War in Ukraine: explosions in Lviv, pressure on Donbass… update on the 41st day of fighting

A minute of unbearable images. Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday urged the UN to act “immediately” on “war crimes” committed according to him by Russia in his country, support video, presenting very raw images of dead people, particularly in Boutcha. If the noose has loosened around the kyiv region, now all eyes turn to eastern Ukraine. Russia strengthens itself to “take control of the whole Donbass and build “a land bridge with Crimea,” annexed by Moscow in 2014, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

kyiv calls on eastern residents to evacuate “now”

The regional authorities “call on the population to leave these territories and do everything possible so that the evacuations are carried out in an organized manner,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Wednesday, quoted by the Ministry of Integration on Telegram. She added that it had to be done “now” or risk “death” in the coming days.

If the Russian army were to launch a major attack on the region, “we would no longer be able to help” the inhabitants, he warned, “because it would be virtually impossible to stop the fighting.” “We must evacuate while this possibility exists. At the moment, it still exists,” insisted Ms. Verechchuk, who has coordinated the organization of humanitarian corridors since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24.

bombing in the east

Four civilians were killed and four wounded in Russian forces’ shelling on Wednesday of a humanitarian aid distribution center in Vougledar, eastern Ukraine, Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kirilenko said. “In the morning, the enemy cynically fired on civilians in Vougledar who had come to receive humanitarian aid. The shelling left four dead and four wounded,” Kirilenko posted on Facebook.

A few hours earlier, in Telegram messages, the governor had written that the “rocket” attack had occurred “during the distribution of humanitarian aid.” He had posted photos showing limp bodies dumped near a building whose windows had been blown out by residents held since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists.

Shells and rockets rained down at regular intervals on the industrial city of Severodonetsk on Wednesday, AFP journalists said. Severodonetsk, with more than 100,000 inhabitants before the war, is the easternmost city held by the Ukrainian army, very close to the front with the pro-Russian separatist territories.

One person was killed and five were injured in a shelling in the nearby town of Rubizhne on Tuesday, according to local authorities.

Further west in the area, having captured Izium a few days ago, Russian troops are camped some twenty kilometers north of the twin cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the capital of kyiv-controlled Donbass. Along a road linking Izium with Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, Ukrainian forces are preparing by digging trenches and placing artillery and other armor, according to AFP journalists.

Moscow is also targeting enemy logistics: during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the Russian army destroyed an oil depot in Novomoskovsk, near Dnipro, without causing any casualties, according to local authorities. An industrial city of one million inhabitants, Dnipro is crossed by the Dnieper River, which separates Ukraine in two.

explosions in the west

Explosions also occurred on Tuesday night in the small town of Radekhiv, 70 kilometers from Lviv, the big city in western Ukraine, a local official said, calling on people to take shelter. Close to the Polish border, Lviv has become a city of refuge for displaced people.

Two Ukrainian helicopters shot down in Mariupol

Russian forces are still seeking to consolidate their positions in the coastal strip along the Sea of ​​Azov, to connect the Donbass regions to the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014. The fighting is still focused in particular on the large port city from marioupolwhose mayor described the situation to AFP on Tuesday as “overcome the stage of humanitarian catastrophe”, while some 120,000 inhabitants are still trapped there.

The Russian army claimed to have shot down two Ukrainian helicopters that were trying to evacuate the leaders of a nationalist battalion defending Mariupol.

Further south, three hospitals in Mykolaiv “have been hit by shelling,” said the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF), present at the scene.

600,000 people “evacuated” to Russia

Moscow has evacuated “600,000 people” from Ukraine, who did not leave “under duress or kidnapped” as the West claims, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Security Council, Vassily Nebenzia, told the Security Council on Tuesday. “We did not come to Ukraine to conquer territories,” he also said, again questioning the accusations of atrocities against the Russian army.

cluster bombs

The UN “has received credible allegations that Russian forces have used cluster munitions in populated areas at least 24 times” in Ukraine since the invasion in late February, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Tuesday.

“Allegations that Ukrainian forces used such weapons are also being investigated,” added UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo.

In Boutcha, civilians were “deliberately” targeted –

The images that come out of Boutcha, a Ukrainian city where dozens of bodies were discovered after the withdrawal of Russian troops, “they point to civilians deliberately targeted,” a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday. “All signs point to the fact that the victims were deliberately targeted and directly killed. And this evidence is very worrying,” said Elizabeth Throssell, during a regular UN press conference in Geneva.

For his part, the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, estimated on Tuesday that the discovery of bodies in Boutcha was a “provocation” aimed at derailing the ongoing negotiations between kyiv and Moscow.

New sanctions

The United States announced a new series of sanctions “devastating” against Russia, targeting the big banks and the sons of Vladimir Putin. The UK has announced a ban on all British investment in Russia and imposed sanctions in the banking and energy sectors.

The two daughters of Vladimir Putin, in their thirties, appear on a new black list of European Union sanctions that is currently being examined by representatives of the Twenty-seven and that includes more than 200 names of business men and women, according to a document consulted by AFP .

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