Updates from the 85th day of the invasion
- The Red Cross records hundreds of Ukrainian fighters captured as prisoners of war.
- The EU is exploring ways to use the oligarchs’ frozen assets to help rebuild Ukraine.
- G7, UN officials met separately, with the release of Ukrainian food exports.
- The U.S. Senate is sending a $ 40 billion Ukrainian aid package to Biden to sign.
The fate of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who surrendered after resisting punitive attacks on the Mariupol steel plant hung on Thursday amid international fears that the Kremlin would retaliate against prisoners.
This photo taken from a video released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday shows wounded Ukrainian soldiers lying in a hospital in Novoazovsk, Ukraine. (Press service of the Russian Ministry of Defense / The Associated Press)
The International Committee of the Red Cross collected personal information from hundreds of soldiers (name, date of birth, closest relative) and registered them as prisoners of war (POWs) as part of their role in ensuring human treatment. of prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.
Amnesty International said in a tweet that Ukrainian soldiers are now prisoners of war and, as such, “should not be subjected to any form of torture or ill-treatment.”
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More than 1,700 defenders at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered since Monday, Russian authorities said, in what appeared to be the final stage of the nearly three-month siege of the now-dusted port city.
At least some of the fighters were taken by the Russians to a former penal colony in Moscow-backed separatist-controlled territory. A separatist official said others were hospitalized.
But an undisclosed number remained in the home of bunkers and tunnels on the extensive plant.
In a short video message, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment, who led the steel defense, said he and other fighters were still inside.
“An operation is underway, the details of which I will not announce,” said Svyatoslav Palamar.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was working to ensure “that the most influential international forces are informed and, as far as possible, involved in the salvation of our troops.”
A Russian soldier is on Wednesday on the side of a road next to destroyed houses in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. (Olga Maltseva / AFP / Getty Images)
While Ukraine has expressed hope for a prisoner exchange, Russian authorities have threatened to investigate and prosecute some of Azovstal’s combatants for war crimes, calling them “Nazis” and criminals.
The Kremlin has seized the far-right origins of the Azov regiment as part of an effort to turn the invasion of Russia into a battle against Nazi influence in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, at the first war crimes trial in Ukraine, a captured Russian soldier testified that he shot an unarmed civilian in the head at the behest of an officer, and asked the victim’s widow to pardon him. The soldier pleaded guilty earlier this week, but prosecutors presented evidence against him in accordance with Ukrainian law.
In the Poltava region, two more Russian soldiers appeared in court on Thursday on charges of war crimes that had bombed civilians. Prosecutors said both were found guilty. The next court hearing in his case is set for May 26.
In addition, more U.S. aid appeared to be approaching Ukraine when the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a $ 40 billion US military and economic aid package for the country and its allies. The U.S. House voted on it last week. U.S. President Joe Biden’s quick signature was safe.
Mariupol and the Moscow War
Taking over the Azovstal steel plant would allow Russia to claim full control of Mariupol, a long-sought victory that would be mostly symbolic at the moment, as the city is already effectively under Moscow’s control and military analysts say most of the Russian forces that were tied up. for the battle they are already left.
A woman looks at the roof of a house in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Thursday. (Alexei Alexandrov / The Associated Press)
Kyiv’s troops, backed by Western weapons, thwarted Russia’s initial goal of storming the capital and linked Moscow’s forces to the Donbass, the eastern industrial region now headed by President Vladimir Putin. to capture.
The astonishing success of Ukrainian troops has boosted Kyiv’s confidence.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who took part in several rounds of talks with Russia, said in a tweet to Moscow: “Don’t offer us a ceasefire; this is impossible without the full withdrawal of Russian troops.” .
Do not offer us a ceasefire: this is impossible without the complete withdrawal of Russian troops. Ukraine is not interested in the new “Minsk” and the renewal of the war in a few years. Until 🇷🇺 is ready to completely liberate the occupied territories, our negotiating team is weapons, sanctions and money.
