women and children evacuated from Azovstal, fighting continues

Women, children and the elderly were all evacuated Saturday from the Azovstal steelworks, the last pocket of resistance in the devastated city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian authorities fear that the Russian offensive may resume with renewed vigor. on Nazi Germany on 9 May.

Russian head of state Vladimir Putin, who thinks he cannot “afford to lose” in Ukraine, is “convinced that redoubling his efforts will allow him to progress”, assured the director of the CIA, the main American intelligence agency on the same day. , Bill Burns.

There is, however, “no concrete evidence” that Russia, which alerted its deterrent forces shortly after the start of its military intervention, “is preparing the deployment or even the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons” in this. conflict, he stressed.

“The order of the president (Volodymyr Zelensky) has been carried out: all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from the Azovstal. This part of the humanitarian mission in Mariupol has been fulfilled,” announced Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna. Vereshchuk.

On Friday, 50 people, always among the most vulnerable civilians, were able to leave the huge steel complex.

These operations, which have been taking place for a week under the aegis of the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), have allowed, according to Kiev, the escape of almost 500 people.

– Bombing from south to north-east –

The Ukrainian defense ministry, on the other hand, said Saturday that “the enemy has not stopped its offensive”, “blocking” in particular the defenders of the Azovstal district.

Ukrainian army personnel assured that Russian forces had again attacked this factory the day before, despite the ceasefire that they unilaterally decreed on Thursday for three days.

Mariupol, a port city in the southeast that had nearly 500,000 inhabitants before the war, has been almost completely wiped off the map by two months of Russian bombing.

In the southwest, airports in the regions of Artsyz, close to Romania, Odessa, the great Ukrainian port on the Black Sea, and Voznessensk, north of Mykolaiv, have been targeted, for its part announced on Saturday evening by the Russian defense ministry. .

In the northeast, Iskander mobile ballistic missile systems “destroyed large quantities of weapons and military equipment delivered by the United States and other Western countries” at stations in Krasnograd and Karlovka, not far from Kharkiv, he continued.

According to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, strikes were also reported on Saturday around Donetsk (east), where four people were killed and nine injured.

The Russians have achieved limited territorial gains in the past 24 hours around Severodonetsk, a major Ukrainian-held locality in Donbass, but this should not lead to complete encirclement, the American Institute of War Studies (ISW) noted.

– Sunken boats –

Conversely, in Kharkiv, the Ukrainian counter-offensive to put Ukraine’s second city out of reach of enemy artillery gained momentum, with the capture of several Russian positions, according to the ISW.

“Ukrainian forces are regaining ground along a large arc around Kharkiv and are no longer focusing on a limited thrust, demonstrating an ability to launch offensive operations on a larger scale than has been done so far in this war,” explained this institute. .

So much so that the Russian army had to blow up three road bridges “to slow the counter-offensive” in this region, according to the Ukrainian defense ministry.

The Ukrainian navy has meanwhile claimed to have destroyed 100 kilometers from Odessa, not far from the tiny island of snakes, a Russian landing ship using a combat drone developed in Turkey.

Information that Russia has not confirmed, claiming to have sank “the Ukrainian assault ship ‘Stanislav'”.

More generally, the UK Defense Ministry said in a report that the conflict was causing “damage to the most combat-capable Russian units”.

– Intensification of strikes? –

As 9 May approaches, the Ukrainian authorities expect an intensification of the Russian attacks.

“Please do not ignore the air warnings and go immediately to the shelters, the risk of bombing is very likely in all regions of Ukraine,” said Mayor of Kiev Vitaly Klitschko on Friday, adding that no one will take place in the Ukrainian capital. commemoration of the 1945 victory.

“The enemy is trying to finish off the Azovstal defenders, they are trying to do it before May 9 to make a gift to Vladimir Putin,” warned Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to President Zelensky.

So far Russia has been able to claim complete control of one of the main cities, Kherson.

On Saturday in Moscow, the Russian army carried out the last rehearsals on Red Square before the traditional military parade on 9 May, in the presence of the soldiers who took part in the offensive in Ukraine.

On the sidelines of this war, authorities in the pro-Russian separatist region of Transdniestria in Moldova announced on Saturday that four explosions had occurred the night before in a village on the border with Ukraine, without causing casualties.

Fears that the conflict in Ukraine could extend into Transnistria have grown in recent weeks after a Russian general revealed that one of Russia’s goals was to establish a corridor to the small territory.

– China is following the conflict “carefully” –

For her part, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, denounced on Saturday the “dizzying” violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Russian army in Ukraine, after a four-day visit in kyiv and its region.

There have been a total of “200 attacks on health facilities” in this country since the outbreak of hostilities, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, complained to the press in Kiev.

On the Western sanctions front, difficult negotiations were underway between the 27 EU member states to reach an agreement this weekend on a plan to stop imports of Russian oil, which Hungary has so far blocked.

Furthermore, Germany has announced that on Sunday the leaders of the great powers of the G7 will hold a virtual meeting dedicated to the war in Ukraine in which Volodymyr Zelensky will have to take part.

It must be said that Africa, for example, is facing an “unprecedented” crisis caused by the current situation in Ukraine, in particular with the soaring prices of food and fuel, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) .

As for China, it is following the conflict “carefully” and will likely learn from it to adjust its plans to take over Taiwan, CIA Director Bill Burns said Saturday.

burx-bds / fjb

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