Apparently Kyiv has been surrounded, many Ukrainian cities have been destroyed, and Putin is still unreasonable

Dusseldorf If the situation weren’t so bleak, one might find this apparently regularly recurring ritual bizarre: phone calls to Putin. Russia’s President and warlord Vladimir Putin now appears to be calling one or the other head of government with a certain regularity.

The conversations all have one thing in common: They seem incredibly tough and long and they bring almost nothing of everything that can be understood from the outside. Except that the Western public also gets a very vivid impression of the increasingly strange worldview of the Kremlin gentlemen. Like this Saturday.

Then Putin phoned the Franco-German duo of the President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Olaf Scholz. That also took 75 minutes. Quite a long time since, according to the information from the Elysée Palace and the Chancellery, Putin had little new to say. He kept doing the Ukraine responsible for the conflict, was determined to continue the war.

Scholz and Macron also asked about the mayor of Melitopol, who was missing from the Ukrainian authorities. The Ukrainian government fears he may have been kidnapped by Russian soldiers. Putin has promised to inquire about the matter.

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The Kremlin, on the other hand, announced that Putin used the phone call to point out crimes committed by the Ukrainians. Ukrainian units would execute dissenters, take hostages and use civilians as shields. “Nationalist” troops would systematically prevent evacuation attempts and intimidate civilians trying to flee.

The Kremlin did not provide any evidence of this. And believing in it is difficult given the pictures that will come out of the Ukraine again on Saturday. The humanitarian situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate rapidly, according to a senior official at the National Defense Control Center. In some cities, this has taken on catastrophic proportions, the Ria agency quotes a spokesman as saying.

The Mariupol drama

In the Ukrainian Mariupol, which has been under siege for days, some residents are loud Doctors Without Borders died due to lack of medication. An employee of the aid organization described in a voice message that he had witnessed such deaths. There are a lot of such cases in Mariupol. The voice message was shared with the AP news agency on Saturday.

There are also many people who have been killed or injured in the fighting and who are lying on the ground, the employee reported. Neighbors dug a hole and buried the bodies there.

Doctors Without Borders informed that Mariupol had to do without drinking water or medicines for more than a week. People manage by using water from the ground. Others tapped into heating pipes and then boiled it over wood fires.

Food is also scarce in Mariupol, MSF staff said. The lack of cell phone and internet connections also means that only residents with access to portable radios can access information about what is happening outside their immediate vicinity.

On Saturday, pro-Russian separatists, supported by Russian troops, advanced into the eastern outskirts of the city, Ukrainian forces said. Previously, the Russian Department of Defense the capture of several districts reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Wereschuk said that a convoy with aid supplies and evacuation buses had left the city. It was initially unclear whether the fifth attempt at an escape corridor would succeed. Both sides blamed each other for the aid not arriving.

Ukrainian villages and towns under constant fire

In other towns and villages in Ukraine, people came under increased fire from the Russian army on Saturday. Heavy fighting was reported from the south in particular, but also in the east and from around the capital Kyiv. The Russian Department of Defense spoke of attacks on a “broad front” on the 17th day of the war.

>> Read about this: All current developments in the news blog

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported that the attackers suffered heavy casualties and the “biggest blow to the Russian army in decades”. In the meantime, 12,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. He gave the losses in his own ranks since the beginning of the war as around 1,300 soldiers. The figures cannot be independently verified.

From the south, the governor of the Mykolayiv region, Vitaly Kim, wrote: “The occupiers shelled hospitals and boarding schools at night with indiscriminate, chaotic fire.” The attackers changed their tactics and hid in villages between civilian buildings. Mykolaiv is located at the mouth of the Southern Bug into the Black Sea. Should Russian troops capture or bypass the city, they would be able to travel overland to Odessa.

According to Ukrainian sources, about half of the embattled small town of Izyum on the border with the Donetsk region in the east of the beleaguered country is already under Russian control. The attacking troops had entrenched themselves in the northern part of the city. Independent confirmation of this was not possible.

According to Kiev sources, Russian troops tried to launch an offensive around the captured city of Volnowakha in the Donbass. There was also heavy fighting around the village of Rubishne in the Luhansk region. According to Russian information, the attackers also took numerous towns in eastern Ukraine.

