After Russian forces retreated from the damaged environs of Kyiv to regroup and strengthen their onslaught throughout the Donbas area, officials encouraged residents to escape before time ran out, Ukraine readied for a final fight for control of the embattled country’s industrial east.
More than 5,000 citizens have been murdered in Mariupol, the mayor of the southern port city stated on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials acquired proof of Russian crimes in locations north of the city, amid suspicions that Moscow’s soldiers slaughtered civilians indiscriminately before fleeing during the last several days.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned in his evening speech that the Russian military is preparing for a fresh onslaught in the east, where the Kremlin has stated that its objective is to “liberate” the Donbas, Ukraine’s primarily Russian-speaking industrial heartland. Ukraine, he warned, was also prepared for combat.
He stated, “We will fight and we will not withdraw.” “Until Russia decides to sincerely want peace, we will pursue all available alternatives to defend ourselves.” This is our territory. This is where we will be in the future. And we’re not going to give them up.”
Residents of the Donbas have been encouraged to leave immediately by Ukrainian officials.
“People will be attacked later,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, “and we won’t be able to help them.”
Russia has finished withdrawing all of its estimated 24,000 or more troops from the Kyiv and Chernihiv districts in the north, sending them into Belarus or Russia to replenish and reorganize, likely to return to fight in the east, according to a US defense official speaking on condition of anonymity.
However, a Western source, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence assessments, said it may take up to a month for Russia’s battle-damaged forces to reassemble in preparation for a big offensive in eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the United States and its Western allies have pushed to impose further sanctions on Russia for what they call war crimes.
210 children were among the more than 5,000 residents murdered amid weeks of Russian shelling and street fighting, according to Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko. According to him, Russian soldiers destroyed hospitals, one of which burnt to death 50 people.
According to Boichenko, more than 90% of the city’s infrastructure was destroyed. Food, water, gasoline, and medication have been cut off, and houses and businesses have been crushed, as a result of the strikes on the vital city on the Sea of Azov.
According to British military experts, 160,000 people were still trapped in the city, which had a population of 430,000 before the war. A humanitarian supply convoy led by the Red Cross has been attempting to enter the city for days without success.
Capturing Mariupol would provide Russia a continuous land route to the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
In the north, Ukrainian police stated at least 410 citizens’ remains had been discovered in cities near Kyiv, victims of a Russian campaign of murder, rape, mutilation, and torture, according to Zelenskyy. Some of the victims appeared to have been shot at close range. Some were discovered with their hands tied behind their backs.
Zelenskyy accused Russia of interfering with an international inquiry into alleged war crimes by removing bodies and attempting to hide other evidence near Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, in his presentation Wednesday night.
“We have evidence that Russian soldiers have changed tactics and are attempting to remove the dead people, the dead Ukrainians, from the streets and cellars of captured area,” he added. “This is nothing more than an attempt to conceal evidence.”
Instead of being “equated with the Nazis for the rest of your life,” Zelenskyy, who switched from Ukrainian to Russian, advised regular Russians to “somehow face the Russian repressive machine.”
“If you feel even a little shame about what the Russian military is doing in Ukraine,” he said, Russians should urge an end to the conflict.
The US issued sanctions against Putin’s two adult daughters and claimed it is toughening penalties against Russian banks in response to the alleged crimes outside Kyiv. Britain has barred foreign investment in Russia and has committed to ending its reliance on Russian coal and oil by the end of this year.
The US Senate is set to debate legislation on Thursday that would cease regular commercial relations with Russia and formalize President Joe Biden’s executive order prohibiting Russian oil imports. Biden would be able to impose additional duties on select Russian goods as a result of the trade ban.
Additional severe measures, including a coal ban, are likely from the European Union.
The Kremlin has claimed that its forces did not conduct any war crimes and that the photographs coming out of Bucha were produced by the Ukrainians.
In Bucha, there were still more bodies to be collected. Two were seen by the Associated Press in a residence in a quiet area. The faint boom of workmen cleaning the town of mines and other explosive ordnance might be heard from time to time.
More than 60 remains were loaded into a supermarket shipment truck by workers at a cemetery for transfer to a facility for further examination.
At least 20 bodies were discovered in the Makariv district west of Kyiv, according to police. Residents in the hamlet of Andriivka said that Russians arrived in early March and seized their phones. Some persons were imprisoned for a short time before being released. Others perished under unexplained circumstances. Some people claimed to have taken refuge in vegetable-storage cellars for weeks.
“We were afraid at first, and now we’re laughing,” said Valentyna Klymenko, 64. She stated she, her husband, and two neighbors survived the siege by sleeping on a mattress and blankets on top of potato stacks. “At first, we didn’t weep. We’re both sobbing now.”
Rescue personnel scoured the wreckage of apartment towers in the town of Borodyanka to the north of the hamlet for corpses.
After being thwarted in their attempts to capture the capital quickly, Putin’s forces, as well as mercenaries, have been reported marching towards the Donbas.
Since 2014, Ukrainian military have been battling rebels supported by Russia in the Donbas. Moscow declared the Luhansk and Donetsk areas as autonomous entities before its assault on February 24.
The US and the UK boycotted a U.N. Security Council informal meeting called by Russia on Wednesday to pursue its bogus accusations that the US has biological weapons facilities in Ukraine. The conference was the latest in a series of Russian initiatives that have prompted Western governments to accuse Moscow of using the United Nations as a platform for misinformation in order to deflect attention away from the war.
The charges made by Russia have already been refuted. Ukraine does own and manage a network of biological facilities that have received US money and research assistance and are open to the public. The laboratories are part of a program aimed at reducing the risk of devastating epidemics, whether natural or man-made.
The United States’ efforts extend back to the 1990s, when it was working to destroy the former Soviet Union’s weapons of mass destruction program.