War in Ukraine, day 48: Allies check on Russia’s using chemical weapons in Mariupol


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On the 48th day of the war in Ukraine, a new Russian offensive is expected in the east, while the United States and Britain are reporting information that chemical weapons have been used by Russian forces in attacks on Mariupol.

The British Defense Ministry said on Tuesday announced that fighting in eastern Ukraine will intensify over the next two to three weeks.

Russian attacks remain focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Lugansk, with ongoing fighting around Kherson and Mikolaiv and a new offensive on Kramatorsk, according to British military intelligence. Also, according to the bulletin, Russian forces continue to withdraw from Belarus to regroup in support of operations in eastern Ukraine.

Great Britain is also trying to verify information on the possible use of chemical weapons by Russian forces in Mariupol, a city besieged for more than a month, the British Foreign Minister announced, according to Le Figaro.

“Information indicates that Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on the people of Mariupol. We are working urgently with our partners to verify the details,” Liz Truss said on her Twitter account. “Any use of such weapons would be a brutal escalation in this conflict, and we will hold Putin and his regime accountable,” she added.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also said that the United States is aware of the information circulating on social networks about the possible use of chemical weapons in Mariupol. “We cannot confirm at this time and we will continue to monitor the situation closely. This information, if true, is deeply worrying,” he said.

Ukrainian parliamentarian Ivanna Klimpuş posted on Twitter on Monday night that an unknown substance had been used in Mariupol and that the victims had symptoms of respiratory failure. “Most likely chemical weapons,” she added.

The Ukrainian Azov Regiment announced that a Russian drone had released a toxic substance on soldiers and civilians in Mariupol. Several people reported having respiratory and neurological problems as a result of the attack.

Mariupol mayor told an interview to Associated Press that over 10,000 civilians had died in the city since the beginning of the invasion. Boychenko said the death toll in Mariupol could even exceed 20,000.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukraine does not have the necessary weapons to liberate the besieged port city of Mariupol, which is close to being conquered by Russian forces. “If we get enough planes and heavy armored vehicles, the necessary artillery, we could do it,” the Ukrainian president said in a new video. “I am sure we will get almost everything we need. But not only is time wasted, but lives of Ukrainians are also being lost. Lives that are never coming back,” Zelenski said.

“It is also the responsibility of those who still keep the weapons that Ukraine needs in their factories. A responsibility that will always go down in history,” he added.

The leader of the separatist region of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, claimed on Monday that the port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, where heavy fighting is taking place, has fallen into the hands of the Russians.

More than 5,800 war crimes committed by Russians in Ukraine are being investigated

Ukraine’s attorney general says he is investigating 5,800 war crimes committed by Russian forces. In an interview with CNN, Irina Venediktova said that she has identified 500 suspects so far in the extended investigation: military personnel, but also Russian politicians and propaganda agents. She added that more and more procedures are being added every day.

At Bucha, the site of one of the massacres, the community is still removing the bodies from the mass grave. Moscow has denied any wrongdoing and claims that the atrocities were organized by the Ukrainians to denigrate Russian troops. However, witnesses and photo and video evidence, including from satellite, show that Russian soldiers fired on the civilian population.

Moreover, new horrors committed by Russian soldiers in Bucha, the small town near Kyiv, are coming to light. Nine girls and women who were held for 25 days in the basement of a house where they were raped are now pregnant.


Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden announced they are providing € 2.5 million to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to help investigate its possible war crimes in Ukraine

European foreign ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, met with ICC prosecutor Karim Khan in the morning, who opened an investigation on March 3, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The EU had also announced last week it allotted EUR 7.5 million to train the Ukrainian prosecutors to investigate the potential war crimes.

186 children killed, over 340 injured, almost 5 million are refugees

186 Ukrainian children have been killed since the start of the war, according to the latest report by the General Prosecutor, quoted by Nexta, with other 344 being injured.

According to the UN reports, almost 5 million have been evacuated from Ukraine. According to UN estimates, since the outbreak of war on February 24 by Russia, 4.8 million children have been displaced out of a total of 7.5 million Ukrainian children.The director of the UNICEF emergency program, Manuel Fontaine, described the deployment of such a large number in such a short period of time as “incredible”, stating that he had never seen anything like it in his 31 years of humanitarian work. “I’ve heard stories about desperate gestures by parents who want to take their children to a safe place, about children who are sad because they can’t go back to school,” he said.


Dead soldiers and prisoners, lost military vehicles

While the Ukrainian Army says that Russia has lost in the war 19,600 soldiers, about 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians were taken prisoner by Russian troops, according to Kyiv Independent. Of those, 500 are women, said Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Irina Vereshchuk.

Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes in the six weeks since Russia’s invasion, UNICEF has been quoted as saying by the BBC.

Russia has also lost hundreds of tanks and thousands of armored vehicles since the invasion of Ukraine began. Military experts attribute this to the advanced weapons delivered by the West to Ukraine, on the one hand, and to the logistical problems and incompetence of Russian forces, on the other hand, the BBC reports. Ukraine’s armed forces say Russia has lost more than 680 tanks.

On the other hand, Oryx, a military blog that accounts for Russia’s military losses in Ukraine based on photos sent from conflict zones, says Russia has lost more than 460 tanks and more than 2,000 other armored vehicles. According to available data, Russia had about 2,700 tanks at the beginning of the conflict.

According to figures from the Oryx blog, half of the tanks lost by Russia were not destroyed or damaged by the enemy, but were captured or abandoned.

