After A Series Of Setbacks, Russian Forces Have Regrouped Near Kyiv

According to satellite images, Russian forces advancing on Kyiv are regrouping northwest of the Ukrainian capital, and Britain indicated on Friday that Moscow could be launching an assault on the city within days. Ukraine has accused Russian soldiers of attacking a psychiatric facility near the eastern Ukrainian town of Izyum, describing the attack as a “brutal attack on citizens” by the regional governor. No one was wounded, according to emergency services, because the patients were already sheltering in the basement.  Moscow remained silent for the time being.

Russia has been bombing Ukraine’s cities while its main strike force north of Kyiv has been stuck on roads since the invasion began, having failed in an initial plan for a rapid assault on the city, according to Western governments. Armored formations maneuvring in and through communities close to an airport at Hostomel on Kyiv’s northwest suburbs, site of severe action since Russia landed paratroopers there in the initial hours of the war, according to images supplied by private US satellite firm Maxar. Other units had moved near Lubyanka, a tiny village to the north, with towed artillery howitzers in fire positions, according to Maxar.

“Russia is likely seeking to reset and re-posture its forces for renewed offensive activity in the coming days,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update. “This will probably include operations against the capital Kyiv.”

According to the British report, Russian ground forces are still making relatively limited progress, handicapped by ongoing logistical problems and Ukrainian resistance. Russia’s forces, according to Ukraine, are regrouping after suffering massive losses. The Ukrainian general staff said in an evening bulletin on the battlefield situation that it had pushed Russian forces back to “unfavourable positions” in the Polyskiy district, which is close the Belarus border and behind the main Russian column marching towards Kyiv.

330 people were in the psychiatric facility when it was attacked, according to Oleh Synegubov, the governor of the Kharkiv area. “This is a war crime against civilians, genocide against the Ukrainian nation,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app. The claimed strike happened less than two days after Russia struck a maternity hospital in Mariupol, a besieged southern port that Washington has condemned as a war crime. Pregnant ladies were among those injured, according to Ukraine; Russia claims the hospital was no longer operational and was taken by Ukrainian fighters when it was struck.

For the sixth day in a row, Russia declared a cease-fire to allow civilians to flee Mariupol, the epicentre of Ukraine’s worst humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people stuck without food, water, heat, or electricity. Ukraine announced that it would attempt to evacuate the city once more: “We hope it will succeed today,” stated Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. All prior attempts to reach Mariupol have failed, with both sides blaming the other for violating ceasefires.

Russia’s targeting of civilians in Mariupol, according to Washington, is a war crime. Moscow disputes that civilians have been targeted as part of a “special operation” to disarm and “de-Nazify” Ukraine, which it claims is going according to plan. Leaders of the European Union met in France’s Versailles Palace for a meeting that was expected to be dominated by requests for stronger action to punish Russia, support Ukraine, and deal with a refugee surge of roughly 2.5 million people in only two weeks.

In the two weeks after the invasion, Western countries have moved quickly to cut Russia off from global trade and the global financial system in ways that have never been seen before by such a huge economy. According to reports, US President Joe Biden would seek the Group of Seven industrialised countries and the European Union to deprive Russia of regular trade privileges, often known as “most favoured nation status,” in the latest move. This would allow further tariffs on Russian goods to be imposed.

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At least one person was killed in three air strikes in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Friday, according to state emergency services, which added that the strikes occurred near a kindergarten and an apartment complex. Russia’s push on Kyiv has stopped, and it has yet to conquer any cities in northern or eastern Ukraine, but it has made significant progress in the south. On Friday, Moscow announced that its separatist supporters in the southeast had taken control of Volnovakha, a town north of Mariupol.

The United States Senate approved legislation on Thursday that will provide $13.6 billion to help Ukraine fund ammunition and other military supplies, as well as humanitarian aid. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of oil and gas combined. So far, its energy exports have been mostly spared from sanctions, while Washington has stated that it will no longer buy Russian crude. The EU is also working on longer-term plans to phase out Russian oil, gas, and coal imports, but Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban indicated in a Facebook video on Friday that the bloc would not penalise Russian energy.

The information war shifted to social media, with Russia asking that Washington end Facebook owner Meta Platforms’ (FB.O) “extremist activity,” which temporarily relaxed a prohibition on demands for violence against Russia’s military and leadership. According to internal e-mails to its content moderators, the social media corporation will temporarily allow some posts calling for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in nations such as Russia, Ukraine, and Poland.

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