mariupol: Russia retreats in northern Ukraine as Red Cross heads for Mariupol

Ukraine on Saturday said Russian forces were making a “rapid retreat” from northern areas around the capital Kyiv and the city of Chernigiv as Red Cross prepare for a fresh evacuation attempt from the besieged southern port of Mariupol.
Russian forces are now concentrating their attacks on the east and south, a day after thousands of people from Mariupol and surrounding Russian-administered areas escaped in a private convoy of buses and cars.
Russia is prioritizing a different tactic: back east and south,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said on social media.
He said that, while Russian forces appeared to be retreating from Kyiv and Chernigiv, their aim was “to control a large part of the occupied territory and establish there forcefully”.
“Without heavy weapons, we wouldn’t be able to drive (Russia),” he said.
chairperson Vladimir Putin On February 24, Ukraine sent Russian tanks into its pro-Western neighbor and Ukraine is estimated to have killed 20,000 people so far in the war.
More than 10 million people have had to leave their homes.
Pope Francis spoke of the “frozen winds of war” once again sweeping through Europe as he brought up conflict at the beginning of his trip to Malta on Saturday.
“Again, some powerful people, sadly caught up in outdated claims in the interests of nationalism, are inciting and fueling conflict,” the pope said.
A visit to Ukraine’s capital is still on the table, he added.
In Kyiv, authorities confirmed that the body of a famous photographer, Maks Levin, was found near a village in the area around the capital that had been caught up in the fighting.
Prosecutors said in a statement on Telegram: “According to preliminary information, unarmed Maxim Levin was killed by servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces with two rounds of firearms.” .
Levin, a 40-year-old father, was reported missing on March 13 and the body was found near Guta Mezhygirksa on April 1, officials said.
The NGO Reporters Without Borders said six journalists have been killed so far in the conflict, adding: “Targeting journalists is a war crime.”
The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine.
Former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said in an interview published Saturday that the ICC should order Putin’s arrest.
“Putin is a war criminal,” Del Ponte, who is known for investigating war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, told Le Temps daily.
Even as Russia consolidates its power in the southern and eastern regions of the country, Mariupol remains an important holding point for Ukraine.
According to local officials, the city has come under weeks of Russian shelling, with at least 5,000 residents killed.
An estimated 160,000 people still face shortages of food, water and electricity.
“We have rescued 6,266 people, including 3,071 from Mariupol,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech earlier on Saturday.
According to an AFP reporter at the scene, dozens of buses carrying Mariupol residents who had left the city earlier had reached Zaporizhzhia, 200 kilometers (120 miles) to the northwest.
Buses carrying people who were able to flee from Mariupol to Russian-occupied Berdiansk.
“We cried when we got to this area. We cried when we saw soldiers at the checkpoint with Ukraine badges in their hands,” said Olena, who holds her young daughter in her arms.
“My house was destroyed. I saw it in the pictures. Our city no longer exists.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said its team had arrived in Mariupol to attempt an evacuation but was forced to back off on Friday after “agreements and conditions made it impossible to proceed”. “.
The ICRC said its team left on Saturday for Mariupol to make another attempt.
Peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow resumed via video on Friday, but the Kremlin warned that what it described as a helicopter attack on a fuel depot inside Russia would get in the way negotiations.
The airstrike hit the fuel storage facility of energy giant Rosneft in Belgorod, 40 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
Kyiv will not be intrigued about whether it was behind the attack.
Zelensky meanwhile repeated his pleas for more military support from the West.
“Just give us the rocket. Give us the plane,” he told Fox. “Can’t you just give us the F-18 or the F-19 or whatever you have? Give us the old Soviet planes. That’s it… Give me something to protect defend my country.”
The Pentagon later said it was allocating $300 million in “security assistance” to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities, adding to the $1.6 billion Washington has pledged since Russia invaded. at the end of February.
Civilians fled the devastated areas after arduous and daring escapes.
Three-year-old Karolina Tkachenko and her family walked for an hour through a field strewn with burned Russian armored vehicles to flee their village on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Karina Tkachenko, Karolina’s mother, said: “The stores are closed, there are no goods.
In Mariupol, Viktoria Dubovytskaya, who took refuge in the theater where 300 people are believed to have been killed in Russian bombardment, said she only grasped the extent of the devastation when she fled.
She told AFP.
“When people find their loved ones, they just bury them wherever they can. Sometimes roses used to bloom,” she said.

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