VOlodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of wanting to “destroy” the entire eastern region of Donbass. “Russian soldiers are preparing for an offensive in the east of our country in the near future. They literally want to complete and destroy the Donbass,” Volodymyr Zelensky hammered home in a video message. “Just as the Russian military is destroying Mariupol, they want to destroy other cities and other communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, he continued, before launching: “we are doing everything to ensure the defense “.
“Sabotage the occupiers’ orders.” Do not cooperate with them (…) You must stand your ground,” he said, adding to Westerners that “the need for an embargo on oil supplies from Russia is growing. imposes more every day”. In the east, the Russian Ministry of Defense assured Sunday that “high-precision missiles had destroyed warehouses of fuel and ammunition” in Barvinkove (region of Izium) and Dobropillia (not far of Donetsk).
“The constant bombardment of the region (of Lugansk) continues”, at the same time deplored its Ukrainian governor, Serguiï Gaïdaï. The locality of “Zolote was hard hit today. They deliberately targeted a five-storey building… Two people were killed and five injured”. In this context, the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister announced the suspension for Sunday of the humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from the eastern part of Ukraine, for lack of agreement with the Russian army on a halt to shots.
Evacuation of civilians
But Serguiï Gaïdaï, nevertheless urged civilians to evacuate the area. “Next week is likely to be difficult,” he warned. Now “this may be the last time we have a chance to save you” by leaving the combat zones, hammered the governor on Facebook.
Further north, in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, at least five people died on Sunday and 20 others injured in a series of Russian strikes, noted regional governor Oleg Sinegoubov. “Only in the last four days, 18 people have been killed and 106 injured” in the bombardments on this city, for his part noted Volodymyr Zelensky, castigating a “deliberate terror”.
Call to lay down arms
Ignoring the ultimatum from Russia, which had asked the last Ukrainian soldiers present in Mariupol to lay down their arms on Sunday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Chmygal assured that the resistance would continue. “No, the city did not fall. Our soldiers are still there. They will fight until the end. As I speak to you, they are still in Mariupol,” he told American television channel ABC. Moscow had asked the last Ukrainian fighters, entrenched in the Azovstal metallurgical complex, to cease fire in the morning and to evacuate the premises at midday.
“All those who have given up their arms will be guaranteed to have their lives saved,” promised the Russian Ministry of Defense on Telegram. “It’s their only chance.” In the early morning of Sunday, the Ukrainian General Staff reported Russian airstrikes on Mariupol and mentioned “assault operations near the port”, without further details. The capture of this city would be an important victory for the Russians because it would allow them to consolidate their coastal territorial gains along the Sea of Azov by linking the Donbass region, partly controlled by their supporters, to the Crimea that Moscow has annexed in 2014.
For Volodymyr Zelensky, “the situation in Mariupol remains as serious as it can be. Simply inhuman”. He believes that there are only “two options”: either the Westerners immediately deliver heavy weapons to help him lift the siege of this city inhabited by 441,000 people before the start of the Russian offensive on February 24, or they help him to obtain a cessation of the fighting through negotiation. “There is no food, no water, no medicine” in Mariupol, he got carried away with the media, accusing Moscow of “refusing” the establishment of humanitarian corridors. According to the Executive Director of the World Food Program David Beasley, more than 100,000 civilians are on the verge of starvation in Mariupol, also without heating.
Bombings towards kyiv
In the kyiv region, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that it fired high-precision missiles at an ammunition factory near Brovary. The mayor of this locality Igor Sapojko affirmed that “some elements of infrastructure had been affected” in the early hours of the day. Over the past three days, Russian forces have carried out several strikes on military factories in the capital region, following the downing of the cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea.
On Friday, a complex producing Neptune missiles, with which the Ukrainians say they sank this flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was thus targeted. And on Saturday one person was killed and “several” had to be hospitalized following a strike against a factory on the outskirts of kyiv, which notably manufactures tanks. The capital and its surroundings had been relatively spared from the bombardments since the withdrawal of the Russian army from this area at the end of March, but the loss of the Moskva sparked the ire of Moscow.
According to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who met Vladimir Putin on Monday in Moscow, the Russian president is “now in his own logic of war” and “believes that he is winning the war”. For his part, the head of the Italian government Mario Draghi regretted on Sunday the apparent ineffectiveness of the “dialogue” with the master of the Kremlin, noting that these contacts did not prevent the “horror” from continuing in Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelensky meanwhile said he invited Emmanuel Macron to visit his country to see that Russian forces are committing “genocide”, a term that his French counterpart has so far refused to use. Pope Francis, for his part, called on leaders to “hear the people’s cry for peace” in this “Easter of war”, again evoking “martyred” Ukraine.