Russian weapons depot destroyed in Novoaidar, Lugansk

Ukrainian officials say they destroyed a Russian weapons depot in Novoaidar, Lugansk region. CNN has geolocated a video and images shared on social media that seem to show the consequences of that attack. On Monday, Sergei Haidai, the head of the Lugansk Regional Military Administration, posted on Facebook that Ukrainian forces had destroyed a Russian ammunition depot near a Russian settlement in Lugansk.

In a video shared by the Russian state agency RIA Novosti, Lugansk People’s Republic militia official Roman Ivanov said that Ukrainian strikes on Novoaidar destroyed “more than 20 houses, along with a warehouse full of chemical fertilizers.” . Haidai denied Russian claims that the Ukrainians were targeting residential buildings.

Russia reportedly gets ammunition from Iraq

Russia receives ammunition and military equipment from Iraq for its Ukrainian troops through Iranian arms smuggling networks, according to members of the Iraqi militia and regional intelligence services, writes The Guardian.

On the other hand, in the Mikolaiv area, Russians disguised as evacuated locals who claimed to be lost, attacked the Ukrainian army, according to local media. The occupants of 3 civilian cars allegedly approached the Ukrainian positions and tried to attack them, but were repulsed, losing 5 people.

Sanctions against Russia go on

Europol European Police Office announced on Monday that it had launched an operation targeting the assets of Russian people and companies sanctioned by the war in Ukraine.

At the same time, Japan joined other Western states in imposing new sanctions on Russia on Tuesday, freezing the assets of 398 Russian citizens, including the daughter of President Vladimir Putin and the wife of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The measures were approved by the Tokyo government, as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Friday. He also said that Japan will reduce its coal imports from Russia and plans to stop them in the future, the dpa reported. Putin’s daughters are also on the list of sanctions imposed by the EU, the US and the UK.

Authorities in Italy have announced that they have seized a villa worth more than 100 million euros belonging to 23-year-old Russian pilot Nikita Mazepin. Along with his father, Dimitri Mazepin, he is on the EU-sanctioned list of Russian oligarchs and was recently fired by his Formula One team.

Nokia withdraws from Russia

Telecommunications equipment maker Nokia is withdrawing from the Russian market, its CEO told Reuters. The decision will affect about 2,000 workers. While several sectors, including telecommunications, have been exempted from some humanitarian or related sanctions, Nokia has said it has decided that giving up Russia is the only option.

“We simply do not see any possibility of continuing in the country in the current circumstances,” said Pekka Lundmark, CEO, in an interview. He added that Nokia will continue to support customers during the exit process and it is not possible to say at this stage how long the withdrawal will take.

OPEC: EU cannot replace the Russian oil. Italy signs deal to boost natural gas imports from Algeria

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) told the European Union on Monday that the current and possible future sanctions against Russia risk creating one of the strongest oil supply shocks ever and that replacing Russian oil with other sources would be impossible, while signaling that the countries of this organization will not increase their oil extraction.

“Following current and future sanctions or other voluntary measures, we could see the loss of more than 7 million barrels a day of Russian oil and other fuel exports,” OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo warned in a statement. “Given the current demand forecast, it would be almost impossible to replace a volume loss of this magnitude,” he added.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced on Monday an initial agreement to increase energy imports from Algeria, following a meeting with the country’s president Abdelmadjid Tebboune in Algiers.

“Immediately after the invasion of Ukraine, we announced that Italy would act quickly to reduce the need for Russian gas. Today’s agreement is an important response to this strategic goal,” he added. In addition, Draghi said an agreement had been signed between Italian energy company Eni and Algeria’s national state energy company to implement natural gas exports to Italy. Italy imports about 40% of its total gas consumption from Russia.

Several religious leaders go to Ukraine

An international delegation of religious leaders representing more faiths will visit Ukraine on Tuesday in solidarity with those affected by Russia’s war.The delegation consists of monks, rabbis, Muslim clerics, Buddhists, Hindus and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, according to the BBC. They will meet with Ukrainian refugees from the eastern regions.

Last week, Williams told BBC Radio that there was a strong current in favor of excluding the Russian Orthodox Church from the World Council of Churches because of its complicity in the Putin regime, which refused to condemn the killing of innocent people in the war in Ukraine. Pope Francis has given his blessing for Tuesday’s visit, noting that we live in times when we cannot remain silent. He recently stated that he was considering a visit to Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin went to the Russian Far East with Alexander Lukashenko

Russian President Vladimir Putin went on a business trip to the Amur region of the Russian Far East on Tuesday, accompanied by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, TASS reports.

The Russian news agency claims that the visit is a celebration of Cosmonautics Day in Russia and that Vladimir Putin’s program includes a visit to the Vostocinai cosmodrome inaugurated in 2016 after its construction cost Moscow’s treasury between 4 and 5.3 billion euros.

According to the same source, Putin and Lukashenko will then discuss the “development of bilateral cooperation”, the situation in Ukraine and the common opposition to Western sanctions. The two will hold a press conference after the talks.

Biden tells Indian PM Russia’s additional oil purchase is not in India’s best interests

President Joe Biden has told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Russia’s additional oil purchase is not in India’s best interests and could hamper the US response to the war in Ukraine, US official sources told Reuters.

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to inaugurate the fourth U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. Together, they committed to strengthening the U.S.-India relationship through cooperation on clean energy, technology and military cooperation, and expanded economic and people-to-people ties. They also committed to continue cooperation – bilaterally and multilaterally – on ending the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening global health security, advancing global food security, and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific. They emphasized their shared commitment, as leaders of the world’s largest democracies, to respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. The two Leaders also discussed the destabilizing impacts of Russia’s war against Ukraine, with a particular focus on global food supply. President Biden and Prime Minister Modi looked forward to meeting in person later this spring, in Tokyo, for the Quad summit,” says the White House press release.

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