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Russia continues its offensive in eastern Ukraine |  world and science

Russia continues its offensive in eastern Ukraine | world and science

Russian army in the streets of MariupolOlga Maltseva/AFP

Posted on 05/21/2022 19:04

Russia continued its offensive in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, 21, and said it had bombed a Western arms shipment in the northwest, in a war that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said was still witnessing “bloody” episodes and could only be resolved through diplomatic channels.

In any case, Ukraine will have the means to resist after US President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on $40 billion in aid to the former Soviet republic, which was invaded by Russian forces on February 24.

“We are looking forward to this important new assistance. It is needed now more than ever,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter.

The aid from the United States is adding to that of the European Union and the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations, the group of major industrialized nations on the planet, which on Friday pledged $19.8 billion to keep the country’s public finances alive.

But military aid faces the challenge of directing it to the front lines.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that it had destroyed a “large shipment of weapons and military equipment provided by the United States and European countries near the Malin railway station”, 100 kilometers northwest of Kyiv.

In an interview with a Ukrainian television channel, Zelensky added that the war “will be bloody, there will be fighting, but it will certainly end through diplomacy.”

“Discussions between Ukraine and Russia will certainly take place. I don’t know in what form: with mediators, without them, in a wider circle, or at the presidential level,” he added.

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So far, several meetings have been held between negotiators from both sides, without tangible results.

Church bombing

In the eastern region of the Donbas River, a mining region partly controlled since 2014 by Kremlin-backed separatists, several cities have been under Russian bombardment for weeks.

In Donetsk, which makes up this mining basin alongside Lugansk, the bombings hit a church where civilian refugees, including children and clergy, were staying, according to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry. At least 60 people were rescued and the death toll remains unknown.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Friday that his forces are “on the verge of completing” the liberation of Lugansk.

On the same day, Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin of “the end of the operation and the complete liberation of the complex. [Azovstal] and the city of Mariupol.

Since Monday, a total of 2,439 fighters who were resisting in perilous conditions in the labyrinth of tunnels of this steel plant surrendered, according to the ministry spokesperson.

The conquest of Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of ‚Äč‚ÄčAzov, devastated by months of bombing, is crucial to creating a land corridor between Donbass and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

The Ukrainian authorities, who ordered their soldiers to lay down their weapons “to save their lives”, trusted the exchange of prisoners with Russian soldiers.

Russian MP and negotiator Leonid Slutsky said that Russia will study the possibility of exchanging the captured Azov battalion fighters in the steel plant for Ukrainian businessman Viktor Medvedchuk, who is close to Putin.

Zelensky promised that the fighters would “go home.”

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Cutting gas to Finland

Russia has published a list of 963 American personalities who are banned from entering the country in retaliation for similar sanctions taken by Washington.

The list includes Biden, his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and even Meta Chairman (Facebook’s parent company) Mark Zuckerberg.

Russia has also cut gas supplies to Finland for refusing to make payments in rubles, as Moscow has demanded since April.

Previously, it had already taken similar actions against Poland and Bulgaria, in initiatives that the European Union denounced as “blackmail”.

The announcement comes two days after Finland and Sweden, two countries with a history of military non-alignment, applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), amid regional concerns raised by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey, a member of the transatlantic military alliance, is currently opposed to such accession, considering Finland and Sweden sanctuaries for militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization considered terrorist by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called on Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersen to “end political and financial support” to terrorist groups.