The Russian army is continuing its offensive in Ukraine on Monday March 7, tightening its grip on the capital Kiev. Heavy fighting is also taking place in Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy. The third round of negotiations between Russians and Ukrainians did not yield convincing results.
► The fighting continues
Heavy fighting opposes Ukrainian and Russian forces in the cities of Kiev, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy. The Russian army is also continuing the siege of the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov in the south-east of the country, where a second attempt at humanitarian evacuation failed on Sunday March 6.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of planning to bomb the Black Sea port of Odessa. Russian missiles fired from ships at sea fell on the village of Tuzly in the Odessa region on Monday (March 7th), a regional military spokesman said. According to him, the shots were aimed at “critical infrastructure sites”but caused no injuries.
The mayor of Gostomel, a city neighboring Kiev known since the beginning of the invasion to house a military base, was killed by the Russian army. Yuri Illitch Prylipko was distributing food and medicine to the injured, according to a statement from the city on Facebook. Nine people were killed in a Russian bombardment of Vinnytsia airport, 200 kilometers southwest of Kiev. At least 13 people also died in bombings that hit an industrial bakery in Makariv, about fifty kilometers west of the capital.
► 406 civilians killed, including 27 children, since the start of the invasion
The UN Human Rights Office said at least 406 civilians, including 27 children, had died since the start of the invasion, which also left 801 injured. The day before, the toll was 364 dead and 759 injured.
So far, 1.7 million people have already fled Ukraine, but Europe can expect to welcome five million exiles if the invasion and bombing of cities continues, said the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell. In Irpin, 20 kilometers northwest of Kiev, 10,000 people fled the fighting in 5 days. According to local authorities, the same number remain to be evacuated, while 10,000 others refuse to leave. The UN also expressed concern about the 100,000 children living in boarding schools, indicating that precautions were needed to evacuate them to other countries.
Ukraine announced this morning that it refuses to use the humanitarian corridors opened by Russia, as they all lead to Belarus and Russia. “It is not an acceptable option”, lamented Ukrainian Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced “moral and political cynicism” of Vladimir Putin. The Russians accuse Ukraine of blocking the evacuation of civilians.
► The third round of negotiations ends without convincing results
The third round of negotiations which took place on Monday ended with “some positive results” on humanitarian corridors, but Russia said it was disappointed with the outcome of the meeting. For Emmanuel Macron, these diplomatic initiatives will not lead to the end of the conflict in the days and weeks to come. The two previous rounds of negotiations, also held in Belarus, an ally of Moscow, had not yielded satisfactory results either.
→ TESTIMONY. Ukraine: “The Russians don’t want to capture Mariupol, they want to turn it into a field of ruins”
A meeting is however planned between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers at the end of the week. Sergei Lavrov and Dmytro Kuleba are due to travel to Turkey on Thursday at the invitation of their Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Cavusoglu. Russia also refused to appear on Monday at the opening of hearings before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a procedure initiated by Ukraine, which is asking the highest UN court to order Moscow to stop its invasion.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new sanctions against ten government officials and oligarchs, accused of being “accomplices” of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As for Poland, it has passed a bill giving an automatic right to legal residence of 18 months for Ukrainians, as well as access to health services and educational establishments. At the same time, the European Union announced that it had launched the examination of the membership applications of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.
→ REREAD. War in Ukraine: Mariupol, a strategic city besieged and bombarded by the Russian army
The United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom have said they want to increase the price paid by Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The announcement comes as the Western front seemed to crack over the ban on Russian oil imports, which Germany opposes. Washington wants this embargo, but remains cautious not to rush its allies and avoid inflation in the United States. Russia has warned of dire consequences for the global market if the measure is put in place.