After Russian deputy minister of Defence, Alexander Fomin had announced on Tuesday “a radical reduction of military action” in Kyiv and Chernihiv zones, the West leaders said they doubt that.
When asked about his response to claims by Russia’s military that they will scale back operations near Kyiv, US President Joe Biden told reporters “let’s just see what they have to offer,” and emphasizing U.S. support of allies.
In its turn, the Pentagon officials said that the announced withdrawal is just a repositioning of troops for the time being. “The Russians have said they are withdrawing forces from around Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, and so far, reports show that some — but not many — Russian forces have indeed moved away from the area. But where those troops are going and why is likely less about signaling a willingness to end a bloody and illegal war, and more about repositioning of forces elsewhere to focus on alternative and potentially more successful military objectives,” says a press release by the US Department of Defense.
Asked if there has been some movement by some Russian units away from Kyiv in the last day or so, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said that there had been some movements, but in “small numbers”. “But we believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine,” he added.
Russia’s withdrawal announcement has been met with skepticism in Europe as well, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that Vladimir Putin could still seek to ‘twist the knife’ as the war enters a new phase. Johnson added that Britain wants to see a full withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine and will judge tentative steps towards a possible peace deal by actions rather than words.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Russia of attacking Ukraine “from a very imperialist point of view” on the world and that Russia’s goal was to capture territories through war. “We cannot and will not accept this,” Scholz told reporters at a meeting in Dusseldorf hosted by the North Rhine-Westphalia parliamentary group.
Fights around Kyiv, bombings go on in other cities
Meanwhile, bombings continued in many cities. According to The Kyiv Independent, several explosions were heard in Kyiv on Wednesday morning. However, the deputy mayor of the Ukrainian capital, Mykola Povoroznyk, says there were still fighting around Kiev, but the capital was not bombed by Russian forces. “The night passed relatively calm, with the sound of sirens and the sound of artillery from the battles around the city, but there were no bombings in the capital,” Povoroznyk told national television, according to Reuters.
Air raid sirens sounded in several parts of the country, as well, including Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Poltava.
European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that an office of the European Union Counseling Mission in Ukraine (EUAM) had been bombed by Russian forces. “The EU Counseling Mission in Ukraine (EUAM) obtained credible information that the Mariupol office was recently hit by Russian bombing. EUAM’s office and equipment were severely damaged. No members or contractors of the Mission were injured,” Josep Borrell said in a statement.
A neighborhood in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysisheansk was bombed by Russian heavy artillery this morning. It is a town in the Lugansk region, in the part controlled by the Kyiv government. The regional governor says there is great damage. The images made public show the consequences of a shell blow that destroyed a large part of a block. There is no information about the victims so far. Rescuers intervene on the spot.
12 people died and another 33 injured in Nikolaev, after Russian missiles have got through the middle of the region’s administrative building.
The Ukrainian armed forces have said that Russian troops continue to “commit illegal acts” against the local population of Zaporizhia in southeastern Ukraine and Kherson in the south, BBC reports. At the same time, Ukrainian forces said that Russia continues to send troops to Ukraine and that the Russians continue to search the homes of locals, detain pro-Ukrainian activists and government officials.
The scale of Mariupol destructions
On the other hand, a new attempt to evacuate the survivors from Mariupol has failed on Tuesday, on the day when the fourth round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine took place in Istanbul.
The situation in Mariupol, under siege by Russian troops, is disastrous. More than 160,000 people are stranded there and have no food, water or medicine. They live in underground shelters, without heat or electricity. The mayor says at least 5,000 people have been killed in the attacks. Less than a quartet of the Mariupol residents have remained in the city following the Russian invasion.
Recent satellite photos depict the scale of the destruction in Mariupol, with entire buildings and blocks of flats being put down by missiles.
18 million Ukrainians to need humanitarian aid, 145 children killed so far
The Kyiv Independent reports that, according to data sent by the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office, at least 145 children had been killed in the war and other 222 had been injured.
About 18 million people in Ukraine will need humanitarian aid because of the war, said the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Francesco Rocca explained that since the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian Red Cross has helped 400,000 people with items such as food, bedding, blankets, tents and water. He told reporters at a UN briefing in Geneva that “no one in Ukraine is unaffected by the ongoing conflict.” During the same briefing, the representative of the World Health Organization in Ukraine, Dr. Jarno Habicht, stated that there were 74 attacks on the health system, in which 72 people were killed.
The nuclear facilities danger issue
At the same time, Ukraine has asked Russia’s withdrawal from the Chernobyl zone, with the armed forces claiming that the ammunition of the Russian troops occupying the nuclear power plant could explode, Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereșciuk was quoted as saying by Reuters on Wednesday. “We call on the UN Security Council to take immediate action to demilitarize the Chernobyl exclusion zone and to introduce a special UN mission there to eliminate the risk of a repeat nuclear disaster,” she said.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is in Ukraine for urgent talks with the Ukrainian government on the safety of nuclear facilities in the country, writes CNN.
Zelensky to address the Australian Parliament
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the Australian Parliament on Thursday evening via a video link at 17:30 (09.30 Romanian time).
Australia has provided defense equipment and humanitarian goods to Ukraine, as well as a ban on exports of alumina and aluminum ores to Russia. Overall, it imposed 476 sanctions on 443 people, including businessmen close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and 33 entities, including most of Russia’s banking sector and all entities responsible for the country’s sovereign debt.
UN: Russia accused of causing a “global food crisis”
Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Sergei Kishliya, defiant statement against Moscow in the Security Council: “For a start, I would like to inform you that the demilitarization of Russia by the Ukrainian army and supported by the entire Ukrainian people is in full swing.”
Russia has been accused by the UN Security Council of causing a “global food crisis” and risking “famine” by launching a war against Ukraine, the “granary of Europe”. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has started this war. He has created this global food crisis. And he is the one who can stop it,” U.S. Foreign Minister Wendy Sherman said during a Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation. from Ukraine.
According to the Deputy Secretary of State, “Russia and President Putin are solely responsible for starting the war against Ukraine and for the consequences of this war on world food security.”
France’s ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, said: “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine increases the risk of famine worldwide. People in developing countries are the first to be affected.” And, the French diplomat said, “Russia will certainly try to make us believe that the sanctions adopted against it are the ones that unbalance global food security.”
On the other hand, the Chinese ambassador to the UN, Dai Bing said that increasing sanctions against Russia would “give rise to new humanitarian problems”, including affecting global energy, food, economic, trade and financial markets.
Russian, Chinese FMs meet in China, agree on extending cooperation
As a matter of fact, Russia and China have agreed to extend co-operation at a meeting of foreign ministers in China on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry was quoted as saying by Moscow in the wake of what Moscow described as “difficult international conditions.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui on Wednesday, CGTN reported.
According to Interfax, the cooperation includes strengthening foreign policy coordination and speaking with one voice on global affairs.