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Russia bombs kyiv and Chernihiv after promising a “drastic” reduction in its military operations

Russia bombs kyiv and Chernihiv after promising a “drastic” reduction in its military operations

Russia bombs kyiv and Chernihiv after promising a “drastic” reduction in its military operations

Ukraine accused on Wednesday Russia to bomb the cities of Chernigov and kyiv, despite Moscow’s announcement that it would “radically” reduce its military activity, met with skepticism by kyiv and its Western allies.

The Russian announcement, made after negotiations between the two countries in Istanbul, raised hopes after more than a month of war that has left thousands dead and has pushed the number of Ukrainian refugees to over four million, mainly women and children, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Throwing a jug of cold water on those hopes, Russia assured this Wednesday that there is nothing “promising” after the negotiations with Ukraine.

“At the moment, we cannot report anything very promising or a breakthrough. There is much work to be done”the spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitri Peskov, told the press.

On the ground the “situation does not change”, according to Ukrainian authorities. “Chernigov was bombed all night” with artillery and planes, said the governor Vyacheslav Chaus, who specified that the town was still without water or electricity.

This city, which had 280,000 inhabitants before the war, is “without communications and we can no longer repair them”, he added, mentioning that there were also attacks against Nizhyn, in the same region.

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After Mariupol In the south, Chernigov It is the city hardest hit by bombing since the start of the war launched by Moscow on February 24.

“In the last 24 hours, the Russians have bombed inhabited areas and civilian infrastructure in the kyiv region 30 times,” assured the governor of the region, Olaxander Pavliuk, in Telegram, specifying that the areas north of kyiv were the most affected (Bucha, Irpin, Vyshgorod, Brovary).

In Irpin, which the Ukrainians announced on Monday that they had “liberated”, explosions could be heard on Wednesday morning, AFP journalists confirmed.

In the east, the Ukrainian army said it had regained control of a strategic highway.

“Since the afternoon and throughout the night, there have been numerous airstrike alerts throughout the territory of Ukraine. However, the night was calm in most regions,” the presidency said in a statement.

“We will see if they comply”

Russia had promised on Tuesday, at the end of peace talks in Istanbul, to “radically” reduce its military activity around kyiv and Chernigov. the ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskydescribed the signals as “positive”, but clarified that “the Russian explosions or shots do not turn off”.

The Ukrainian General Staff was highly skeptical. The so-called “troop withdrawal” is probably a rotation of individual units intended to mislead the military command of the Ukrainian armed forces.

“At the moment, unfortunately, we cannot see that the Russians are reducing the intensity of hostilities in the direction of kyiv and Chernigov,” Vadim Denisenko, adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said on Wednesday.

For the spokesman for the US Department of Defense, John Kirby, it would only be a “repositioning” and not a “true withdrawal”.

“It is very likely that Russia will seek to divert fighting forces from the north to its offensive in the (separatist) regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east,” the British Ministry of Defense said on Twitter.

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

For Ukraine’s Western allies it will be necessary to judge on the ground.

“We will see if they comply with what they propose,” said US President Joe Biden after speaking with the rulers of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy, who promised to maintain the sanctions.

Britain has said it will judge “Putin and his regime by their actions, not their words,” and will hold a donors’ conference on Thursday to mobilize more weapons for Ukraine.

Still, the face-to-face meeting in Istanbul was the first sign of progress in discussions to end the conflict. According to Ukraine, there are “sufficient” conditions for Zelensky meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Evacuated maternity in Mariupol

Some 20,000 people have died in the conflict, according to Zelenskyalthough the number of casualties could not be independently verified.

The Mariúpol mayor’s office denounced this Wednesday the forced evacuation to Russia of more than 70 people — women and medical personnel — from a maternity hospital.

In all, more than 20,000 Mariupol residents have been evacuated “against their will” to Russia, according to the municipality, which claims the Russians confiscated their documents and redirected them “to distant Russian cities.”

Zelensky declared on Tuesday that the Russian attacks on Mariupol were “a crime against humanity.”

According to the UN, two of the six civilian hospitals in Mariupol were destroyed and three were damaged, while the other centers continue to have limited activity and lack staff, water, electricity and equipment. The shelling destroyed at least 65 buildings and damaged 126, according to the same source.

Some 160,000 civilians remain trapped in battered and besieged Mariúpol and face a “humanitarian catastrophe” as they live in shelters without electricity and lack food and water, according to testimonies collected by AFP from those who fled that city.

“We buried our neighbors, we saw dead everywhere and even my children saw it,” said Mariia Tsymmerman, who fled to Zaporizhia two weeks ago but now intends to return to bring supplies and help others out.

Russian forces have surrounded the city and their constant and indiscriminate bombardment has left at least 5,000 dead, although it could be 10,000, according to a senior Ukrainian official.

France, Greece and Turkey tried to organize a mass evacuation of civilians from that city, but talks on Tuesday between French President Emmanuel Macron and Putin ended without agreement.

Source: Elcomercio

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