► In Mariupol, the evacuation of Ukrainians from Azovstal continues
The operation of“evacuation” of the last Ukrainian soldiers entrenched in Azovstal, in the strategic city of Mariupol, continues on Wednesday, the 84th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to kyiv. Ukraine assured last week that more than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers, including 600 wounded, were there. Moscow announced on Tuesday the surrender of 265 Ukrainian fighters, including 51 “seriously injured”.
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“These Ukrainian heroes” who have “fulfilled their mission” will be exchanged for Russian prisoners to allow them to return home ” as quickly as possible “, said the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. The evacuation operation, which Volodymyr Zelensky discussed with French President Emmanuel Macron on the phone on Tuesday, “is supervised by our military and our intelligence services” and involves “the most influential international mediators”he added.
► Eight dead in a bombardment north of kyiv
On the ground of military operations, eight people died and 12 were injured in a Russian bombardment on Desna, a village located about sixty kilometers north of kyiv known to house a large military training camp, according to the local relief. Another attack on Tuesday morning hit a Ukrainian military base in the Lviv region (west) located just 15 kilometers from the border with Poland, according to Maxim Kozitsky, the governor of the Lviv region.
According to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov, who spoke on Tuesday before European Union defense ministers and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “the main efforts of the Kremlin are focused on attempts to encircle and destroy the consolidation of Ukrainian armed forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” (east), partially in the hands of pro-Russian separatists.
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On Tuesday, seven civilians were killed “by the Russians” and six others injured in the Donetsk region, its governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Telegram. In the Lugansk region, Russian forces are trying to break through near Popasna and in the direction of Severodonetsk, one of the major cities in the region under Ukrainian control, said its governor Serguiï Gaïdaï, reporting on “the intensification of the bombardments on the civilian population”.
To support this offensive, the Russian army notably mobilized “up to fifteen helicopters”noted the Ukrainian General Staff on Wednesday, adding that, near Zaporizhia, “the enemy strengthens” his troops “to conduct an offensive in the direction of Polohy – Orikhiv”.
► Opening of the first war crime trial
Nearly three months after the start of the Russian invasion, on February 24, a Russian soldier, accused of having killed an unarmed civilian, appeared before Ukrainian justice on Wednesday for a war crime, a first since the outbreak of the conflict. This trial will be a test for the Ukrainian judicial system, as international institutions conduct their own investigations into the abuses committed by Russian troops in this country.
In The Hague, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, announced the deployment to Ukraine of a team of 42 investigators and experts, the largest mission in terms of personnel ever sent on the ground, in order to light on the crimes committed during the Russian invasion. And the United States announced on Tuesday the creation of a “Conflict Observatory”initially endowed with six million dollars, to “to collect, analyze and widely share evidence of war crimes” that they blame on Russia in Ukraine.
► Zelensky at the Cannes Film Festival
Sweden and Finland jointly submit their NATO candidacies on Wednesday, after decades of military non-alignment. The membership applications of the two Nordic countries will be submitted at the headquarters of the alliance in Brussels to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday at 08:00 (06:00 GMT) by the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors.
The Finnish Parliament on Tuesday opened the way to this candidacy with a massive vote, in the wake of the official announcement the day before by Sweden of its own. The main obstacle seems to come from within the alliance: Turkey, whose ratification is imperative like that of each of the 30 members of NATO, reaffirmed on Monday its hostility to the entry of Sweden and Finland .
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov also called on Ukraine’s Western allies for more coordination in arms deliveries to kyiv. France to step up arms deliveries to Ukraine “in the days and weeks to come”promised President Emmanuel Macron to his counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
The latter spoke in a video message during the opening gala of the Cannes Film Festival to say that“we need a new Chaplin who will prove that cinema is not silent” facing the war in Ukraine. “I am convinced that the dictator will lose”he added, alluding to the Russian president and the Charlie Chaplin film.