War in Ukraine: what to remember on the 116th day of the Russian invasion
On Saturday, Volodymyr Zelensky, who had remained barricaded for weeks in kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, at the start of the conflict when the capital was threatened by the Russian army, went according to the presidency to the troops in the regions of Mykolaiv and Odessa, in the coastal strip of the country coveted by Moscow at the edge of the Black Sea. Ukraine’s president thanked the soldiers, who are containing the Russian troop thrust, supported in the east from annexed Crimea, for their “heroic service”. “It is important that you are alive. As long as you are alive, there is a strong Ukrainian wall protecting our country,” he told them.
The main information:
- Volodymyr Zelensky visited southern Ukraine
- War could last for years, warns NATO chief
- Ukraine has lost half of its armaments, says Ukrainian Army logistics chief
Zelensky in southern Ukraine
A video, released by the presidency, showed Volodymyr Zelensky in Mykolaiv with the local governor, Vitaliy Kim, in front of the gaping facade of the headquarters of the regional administration, hit by a Russian strike in March which left 37 dead. This port and industrial city of almost half a million inhabitants before the war is still under Ukrainian control, but it is close to the Kherson region, almost entirely occupied by the Russians. A Russian strike killed two people and injured 20 on Friday.
It remains a target of Moscow because it is on the road to Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port, 130 km to the south-west near Moldova, also still under Ukrainian control and at the center of discussions on the blocked export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain. Russia explains that the waters are mined, and controls this area of the Black Sea despite the firing of Ukrainian missiles against its ships.
The war could last for years, warns NATO
The war in Ukraine could last “for years”, warned the Secretary General of NATO in an interview published on Sunday by the German daily Bild, urging Western countries to register their support for kyiv over time. “We have to be prepared for this to last for years”, said Jens Stoltenberg, “we must not waver in supporting Ukraine, even if the costs are high, not only in terms of military support but also because of rising energy and food prices”.
These costs are nothing compared to that paid daily by the Ukrainians at the front, judged the head of the Atlantic Alliance. In addition, if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to achieve his goals in Ukraine, as in the annexation of Crimea in 2014, “then we would have to pay an even greater price”, judged Jens Stoltenberg. In this context, he urged the countries of the alliance to continue their arms deliveries to kyiv.
“With additional modern weapons, the likelihood of Ukraine being able to repel (Vladimir) Putin’s troops from Donbass would increase,” he said. This region of eastern Ukraine is now partly under the control of Russian soldiers.
Russia threatens the world with famine, accuse Westerners
Westerners accuse the Russian authorities of threatening the world with famine and of exploiting cereals as they do with hydrocarbons. ““Russia has turned the Black Sea into a war zone, blocking grain and fertilizer shipments from Ukraine” while applying “quotas” to its own exports, European diplomacy chief Josep Borrell denounced on Saturday. , accusing Moscow of “blackmail”.
“It is imperative to allow the resumption of Ukrainian exports by boat”, to avoid a “world food disaster”, he added.
Fighting rages in Severodonetsk
Further north, fierce fighting is raging near Severodonetsk, in the Donbass region, partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014 and including Russia, after failing to take kyiv in the first weeks of its offensive launched on February 24, has set itself the goal of taking full control.
“An expression says: you have to prepare for the worst and the best will come by itself”, said Saturday in an interview with AFP Serguiï Gaïdaï, governor of the Lugansk region, which notably houses the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. . “Of course we have to prepare,” added the man who repeatedly warned that the Russians would end up surrounding Lyssytchansk by cutting off its main supply routes.
Difficult situation in Lysychansk
“The situation is difficult, in the city (of Lysytchansk) and in the whole region”, he underlined, because the Russians “are bombarding our positions 24 hours a day”. Residents of Lysytchansk were preparing to be evacuated: “We are abandoning everything and leaving. No one can survive such a strike,” said resident Alla Bor, a history teacher.
Earlier in the day, Serguiï Gaïdaï had announced “more destruction” still at the besieged Azot chemical factory in Severodonetsk, where more than 500 civilians, including 38 children, are hiding.
Five dead in Donetsk
Pro-Russian authorities in Donetsk, capital of the self-proclaimed “republic” of the same name in the part of Donbass that has escaped kyiv’s control since 2014, for their part claimed that Ukrainian bombardments on the city had left five dead and 12 injured among the civilian population.
“Massive enemy bombardments are targeting the capital of the Republic,” the separatist military forces said in a statement, saying that more than 200 155-caliber artillery shells – that of NATO – had fallen on several districts of Donetsk.
Ukraine fears a new offensive from Belarus
It is finally in the north, from Belarus from where the Russian forces had attacked on February 24 in the direction of kyiv, that the Ukrainians again fear an offensive. On Wednesday, Volodymyr Zelensky ordered to check the defense lines in this area, according to Oleksiï Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council.
The Ukrainian army, which this week obtained the promise of new heavy Western weapons – including Caesar cannons promised Thursday by French President Emmanuel Macron – is counting on these weapons to push back the Russians.
Ukraine has lost half of its weapons
In an interview published this week by the National Defense Magazinea specialized American publication, General Volodymyr Karpenko, head of logistics for the Ukrainian army, admitted that Ukraine had lost “about 50%” of its armaments since February 24.
On Saturday, the day after a surprise visit to kyiv, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Ukraine’s allies to support it firmly and for a long time if they do not want to see “aggression” triumph in Europe. Countries that support Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion must ensure that kyiv has “the strategic stamina to survive and ultimately prevail,” he wrote in an op-ed published by the Sunday Times, stressing that ” time is a crucial factor today.
No negotiations before August
Only after repelling Russian forces will Ukraine be ready to engage in new negotiations with Moscow, David Arakhamia, the head of the Ukrainian delegation, told the Ukrainian branch of the American radio Voice of America. . “A minimal agreement (for negotiations, editor’s note) would be if we pushed them back or if they left voluntarily to the positions they occupied before February 24” and the start of the offensive, he said. -he says.
In kyiv, hundreds of people attended on Saturday the funeral of Roman Ratouchny, 24, killed in action in the East and who was a figure of the pro-European Maidan movement, which had led to the fall of the pro-Russian president. Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, after he had renounced, under pressure from Moscow, the signing of an association agreement with the EU.