War in Ukraine, day 73 | Evacuations of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the Russian offensive intensifies

(Zaporijjia) Women, children and the elderly were all evacuated on Saturday from the Azovstal steel mill, the last resistance zone in the devastated city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian authorities fear the Russian offensive may resume with renewed vigor ahead of Moscow’s victory celebrations on Nazi Germany on May 9.

Posted at 7:57 AM
Updated at 3:13 PM

Joshua MELVIN with Dmitry ZAKS in Kramatorsk
Media agency France

Russian head of state Vladimir Putin, who thinks he can’t “afford to lose” in Ukraine, is “confident that redoubled efforts will allow him to make progress,” the CIA director, the top American, assured the same day. intelligence agency, Bill Burns.

However, there is no “concrete evidence” that Russia, which placed its deterrent forces on high alert shortly after beginning its military intervention, “is preparing the deployment or even possible use of tactical nuclear weapons in this conflict, he stressed. .


PHOTOGRAPH ALEXEI ALEXANDROV, ASSOCIATED PRESS

On Friday, 50 people were evacuated from the massive Azovstal steel factory, the last resistance area of ​​Ukrainian troops in Mariupol.

“The order of the President (Volodymyr Zelensky) has been carried out: all women, children and old people have been evacuated from Azovstal. This part of the humanitarian mission in Mariupol has been completed,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced.

On Friday, 50 people, again the most vulnerable citizens, were able to leave the enormous steel complex.

These operations, which have been taking place for a week under the auspices of the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), have displaced nearly 500 people, according to Kiev.

Bombardment from south to northeast

However, Ukraine’s defense ministry said on Saturday that “the enemy has not stopped its offensive”, notably still defending the Azovstal district.

The staff of the Ukrainian army assured that Russian troops had attacked this factory again the day before, despite the ceasefire they had unilaterally declared for three days on Thursday.


PHOTOGRAPH JORGE SILVA, REUTERS

A rocket shot a hole in a residential area of ​​Bakhmout, Donetsk region.

Mariupol, a southeastern port city that had a population of nearly 500,000 before the war, was almost completely wiped off the map by two months of Russian bombardment.

In the southwest, airports in the Artsyz regions, near Romania, Odessa, the major Ukrainian port on the Black Sea and Voznessensk, north of Mykolaiv, were targeted, the Russian defense ministry announced on Saturday evening.

In the northeast, Iskander’s mobile ballistic missile systems destroyed “large amounts of weapons and military equipment supplied by the United States and other Western countries” at Krasnograd and Karlovka stations, not far from Kharkov, he continued.

Strikes were also reported on Saturday around Donetsk (east), killing four people and injuring nine, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.

The Russians have made limited gains in the past 24 hours around Severodonetsk, one of the main sites in Ukrainian-owned Donbass, but this should not lead to a full-scale encirclement, noted the American Institute of study of war (ISW). .

sunken boats

Conversely, in Kharkov, the Ukrainian counter-offensive to put Ukraine’s second city out of range of enemy artillery won, capturing several Russian positions, still according to the ISW.


PHOTOGRAPH YURI KADOBNOV, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MiG-29SMT fighter jets flew over Moscow’s Red Square during a rehearsal for the May 9 parade.

“Ukrainian forces are regaining ground along a wide arc around Kharkov and are no longer concentrating on limited thrust, demonstrating their ability to launch offensive operations on a larger scale than has been the case in this war,” it said.

So much so that the Russian army had to blow up three road bridges “to slow down the counter-offensive in this region,” according to Ukraine’s defense ministry.


PLANET LABS PBC IMAGE VIA AP

This satellite image shows the damage to the Azovstal factory.

The Ukrainian navy, meanwhile, has claimed to have destroyed a Russian landing ship 100 kilometers from Odessa, not far from the tiny Serpents’ Island, using a combat drone developed in Turkey.

Information that Russia has not confirmed, claiming it “scuttled the Ukrainian assault boat ‘Stanislav'”.

More broadly, the British Ministry of Defense estimated in a report that the conflict “wrought damage to the most combat-ready Russian units”.

Intensification of strikes?

As May 9 approaches, Ukrainian authorities expect the Russian attacks to intensify.

“Please do not ignore the air raid sirens and immediately go to shelters, the risk of bombing is very likely in all regions of Ukraine,” Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko said on Friday, adding that there would be no commemoration of the 1945 victory. in the Ukrainian capital.

“The enemy is trying to finish the defenders of Azovstal, he is trying to do this before May 9 to give Vladimir Putin a gift,” warned Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Zelensky.

Russia has so far only been able to claim full control of one major city, Kherson.

On Saturday, the Russian army in Moscow conducted final rehearsals in Red Square for the traditional military parade on May 9 in the presence of soldiers who took part in the offensive in Ukraine.

On the fringes of this war, authorities in Moldova’s pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria, Moldova, announced on Saturday that four explosions had taken place the night before in a village bordering Ukraine, with no deaths.

Fears that the conflict in Ukraine could spill over into Transnistria has increased in recent weeks after a Russian general revealed that one of Russia’s goals was to create a corridor to the small area.

China is following the conflict “carefully”

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, on Saturday denounced “staggering” violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Russian army in Ukraine after a four-day visit to Kiev and its region.

There have been a total of “200 attacks on health facilities” in this country since the outbreak of hostilities, for his part, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus complained to the press in Kiev.

On the Western sanctions front, tough negotiations were underway between the 27 EU member states to reach an agreement this weekend on a plan to halt Russian oil imports, which Hungary has so far blocked.

In addition, Germany announced that the leaders of the G7 major powers would hold a virtual meeting devoted to the war in Ukraine on Sunday, in which Volodymyr Zelensky is to participate.

It must be said that, for example, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Africa is facing an “unprecedented” crisis caused by the current situation in Ukraine, in particular by rising food and fuel prices.

As for China, it is monitoring the conflict “closely” and is likely to learn from adjusting its plans to take Taiwan, CIA Director Bill Burns said on Saturday.

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