Russians are stuck in front of Kyiv

According to Ukrainian military information, Russian troops are also trying to blockade the north-east Ukrainian city of Chernihiv from the south-west. Selenskyj said the city with almost 280,000 inhabitants was without water supply.

Ukrainians barricade Odessa

Deputy Prime Minister Wereshchuk spoke of planned refugee corridors for several places north-west of Kyiv such as Hostomel, Makariv and Borodyanka. The Russian army has been established there for days and is still trying to block the capital from the west. Efforts to evacuate residents also continued in north-eastern Ukraine.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, an air force base in Wassylkiv and the intelligence center of the Ukrainian armed forces in Brovary were destroyed near Kyiv.

The Russian army meanwhile reported that they destroyed 79 military installations on Saturday. Among them were four command and control centers of the Ukrainian armed forces, said Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, according to the Interfax news agency. Attacks were also flown on six ammunition and fuel depots. A Ukrainian Mi-24 attack helicopter and three drones were also shot down. This information could not be verified.

According to the spokesman, a total of 3,593 Ukrainian military facilities have been destroyed since the war began more than two weeks ago. Russia claims to attack only military targets and not civilian objects.

The United Nations, on the other hand, says they have information about the illegal use of cluster munitions by Russian troops in the Ukraine war – including in populated areas. According to the UN, it is also aware of 26 attacks on health facilities in Ukraine, in which twelve people died.

More on the Ukraine war:

According to Moscow, the pro-Russian separatists in the Luhansk region have reached the city of Sieverodonetsk, which has a population of 100,000. The Russian forces continued their advance in the area on a “broad front” and advanced another twelve kilometers. In doing so, they gained control of several villages. This information was also not independently verifiable.
According to the Foreign Minister, Germany is working Annalena Bärbock together with international partners on a kind of airlift for Ukrainian refugees from Moldova. The aim is to relieve the country and to distribute those who arrive to other countries, said the Green politician after a meeting with her colleague Nicu Popescu in the capital Chisinau.

Ukrainian woman fleeing at the Polish border

Europe is preparing for more people seeking protection.

(Photo: AP)

At the same time, Baerbock announced that the federal government would bring 2,500 Ukrainian refugees from Moldova directly to Germany as a first step. She did this with the Minister of the Interior Nancy Faser (SPD) agreed. Faeser announced that the admission of the refugees from Moldova would be organized and implemented “quickly and unbureaucratically” in the next few days.

>> Read about this: The energy industry fears a gas supply stop

Special trains will be deployed in Poland this weekend to bring refugees from Ukraine to Germany. Polish Deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szefernaker spoke on Saturday of nine special trains each to Germany, in addition to the eight regular trains that run daily between Poland and Germany.
Regardless of Putin’s phone call with Macron and Scholz, various Moscow government officials sharpened their tone towards the West on Saturday. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that Moscow could target Western supplies of military equipment to Ukraine. “The pumping of arms from a number of countries that it (the US) is orchestrating is not only a dangerous move, but an action that makes these convoys legitimate targets,” he said.

Selenski sees positive signs

He further condemned the US sanctions as an “unprecedented attempt to deal a serious blow to various sectors of the Russian economy”, but Moscow will act in moderation so as not to harm itself. But the western states seem unimpressed so far: On Saturday evening US President Biden announced that he would support Ukraine with a further 200 million dollars. And the Elysee in Paris said a new sanctions package that would put Russia on a cusp with North Korea was imminent.

So there is enough to talk about for further telephone calls with Putin. The Ukrainian president would probably not make the phone call, but speak to Putin instead. He is ready to negotiate with the Russian head of state in Israel. However, a cease-fire is a prerequisite, said Selenski on Saturday. He told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that he was ready to meet the Kremlin chief in Jerusalem. It would be desirable for Zelensky that these talks might be as tough as those between Putin and Western heads of state, but perhaps a little more result-oriented.

What gives hope: According to Selenski, Ukrainian government officials are currently “constantly” talking to Russian negotiators via video call. A solution is still not foreseeable, said Selenski in a press conference on Saturday. But: “The talks are gaining substance.” At first, the representatives of Moscow had only “issued ultimatums”. In the meantime, they had “started to talk”. He was “glad” to have “received a signal from Russia”.

More: The EU is laying the groundwork for a defense union – but the path to get there is rocky

With agency material

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