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France says Putin shows no will to end war in Ukraine as fighting rages

Russian forces fired eight missiles at a Ukrainian military installation near the Polish border on Sunday, officials said, in what appeared to be the most westerly attack of the war, and air raid sirens sounded again woke up the inhabitants of the capital Kiev.

Ukrainian police help residents cross a destroyed bridge as they evacuate Irpin, northwest of Kyiv.
Photo: AFP

“The occupiers launched an airstrike on the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security” in Yavoriv, ​​the Lviv regional military administration said in a statement. “According to preliminary data, they fired eight missiles.”

The administration did not say whether the training center had been hit or give further details.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned Russian forces they will face a fight to the death if they attempt to occupy the capital Kiev, as air raid sirens again awoke residents on Sunday morning.

“If they decide to carpet-bomb and simply erase the history of this region…and destroy us all, then they will enter Kiev. If that is their goal, let them in, but they will have to live on this earth before themselves,” Zelenskiy said on Saturday.

The president, who has repeatedly appeared on social media from the capital, says some small towns no longer exist in the third week of Russian attacks, the biggest attack on a European country since World War II world.

Russian bombardments have trapped thousands of people in besieged cities and sent 2.5 million Ukrainians to flee to neighboring countries.

Ukraine on Saturday accused Russian forces of killing seven civilians in an attack on women and children trying to flee fighting near Kiev. France said Russian President Vladimir Putin had shown no willingness to make peace.

Ukraine’s intelligence service said the seven people, including a child, were killed as they fled the village of Peremoha and “the occupiers forced the remnants of the column to turn back”. Read more

Reuters was unable to immediately verify the report and Russia had no immediate comment.

Moscow denies targeting civilians since invading Ukraine on February 24. He blames Ukraine for failed attempts to evacuate civilians from surrounded towns, a charge Ukraine and its Western allies strongly reject.

Zelenskiy said Moscow was sending new troops after Ukrainian forces knocked out 31 of the Russian battalion’s battle groups in what he called the biggest Russian military casualties in decades. Reuters could not verify his statements.

“We still have to hold on. We still have to fight,” Zelenskiy said in a video address on Saturday night, his second of the day. Claiming that around 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed, he urged the West to get more involved in the peace negotiations.

The United States said it would deploy up to $200 million in additional small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine, where officials pleaded for increased military aid. Read more

The Kremlin describes its actions as a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and overthrow leaders it calls neo-Nazis. Ukraine and its Western allies call it a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has raised fears of a wider conflict in Europe.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine on March 12, 2022.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a press conference in Kyiv saying that 1300 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed so far.
Photo: AFP / 2022 Anadolu Agency

Zelenskiy discussed the war with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, who urged Putin to order an immediate ceasefire.

A statement from the Kremlin during their 75-minute call made no mention of a ceasefire. A French presidency official said: “We have not detected any will on the part of Putin to end the war.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused the United States of escalating tensions and said the situation had been complicated by Western arms convoys to Ukraine that Russian forces viewed as “legitimate targets”.

In comments reported by the Tass news agency, Ryabkov made no specific threats. Any attack on such convoys before they reach Ukraine would risk escalating the war.

Crisis talks between Moscow and Kyiv are continuing via video link, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian news agency RIA. He gave no details, but Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kiev would not surrender or accept any ultimatums.

Humanitarian Corridors

Air raid sirens sounded in most Ukrainian cities on Saturday morning, urging people to seek shelter, local media reported.

Russian rocket fire destroyed a Ukrainian airbase and hit an ammunition depot near the town of Vasylkiv in Kyiv region on Saturday morning, Interfax Ukraine quoted Vasylkiv Mayor Natalia Balasynovych as saying.

The exhausted-looking governor of Chernihiv, about 150 km northeast of Kiev, gave a video update in front of the ruins of the city’s Hotel Ukraine, which he said had been hit.

“There is no such hotel anymore,” said Viacheslav Chaus, wiping tears from his eyes. “But Ukraine itself still exists, and it will prevail.”

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said fighting northwest of the capital was continuing, with the bulk of Russian ground forces 25km from central Kiev, which it said Russia could attack within days.

Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remained surrounded by heavy Russian shelling, he added.

Putin launched the invasion on February 24 in an operation that has been almost universally condemned around the world and has resulted in severe Western sanctions against Russia.

Russian bombardments have trapped thousands of people in besieged cities and sent 2.5 million Ukrainians to flee to neighboring countries. Zelenskiy said the conflict meant some small Ukrainian towns no longer existed.

Firefighters are seen at the site after airstrikes hit civilian settlements as Russian attacks continue against Ukraine in Dnipro, Ukraine, March 11, 2022.

Firefighters in Dnipro after airstrikes on civilian settlements on March 11.
Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Anadolu Agency via AFP

Moscow has denied targeting civilians in what it calls a special operation aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine and overthrowing leaders it calls neo-Nazis. He did not respond to Ukrainian challenges to provide evidence.

Ukrainian officials had planned to use humanitarian corridors from Mariupol as well as towns and villages in Kyiv, Sumy and other regions on Saturday.

Kyiv Region Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said fighting and threats of Russian airstrikes were continuing on Saturday morning although some evacuations were underway.

The governor of the Donetsk region said constant shelling was making it difficult to get aid to the southern city of Mariupol.

“There are reports of looting and violent clashes between civilians over the few basic supplies that remain in the city,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

“Drugs for deadly diseases are running out quickly, hospitals are only partially functioning, and food and water are in short supply.”

A resident examines a destroyed tram depot in Kharkiv on March 12, 2022.

A resident examines a destroyed tram depot in Kharkiv which remains under heavy Russian bombardment.
Photo: AFP

Makeshift burials

People were boiling underground water to drink, using wood to cook food and burying corpses near where they lay, a Médecins Sans Frontières staff member in Mariupol said.

“We saw people who died because of lack of medicine,” he said, adding that many people were also injured or killed. “The neighbors just dig a hole in the ground and put the corpses inside.”

At least 1,582 civilians in Mariupol have been killed as a result of Russian shelling and a 12-day blockade, the city council said on Friday. It was not possible to verify the number of victims.

Moscow has previously blamed Kyiv for the failed evacuations.

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of kidnapping the mayor of the Russian-controlled southern town of Melitopol.

Zelenskiy called for his release on Saturday and more than 2,000 residents demonstrated outside the city administration building to demand the release of the mayor’s release, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office.

Russia has not commented on Fedorov’s fate.

Efforts to isolate Russia economically have intensified, with the United States imposing new sanctions on senior Kremlin officials and Russian oligarchs on Friday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would suspend Moscow’s privileged trade and economic treatment on Saturday, crack down on its use of crypto-assets and ban the import of steel products from Russia, as well as the export of luxury goods. goods the other way.