War in Ukraine: Three EU heads of government travel to kyiv as Russian bombing intensifies | International

Russian attacks on residential areas in kyiv have intensified this Tuesday with at least three powerful explosions and images showing firefighters in the capital in an unequal fight against huge tongues of fire caused by projectiles in two civilian neighborhoods, services have reported. country emergency. The city is almost completely surrounded by Kremlin forces. However, this Tuesday, the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, his Deputy Prime Minister, Jarosław Gowin; The Czech Prime Minister, Petr Fiala, and his Slovenian counterpart, Janez Janša, will travel to the Ukrainian capital to meet with President Volodímir Zelenski, as announced by the head of the Czech Government on his social networks. Russia and Ukraine plan to resume, also during this day, the last round of peace negotiations that began on Monday.

The website of the Polish Prime Minister’s Cabinet has confirmed that the three heads of government are traveling to kyiv on behalf of the European Union. The visit “has been organized after consulting the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen,” says the official site. The objective of this trip, the Polish Executive specifies, is “to confirm the unequivocal support of the entire European Union for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, and to present a broad package of support for Ukraine and the Ukrainians”.

Along with the political gesture of support that this visit represents in the midst of a war that is now in its twentieth day, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, later welcomed the “rapid adoption” of a fourth package of sanctions against Russia, which “will further cripple Putin’s ability to finance this unjustified war.” Von der Leyen has stressed that “the EU and its partners will maintain pressure on the Kremlin until it stops the invasion of Ukraine.”

Ukraine and Russia plan to resume the round of videoconference talks temporarily suspended on Monday during this day. The chief adviser to the President of Ukraine, Oleksii Arestovich, has published a video, quoted by the Reuters agency, in which he draws a scenario for the end of hostilities “in early May”, this Zelensky collaborator predicted, at the time that “Russia will run out of (human) resources to sustain the invasion.” “I think that by the beginning of May at the latest, we should have a peace agreement, perhaps much sooner, we’ll see, I’m talking about the latest possible dates,” Arestovich said.

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The adviser who is considered Zelensky’s right-hand man also alluded to another scenario, in his opinion “completely crazy”, which could involve Russia “sending new recruits [a Ucrania] after a month of training”, he added.

The bombings in kyiv continue

In the hours before the announcement of the trip by the three European prime ministers, the fighting had intensified around kyiv, which is almost completely surrounded by Russian forces. At least two people have died this Tuesday in the Ukrainian capital after Russian troops attacked residential areas. The Ukrainian emergency service has indicated that a block of flats in the Podilsk district, northwest of kyiv, received heavy artillery fire this morning. “A fire started on the first five floors of the ten-storey residential building on Mostytska Street as a result of heavy artillery fire,” this service has indicated on its social networks. The flames were extinguished and one person was hospitalized. The emergency service has also reported a two-story house hit by an attack in the Osokorky district (southeast), which caused no casualties.

A woman observes this Tuesday what remains of her house practically reduced to ashes by the fire caused by a bombing in kyiv.
A woman observes this Tuesday what remains of her house practically reduced to ashes by the fire caused by a bombing in kyiv. FADEL SENNA (AFP)

Although the attacks against residential neighborhoods do not stop, the progress of the Kremlin troops continues without breaking the Ukrainian resistance. Russian forces have also carried out several limited attacks northwest of kyiv, unsuccessfully attempting to bridge the Irpin River, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). The Russian military maintains control of the area to the north and northwest of that town, about 25 kilometers from kyiv. According to the Security and Defense consultant Rochan Consulting, the Russians are concentrating in that area, without launching offensive operations in the eastern area of ​​the capital, a strategy that the consultant attributes to the possibility that they lack sufficient forces to resume the offensive on that flank.

In the south of the country, the Russians resumed their offensive from Kherson towards Mijolaiv on Monday, but Ukrainian forces have held them back, according to the ISW. Russia could be organizing a “referendum” in Kherson, a city in the south of the country with some 300,000 inhabitants, to justify the proclamation of a “separatist republic”, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense has warned in its latest report. This is the same method that Moscow already used in 2014, with the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, and later in the Donbas region, where two “people’s republics” were proclaimed, Donetsk and Luhansk. The Kremlin recognized these two separatist entities as independent states on February 21, in a decision that served as a prelude to the start of the war, three days later.

Kherson is a strategic point at the mouth of the Dnipro River in the Black Sea. Russian troops, always according to data from the British espionage report, dispersed peaceful citizen protests against the Russian occupation on Monday with shots. The civil resistance in this city has not been the only one. Demonstrations have also been reported in the Russian-occupied cities of Melitopol (south) and Berdyansk (southeast) in recent days.

A brutal ally of Putin

While Russian troops are unable to take the capital at the moment, the leader of the Chechen Republic, Razman Kadyrov, has claimed to be in Ukraine in a video posted on Telegram. The man who is considered one of the most brutal allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin claims to be in Gostomel, an airport near kyiv, which was seized by the Russians in the first days of the invasion. In the images, the Chechen president appears dressed in military uniform supervising maps and plans around a table with several soldiers. “The other day we were about 20 kilometers from you, the Nazis of kyiv, and now we are even closer,” he wrote in a message on the messaging application, in which he takes up Putin’s rhetoric that the Russian offensive pursues ” denazify” Ukraine.

The supreme head of the Chechen Republic in turn calls on the Ukrainian forces to surrender “or they will be finished.” “We will show them that Russian practice teaches war better than foreign theory and the recommendations of military advisers,” he added.

The ominous threat from this former rebel comes as Ukraine announced again on Tuesday that it will try again to open nine humanitarian corridors to evacuate trapped civilians. One of the places where the human situation was already “apocalyptic” last week, according to the Red Cross, is the port city of Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov. For 11 days, 200,000 of its almost half a million inhabitants have subsisted without running water, electricity and hardly any food. On Monday, for the first time since the Russian troops began the siege of the city, a caravan of about 160 private cars managed to leave the town in the direction of Zaporizhia.

kyiv denounced that Russian troops again vetoed the passage of humanitarian aid to Mariupol on Monday. This Tuesday, Ukraine will try to get these survival supplies to the inhabitants of the city, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk has reported. Around 150,000 people have already left through humanitarian corridors from besieged cities in Ukraine, a very small number compared to the total of 2.9 million civilians from that country who have already fled the country.

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