Russian forces intensified their attacks on the outskirts of Kiev on Saturday on the 17th day of the war, while Siege of Mariupol continuesin the south, and Russians and Ukrainians revealed that they are negotiating in videoconference format after three face-to-face rounds.
On Saturday morning, heavy fighting was reported in northwest Kiev and a military airfield in Vasylkiv, south of the capital, was hit by Russian missiles, while there are reports that Russian forces are 25 km from Kyiv.
Meanwhile, in the port city of Mariupol to the southeast, the Russians have bombed the mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, reported the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on its website. “More than 80 adults and children are hiding there from the shelling, including citizens of Turkey,” added the ministry, which did not provide further information about the attack.
Mariupol, a city of about 500,000 inhabitants in southeastern Ukraine on the shores of the inland Sea of Azov, is a major industrial hub suffering from Russian siege from the beginning of the conflict. Today the Ukrainian authorities managed to open a humanitarian corridor to bring food and medicine.
The city of Mykolaiv, in the southwest, suffered heavy shelling and new artillery and air attacks were also registered in the cities of Nikolaev, Dnipro and Kropyvnytski, in the center of the country.
Russian Army attacks on Friday extended for the first time to towns in the west of the country, close to the borders with the European Union, and this Saturday it was confirmed that the military airfield in Lutsk, near Poland, was completely destroyed.
1,300 military casualties
The Russians they will only manage to enter Kiev “if they destroy us all”Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at a news conference. “This war, this difficult war, has really united our country. You ask me how the situation is on the front… the front line is everywhere,” Zelensky told reporters.
“Some small towns no longer exist. And this is a tragedy, they have disappeared, and the people are gone, forever,” he added.
For the first time since the start of the Russian offensive on February 24, Zelensky gave a figure for Ukrainian military casualties: he reported that 1,300 members of the armed forces have diedwhile assuring that the russians have lost 12,000 soldiers. “Some 1,300 of our soldiers have died, and Russia has lost some 12,000. One to ten. I’m not happy that 12,000 of their own have died,” he said, “because the Russians also have fathers,” and – he said – “the Most Russian soldiers don’t know anything in general, and they went to Ukraine because they were told something about fighting fascism.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense has only offered in these 16 days of war in Ukraine a figure of Russian military casualties of just under 500 soldiers.
Once again, the French president, Emmanuel Macronand the German chancellor, Olaf ScholzThey called for a ceasefire this Saturday. to the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, in a three-way telephone conversation. The Elysée then noted that the Russian president has no intention of “stopping the war”.
In this regard, the Kremlin, in a statement, said that Putin accused the Ukrainian “nationalist” forces of violate international humanitarian law and of numerous abuses such as using human shields, a version that Paris and Berlin branded a “lie”. “The situation in besieged cities like Mariupol are “humanly unsustainablePutin has to end the siege,” French sources explained. And Paris and Berlin called the Kremlin’s version of Ukrainian crimes a “lie.”
Macron and Scholz also spoke with Zelensky, who asked them help to achieve the release of the mayor of Melitopol, near the besieged city of Mariúpol, and which was allegedly captured this Friday by Russian soldiers occupying the town. This Saturday, some 2,000 people, according to Ukrainian television, gathered in front of the Melitopol town hall to protest the capture of the alderman, Ivan Fedorov, shouting “Freedom for the mayor.”
The Kremlin’s statement about the phone call between the leaders revealed that Putin told Macron and Scholz in detail “about the recent conversation series between Russian and Ukrainian representatives that took place in recent days in video format“. It was unknown that the Russians and Ukrainians were currently negotiating by videoconference, after the three face-to-face rounds held in recent weeks.
Both the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, and Mijailo Podolyak confirmed the existence of these contacts. “Negotiations with the Russian delegation are now being held non-stop in video format. They have been created special working subgroupsPodolyak wrote on his Telegram channel.
According to Zelensky, there are some positive signs currently from Russia in the ongoing negotiations. “Now the Russian side, in the negotiations, has begun to talk about things and not just issue ultimatums. I think this is a fundamentally different approach. And it should be like that,” the Ukrainian president said.
Putin has previously declared the Russian conditions for a ceasefire, especially the recognition of the independence of pro-Russian Donbas, that Crimea is Russian and the neutrality of Ukraine.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.