– @ Podolyak_M
“Until Russia is ready to completely liberate the occupied territories, our negotiating team is weapons, sanctions and money,” he wrote.
Russia, however, reaffirmed its intention to incorporate or at least maintain influence over the areas that its forces have occupied.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions this week, many of which are under Russian control shortly after the invasion began in February. He was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying that they would be part of “our Russian family”.
TARGET | Irpin’s families face loss and an uncertain future:
Living in the ruins of the Ukrainian war
Inside an apartment building in Irpin, Ukraine, residents are struggling to cope with the devastation left by the war, not knowing how to move on with their lives.
In addition, Volodymyr Balance, the Kremlin-appointed head of the Kherson region, appeared in a video on the Telegram saying that Kherson “will become a subject of the Russian Federation.”
In other news, U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke by telephone on Thursday with his Russian counterpart for the first time since the war began, and agreed to keep the lines open. communications, the Pentagon. dit.
Civilians, dead truck driver
On the battlefield, the Ukrainian army said Russian forces were pressing their offensive on several sections of the Donbass front, but were being repelled. The governor of Luhansk region said Russian bombings killed four civilians, while separatist authorities in Donetsk said Ukrainian bombings killed two.
Zelensky said 12 people were killed and dozens more were injured in the city of Severodonetsk, and attacks in the northeastern region of Chernivtsi included a severe attack on the village of Desna, where many more were killed and rescuers they still passed among the ruins.
Lithuanian police officers, part of a joint international effort to investigate possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine, are investigating former Russian positions outside the village of Mala Rogan near Kharkiv on Wednesday. (Sergey Bobok / AFP / Getty Images)
On the Russian side of the border, the governor of Kursk province said a truck driver was killed in a bombing raid from Ukraine.
On the diplomatic front, Finland and Sweden could become members of NATO in a matter of months, although the objections of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threaten to disrupt things. Turkey accuses both countries of hosting Kurdish militants.
TARGET | The ambassador says Putin is probably not surprised by NATO’s offer:
Finnish, Swedish ambassadors “optimistic” and “humble” over NATO candidacy
Finland’s ambassador to Canada, Roy Eriksson, and Sweden’s ambassador to Canada, Urban Ahlin, consider how quickly their countries could be part of the NATO alliance.
U.S. President Joe Biden met with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at the White House on Thursday.
“They meet all NATO requirements and then some,” Biden said at first, adding that “having two new NATO members in the far north will improve the security of our alliance.”
He apologizes in the war crimes trial
At the war crimes trial in Kyiv, the sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old member of a Russian tank unit, told the court that he shot in the head Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian, on the orders of an officer.
Shishimarin said he disobeyed a first order, but felt he had no choice but to obey when another officer repeated it. He said he was told the man could indicate the location of troops in Ukrainian forces.
TARGET | Emotional testimony at trial:
Russian soldier apologizes for war crimes trial in Ukraine
At the first war crimes trial in Ukraine, a 21-year-old Russian soldier confronted the widow of the 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian she killed.
A prosecutor has argued that Shishimarin acted under orders, saying the direction did not come from a direct commander.
Shishimarin apologized to the victim’s widow, Kateryna Shelipova, who described her husband being shot outside her home in the early days of the Russian invasion.
He told the court that he believed Shishimarin deserved a life sentence, as much as possible, but that he would not mind being exchanged as part of an exchange by the defenders of the Azovstal plant.
Kateryna Shelipova, the Ukrainian widow of a civilian shot dead weeks ago, is reflected in a mirror on Wednesday as Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, on trial, leans forward. (Genya Savilov / AFP / Getty Images)
The finance ministers of the Group of Seven Leading Economies, including Canada’s Chrystia Freeland, were in Koenigswinter, Germany, on Thursday to address the immediate effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic. more ambitious reform plans. the global economy.
A refugee crisis, high inflation, food insecurity exacerbated by war and climate change, and the ramifications of …