- With its troops paralyzed, Russia focuses on the Donbass
- Ukrainian forces launch a counter-attack
- Authorities estimate 300 people were killed in the Mariupol theater blast
- China’s Synobek stops debate on Russian investment
Pucha / LVV, Ukraine, March 25 (Reuters) – Moscow on Friday signaled that it would reduce its ambitions in Ukraine to focus on territory claimed by Russian-backed separatists in the east, as Ukrainian forces continue to retake cities outside the capital. Kiev
In a statement that appeared to indicate more defined goals, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the first phase of its operation was largely complete and would now focus on the eastern Donbass region, which has pro-Russian separatist areas. read more
“The combat capability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been significantly reduced, which makes it possible to focus our main efforts on achieving the liberation of Donbass, the main target,” said Sergei Rutskoy, chief of staff of the Russian Civil Service. Directorate of Operations.
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Military analysts say reconsideration of Russia’s targets will facilitate the victory that will save President Vladimir Putin’s face. Moscow has said its goal is to militarize Ukraine. Western officials deny that this is an unsubstantiated excuse for war, which they say aims to overthrow the Ukrainian government.
Faced with fierce opposition, Russian troops were unable to capture any major city within a month of occupying Ukraine. Instead, they bombed cities, dumped garbage in urban areas and evicted a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes.
More than 3.7 million of them have fled abroad, half to neighboring Poland, where US President Joe Biden met with troops strengthening the eastern part of the NATO alliance of the US Army’s 82nd air division. read more
Referring to the besieged southeastern port, Biden said, “Hundreds of thousands of people are being cut off from aid by Russian forces and are being besieged in places like Mariupol.”
“It’s something like a science fiction movie.”
Battlefields near Kiev have been paralyzed for weeks, with two main Russian armored columns to the northwest and east of the capital. The British intelligence report describes the Ukrainian counter-attack that pushed the Russians back in the east.
“Ukrainian counter-attacks, and the retreat of Russian forces on exaggerated supply lines, have allowed Ukraine to recapture cities and defenses 35 km east of Kiev,” the report said. The United States and Britain have provided arms to Ukraine.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed and 3,825 wounded, according to the Interfax news agency. Ukraine says 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed.
Volodymyr Borysenko, mayor of Boryspol, an eastern suburb where Kyiv’s main airport is located, said 20,000 civilians had evacuated the area and responded to calls for evacuation in the face of Ukrainian troops’ counter-attack.
Ukrainian forces had recaptured a nearby village the previous day and would have stopped even if it had been pushed to avoid endangering civilians, Borichenko said.
At another important point outside Kiev, northwest of the capital, Ukrainian forces are trying to encircle Russian troops in the suburbs of Irbin, Pucha and Hostomல்l.
In Pucha, 25 km (15 miles) northwest of Kiev, a small group of Ukrainian troops armed with anti-tank missiles were digging fox holes. A Ukrainian soldier, who identified himself only as Andrea, told Reuters he had been listed as soon as the invasion began.
“I told my wife to grab the kids and hide in the basement. I went to the draft station and went straight to my section,” he said.
The Ukrainian Air Force says Russian ship missiles hit several buildings as it attempted to attack an air force command in the Vinnitsia region west of Kiev.
The United Nations says 1,081 civilian deaths and 1,707 injuries have been confirmed in Ukraine since the February 24 occupation, and the actual number could be higher.
Mariupol, where 400,000 people lived before the war, was badly affected by the Russian bombing. Tens of thousands of people are still believed to be stranded with little access to food, energy or heat.
Local authorities, citing witnesses’ accounts, estimated that 300 people had been killed in a bomb blast at a theater in Mariupol on March 16. The city council had previously not provided a fee and clarified that the exact number could not be determined. Incident. Russia has denied that the theater was bombed. read more
Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region of Ukraine, said Ukrainian forces were still in control of Mariupol. About 65,000 people fled but attempts to organize mass evacuations under the ceasefire often failed. read more
The cities of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumi in the east also bore the brunt of the devastating bombings. Its governor said Chernihiv was effectively surrounded by Russian forces.
The peace talks that have been going on for weeks have not made significant progress. In a video speech late on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky said that his troops’ opposition to Russia had dealt with “powerful blows”.
“Our defenders are leading the Russian leadership to a simple and logical idea: we must speak, meaningfully, urgently and fairly,” Zhelensky said.
Western sanctions have isolated Russia from world trade. President Vladimir Putin compared the actions of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and accused the West of trying to “abolish” Russian culture, including composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rashmaninov. read more
China is the largest power that has not condemned Russia’s invasion.
But as the first major indication that Western sanctions on Moscow are affecting Chinese investment, the Sinopec group, which runs the state-run Sinopec group, Asia’s largest oil refinery, has stopped investing in petrochemicals and Russian gas. read more
“Companies will strictly adhere to Beijing’s foreign policy in this crisis,” said a Chinese state oil company executive. “There is no room for companies to make any effort based on the new investment.”
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Mariupol, Natalia Ginetz and Maria Starkova Lviv and a Reuters reporter at the Reuters bureau; Written by Peter Groff, Nick McPhee and Rami Job; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Andrew Cawthorn, Francis Kerry and Cynthia Osterman
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