War in Ukraine: what to remember from Friday, May 20

The Azovstal steelworks, the last stronghold defended by Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, came under Russian control on May 20, while in the Donbass, further north, Moscow’s artillery pounded kyiv’s positions. Franceinfo summarizes the important information of this day.

The Azovstal steelworks in the hands of Russian troops

The Azovstal steelworks, the last stronghold defended by Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, is now in the hands of Russian troops. In the early evening, the spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the steel complex had been “fully liberated”after the surrender of the last Ukrainian soldiers, and that the news had been passed on to President Vladimir Putin.

>> War in Ukraine: the siege of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol summarized in eight photos

Earlier in the day, the on-site leader of the men of the Azov regiment, Denys Prokopenko, with a large bandage on his right arm and a swollen left, had indicated in a video that “the higher military command gave the order to save the lives of the soldiers of our garrison and to stop defending the city”.

After the evacuation of civilians and then hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers taken prisoner by the Russians, “the process continues” to evacuate the bodies of the soldiers killed, added the commander of this elite regiment founded by Ukrainian nationalists. Ukraine wants to organize an exchange of prisoners of war but Russia has made it known, implicitly targeting the Azov regiment, that it considers some of them to be combatants “neo-Nazis”.

Intense fighting on the eastern front line

After failing to take kyiv and Kharkiv, the second Ukrainian city, Russia is concentrating its military efforts in the East and the South. Moscow seeks in particular to completely conquer the Donbass, partially controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists.

“The Russian occupation forces are conducting intense fire along the entire front line”Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motouzianyk said, adding that the situation “showed signs of worsening”.

In Lozova, a town in the east, “a Russian missile hit the house of culture which had just been rebuilt: seven victims, including an eleven-year-old child” were injured, Volodymyr Zelensky said on Telegram.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for his part assured that the conquest of the Lugansk region, which with that of Donetsk constitutes the Donbass, was “almost complete”.

Italy proposes a diplomatic initiative

While the negotiations conducted a few weeks ago under Turkish mediation are at a standstill, Italy indicated on Friday that it had proposed the constitution of a “international facilitation group composed of international organizations” such as the UN, the EU and the OSCE.

“The objective is to work step by step (…) starting, for example, with localized truces, the evacuation of civilians, the possibility of opening secure humanitarian corridors, and then of course building up to reach a general ceasefire, then a lasting peace with a real peace agreement”Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio explained in Turin.

The G7 pledges $20 billion in aid

At the same time, the G7 countries meeting in Germany promised to mobilize 19.8 billion dollars (18.7 billion euros) to help Ukraine “to make up for its financial deficit”.

But Germany said it was opposed on Friday to a new common European debt, on the model of the post-Covid recovery plan.

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