Evacuations hit again as battle rages outside Kyiv - GulfToday

Evacuations hit again as battle rages outside Kyiv


Women with a child carry their luggage after crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland on Saturday. Reuters

Fighting raged near Kyiv on Saturday and heavy shelling in other areas threatened new attempts to evacuate trapped civilians as France said Russian President Vladimir Putin showed no readiness to end the war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Moscow was sending in new troops after Ukrainian forces put 31 of Russia's battalion tactical groups out of action in what he called Russia's largest army losses in decades. It was not possible to verify his statements.

Zelensky discussed the war with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Emmanuel Macron, and the German and French leaders then spoke to Putin by phone and urged the Russian leader to order an immediate ceasefire.

Zelensky says he’s open for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Israel ,but only if there is a cease-fire in place. Zelensky also said on Saturday that he told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that he would be ready to meet Putin in Jerusalem.

Bennett visited Moscow for a meeting with Putin and spoke repeatedly with Zelensky and the leaders of France and Germany as he sought to help mediate an end to the war.

Russian forces pounding the port city of Mariupol shelled a mosque sheltering more than 80 people, including children, the Ukrainian government said on Saturday.

A Kremlin statement on the 75-minute call made no mention of a ceasefire and a French presidency official said: "We did not detect a willingness on Putin's part to end the war."

Responding to Zelensky's call for the West to be more involved in peace negotiations, a US State Department spokesperson said: "If there are diplomatic steps that we can take that the Ukrainian government believes would be helpful, we're prepared to take them." Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused the United States of escalating tensions and said the situation had been complicated by convoys of Western arms shipments to Ukraine that Russian forces considered "legitimate targets."

In comments reported by the Tass news agency, Ryabkov made no specific threat, but any attack on such convoys before they reached Ukraine would risk widening the war.

Crisis talks between Moscow and Kyiv over the conflict in Ukraine, which had been conducted in person in Belarus, have continued via a video link, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday, according to the RIA news agency.

Peskov said Putin had briefed Macron and Scholz in a call on Saturday about the negotiations held in video format in recent days. He said Vladimir Medinsky, who headed Russia's delegation at the in-person talks, would continue to lead the negotiations on Russia's behalf.

The UN human rights office says at least 579 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the war, and more than 1,000 have been injured. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Saturday that 42 of those killed were children, while 54 were injured. Meanwhile, air raid sirens blared across most Ukrainian cities on Saturday morning urging people to seek shelters, local media reported.

Russian rocket attacks destroyed a Ukrainian airbase and hit an ammunition depot near the town of Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region on Saturday morning, Interfax Ukraine quoted Vasylkiv Mayor Natalia Balasynovych as saying.

The exhausted-looking governor of Chernihiv, around 150 km northeast of Kyiv, gave a video update in front of the ruins of the city's Ukraine Hotel, which he said had been hit. Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remained encircled under heavy Russian shelling, it said. Efforts to isolate Russia economically have stepped up, with the United States imposing new sanctions on senior Kremlin officials and Russian oligarchs on Friday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would on Saturday suspend Moscow's privileged trade and economic treatment, crack down on its use of crypto-assets, and ban the import of iron and steel goods from Russia, as well as the export of luxury goods in the other direction. Agencies

Related articles