During a meandering speech from Moscow on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Ukraine’s statehood is in peril, as a promised cease-fire in the besieged port city of Mariupol failed amid scenes of terror. The struggle to impose the temporary cease-fire in Mariupol and Volnovakha, Ukraine’s eastern metropolis, revealed the frailty of efforts to end the conflict across the country, as the number of people fleeing the country surpassed 1.4 million just ten days after Russian soldiers entered.
Russian artillery fire and airstrikes, according to Ukrainian officials, stopped civilians from fleeing before the agreed-upon evacuations began. Putin accused Ukraine of obstructing the endeavor, claiming that the country’s leadership’s actions called the country’s future as an independent state into question.b “If this happens, it will be entirely on their conscience,” Putin said.
Earlier this week, Russia’s military ministry announced that it had reached an agreement with Ukraine on evacuation routes between the two cities. Before the declaration, Russia’s days-long bombardment had wreaked havoc in Mariupol, where AP journalists watched physicians unable to save the lives of wounded children, pharmacies running dry, and hundreds of thousands of residents facing food and water shortages in the bitter cold.
When the bombardment began Saturday, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said thousands of civilians gathered for safe passage out of the city, according to comments broadcast on Ukrainian television. “We value the life of every inhabitant of Mariupol and we cannot risk it, so we stopped the evacuation,” he said.
Ukraine has recently pushed Moscow to provide humanitarian corridors to allow children, women, and the elderly to evacuate the fighting, referring to them as “issue No. 1.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested that discussions with Russia could lead to a long-term if restricted, truce on Saturday. Ukrainian forces were holding important cities in central and southern Ukraine, while Russian forces were attempting to encircle Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy, he claimed.
On Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia was ready for the third round of discussions on that and other topics, but he also stated that Russia would not participate. “the Ukrainian side, the most interesting side here, it would seem, is constantly making up various pretexts to delay the beginning of another meeting.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken came in Poland to meet with the prime minister and foreign minister, a day after attending a NATO conference in Brussels where the alliance committed to increasing support for eastern flank countries. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow. Bennett has offered to act as a mediator in the situation because Israel has good relations with both Russia and Ukraine. The agenda for Saturday’s meeting has yet to be released.
Following the imposition of Western sanctions, Russia’s flagship state-owned airline, Aeroflot, has declared that all international flights will be halted. save for Belarus, which will begin on Tuesday. According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 351 people have been confirmed killed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, but the total figure is likely significantly higher.
According to Zelenskyy, 10,000 Russian forces were killed in the fight, a statistic that could not be independently substantiated. “We’re imposing losses on the occupiers that they couldn’t see in their worst nightmare,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stated. The Russian military, which does not provide regular updates on losses, announced on Wednesday that 498 of its soldiers had died. Despite the fact that Ukraine’s military might is considerably inferior to Russia’s, it’s military and volunteer forces have fought back with ferocity since the invasion. There were traces of resistance even in cities that had succumbed to the Russians.
According to a video provided by the Ukrainian government on Saturday, onlookers in Chernihiv rejoiced as they watched a Russian military plane fall from the sky and crash. Hundreds of people protested the invasion in Kherson, yelling “Go home!” Outside Kyiv, a massive Russian armored column threatening Ukraine’s capital remained blocked. The military situation in Ukraine remained calmer on Saturday, according to Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich, who added that Russian forces “had not taken aggressive activities since the morning.”
While Russia’s bombardment of Mariupol demonstrated its intention to block Ukraine off from the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, further harming the country’s economy, it was Putin who went on the offensive, warning that a no-fly zone would be regarded as a hostile act. NATO has stated that it has no plans to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would prevent all unauthorized aircraft from flying over the country. One of the key reasons, according to Western diplomats, is a desire to keep the conflict from spreading outside Ukraine.
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Zelenskyy has appealed for a no-fly zone above his country and slammed NATO for refusing to impose one, threatening that if one is not imposed, war will erupt. “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you.”
However, as the US and other NATO members dispatch weaponry to Kyiv, the crisis is already engulfing countries well beyond Ukraine’s borders. As Russia pushes down on independent media reporting on the conflict, more prominent international news organizations have announced that they are suspending operations in the country. Nothing, according to Putin, justifies the imposition of martial law at this time.
Moreover, the United Nations World Food Program has warned that millions of people inside Ukraine, a major worldwide wheat producer, will require food aid “immediately.” The president of Ukraine was scheduled to update US senators via video conference on Saturday as Congress examines a request for $10 billion in emergency funds for humanitarian and security needs.
On Monday, the United Nations Security Council will hold an open meeting to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian situation. According to the United Nations, 12 million people in Ukraine and 4 million people migrating to neighboring countries would require humanitarian assistance in the coming months. People wanting to flee flocked to Kyiv’s major train station. “People just want to survive,” said Ksenia, one of the women. Two pedestrians on a sidewalk in the capital paused in their tracks when they heard a loud crash, indicating that nerves are frayed. It was a garbage truck that tipped over a bin.