoline prices.

A conflict that will last

On the other hand, according to the Ukrainian Nuclear Agency, Russian forces have begun to withdraw from the nuclear site of Chernobyl this Thursday, where they had took control from day one of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Information confirmed by the US since a senior Pentagon official said that Moscow troops had begun their withdrawal from Chernobyl (north) and “abandoned” the Gostomel military airport, northwest of kyiv. But “we continue to think that it is a repositioning”, he clarified, along the same lines as NATO leaders.

“What we continue to believe is that these forces will be re-equipped and returned to Ukraine…to continue the fight in accordance with what we believe to be their objective, which is broadly the ‘East’, including the breakaway regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, in the Donbass, he added.

So many elements that lead Western officials to say that the conflict must last. “The fact that the Russians are prioritizing Donbass, increasing their numbers there and putting more energy into it, does not mean that it will be easy for them,” warned the senior Pentagon official, who recalled that there has been a conflict in this region since 2014. between the kyiv regime and pro-Russian separatists supported by Moscow. “It could herald a longer conflict,” he added.

In Mariupol, a martyr city, the situation is also changing a bit. After the announcement of a truce that would supposedly allow the Ukrainian authorities to evacuate civilians by means of 45 buses, kyiv has so far sent 17 vehicles there.

Shooting at a humanitarian convoy

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it is ready to “direct” the evacuation operations to the city of Zaporozhye, 220 km to the northwest, as of this Friday, as long as the necessary guarantees are in place.

However, according to the military administration of the Donetsk region, the Russian military again shelled the Donetsk region, the Donbass, just north of Mariupol, at night, sometimes with phosphorous bombs.

In addition, one person was killed and four wounded in shootings at a convoy of five buses carrying volunteers to the besieged city of Chernigiv in northern Ukraine, a Ukrainian official said on Thursday.

“Russian fighters fired on a volunteer convoy near Chernigiv. Five buses heading into the city to evacuate civilians were fired upon,” said Lioudmyla Denissova, a human rights officer in parliament. She accused Russian troops of “not leaving the slightest chance to evacuate civilians from besieged Chernigiv, leaving tens of thousands of civilians without food, without water, without heating.”

Haro on Russian gas

After Mariupol in the south, Cherniguiv, which had 280,000 inhabitants before the war, is the city hardest hit by bombing since the start of the war launched by Moscow on February 24.

Without “illusions”, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said on Thursday that he had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for an end to hostilities during a telephone interview on Thursday morning. A glimmer of hope for a peaceful resolution, the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers could meet “within a week or two,” said his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Cavusoglu.

In the background, the debates and maneuvers around the sanctions continued on Thursday. While Vladimir Putin threatened to stop delivering to countries who refuse to pay for Russian gas in rubles, Europe has formed a united front to demand respect for the contracts (and therefore payment in euros and dollars). A way to avoid keeping the Russian currency afloat while the effects of economic sanctions begin to be felt. At the same time, several European countries are beginning to implement plans to compensate for the sudden interruption of Russian gas supplies.

Parallel to this dispute, London and Washington announced new sanctions. The UK targets Russian ‘propaganda and state media’, including the owners of RT and Sputnik, to counter the Kremlin’s ‘lies’, while the US goes after the tech sector, including Russia’s largest semiconductor maker. Russia responded by banning European leaders and most MEPs from entering its territory.

See also in the Huff Post: Zelensky compares Mariupol to the ruins of Verdun in front of French elected officials

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