Ukraine: new UN convoy expected to evacuate civilians from Azovstal

A new UN convoy is expected on Friday to evacuate the last civilians entrenched in the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in this strategic port of Donbass, without however assurance of a truce in the fighting.

Despite this uncertainty, the UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, announced Thursday that this new convoy was heading towards the martyr city, which has become one of the symbols of the Russian invasion that began on February 24.

“As we speak, a convoy is on its way to arrive in Azovstal by tomorrow morning with the hope of recovering the remaining civilians from this dark hell, which they have inhabited for so many weeks and months, and bring them back to safety,” Griffiths said in Warsaw. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has confirmed that it is associated with it.

A hundred civilians had already been able to leave this complex last weekend, during an evacuation organized with the UN and the ICRC.

Information on the situation in the Mariupol steelworks, where civilians and combatants live entrenched in huge underground galleries, nevertheless remained contradictory.

Ukrainian President Wolodymyr Zelensky assured Thursday evening in his daily video message that Russian forces continued to shell the steel plant despite the Russian promise of a three-day truce that began Thursday morning.

The Russian bombardments continue to rage “while civilians still have to be evacuated, women, children”, he said in this message posted on his Facebook page.

– “Permanent death” –

“Imagine this hell! and there are children! More than two months of non-stop bombardment, death constantly close,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin for his part affirmed Thursday evening that “the Russian army was always ready to ensure the evacuation of civilians” from Azovstal, who could still number 200, trapped with Ukrainian fighters in this complex. .

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile assured that the Russian army respected the ceasefire around the factory, and that humanitarian corridors around Azovstal “were working”.

What the Ukrainian fighters on the spot have denied. The deputy commander of the Azov regiment, which defends these installations, Sviatoslav Palamar, assured in a video that “bloody fights” were taking place inside the site itself and that the Russians “did not keep their promise” of truce.

The total capture of Mariupol, a pre-war port city of nearly 500,000 inhabitants devastated by two months of Russian siege and bombardment, would be a significant victory for Russia as it approaches May 9, the day it celebrates with a large military parade in Red Square his victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.

The Ukrainians claimed that Russian forces were also preparing to march in Mariupol that day.

– Slowed down offensive –

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has only been able to claim full control of one major city, that of Kherson, in the south.

A man cleans debris from a broken window in an apartment building damaged by Russian strikes, in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, on May 5, 2022 (AFP – Yasuyoshi CHIBA)

Dmitry Peskov acknowledged Thursday that Western support had slowed down the Russian “special military operation” launched on February 24.

“The United States, the United Kingdom, NATO as a whole constantly share intelligence data with the Ukrainian armed forces. Combined with the supply of weapons (…), these actions do not make it possible to quickly complete “Offensive,” he said.

The New York Times wrote that intelligence provided by Washington to Kyiv led to the targeting of several Russian generals. Information denied Thursday by the Pentagon.

These actions “are however not able to prevent” Russia from achieving its “objectives” in Ukraine, added Mr. Peskov, after ten weeks of a military operation which left thousands dead, pushed to l exile more than five million Ukrainians. Russia maintains that one of the original aims was to “denazify” the country.

In this regard, the Russian president on Thursday apologized to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for the remarks of his head of diplomacy Sergei Lavrov, affirming that Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood”, according to a press release from the office of Mr. Bennett.

Volodymyr “Zelensky makes this argument: how can Nazism be present (in Ukraine) if he himself is Jewish. I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Lavrov said on Sunday evening to the Italian media group Mediaset.

Transcribed by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this allegation, which refers to rumors regularly denied by historians, aroused the anger of Israel.

– Confiscation –

European Council President Charles Michel during a press conference in Chisinau on May 4, 2022 (AFP - BOGDAN TUDOR)
European Council President Charles Michel during a press conference in Chisinau on May 4, 2022 (AFP – BOGDAN TUDOR)

On the diplomatic front, the President of the European Council Charles Michel spoke out on Thursday for a confiscation of Russian assets frozen in the EU as part of sanctions against Russia, in order to help rebuild Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president for his part launched a global fundraising campaign for Ukraine on Thursday, via a platform.

“With one click, you can donate funds to help our defenders, save our civilians and rebuild Ukraine,” he explained in a video on Twitter. The platform’s homepage offers a choice between a donation to finance defence, medical aid or reconstruction.

More than six billion euros “to help Ukraine and all those who support it” were collected during an international donor conference in Warsaw, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Thursday.

Finally, the UN and several countries on Thursday called for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine, with little mention of a relaunch of their apparently stalled peace talks.

“The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a violation of its territorial integrity and of the Charter of the United Nations”, repeated the Secretary General of the Organization, Antonio Guterres, during a meeting of the Security Council organized by Washington.


Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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