Ukraine orders end to Mariupol defense » Capital News


The young Russian soldier on trial for killing an unarmed Ukrainian civilian told the court he was “really sorry”. © AFP/Yasuyoshi CHIBA

kyiv (Ukraine) (AFP), May 20 – Ukraine on Friday ordered its last troops holed up in Mariupol’s beleaguered Azovstal steelworks to lay down their arms after nearly three months of desperate resistance against a fierce Russian onslaught.

Russia’s flattening of the strategic port city has prompted multiple war crimes charges, including a deadly attack on a maternity hospital, and Ukraine has begun a tally of captured Russian troops.

The first post-invasion trial of a Russian soldier for war crimes came to a head in kyiv, after 21-year-old Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin admitted to killing an unarmed civilian early in the offensive. The verdict is due on Monday.

Military supplies for Ukraine © SWIMMING POOL/AFP / JOHANNA GERON

Shishimarin told the court on Friday that he was “really sorry.” But his lawyer said in closing arguments that the young soldier was “not guilty” of premeditated murder and war crimes.

As Ukrainian forces repelled the Russian offensive around kyiv, aided by a steady infusion of Western weaponry, eastern Ukraine and Mariupol in the south bore the brunt of a ground and artillery attack. without remorse.

“The Russian occupation forces are conducting intense fire along the entire line of contact and are trying to drive artillery deep into the defenses of the Ukrainian troops,” the spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense told reporters. Oleksandr Motuzyanyk.

Ukrainian children play Territorial Defense fighters on patrol in a village in the Kyiv region © AFP / Sergei CHUZAVKOV

The fighting is fiercest in the eastern region of Donbass, a Russian-speaking area partially controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists since 2014.

“In the Donbass, the occupiers are trying to increase the pressure,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Thursday evening. “There is hell – and that’s no exaggeration.”

In the eastern city of Severodonetsk, 12 people were also killed and 40 others injured by Russian shelling, the regional governor said.

– Burial with honors –

Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and candidate countries © AFP/Jonathan WALTER

Zelensky described the shelling of Severodonetsk as “brutal and utterly unnecessary”, as residents cowering in basements described an endless ordeal of terror.

The city is part of the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in Lugansk, which together with the neighboring region of Donetsk includes the Donbass war zone.

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said his forces’ campaign in Lugansk was “nearing completion”.

The capture of the Azovstal steelworks, a totemic symbol of Ukraine’s fierce resistance since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on February 24, is also apparently complete.

A total of 1,908 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered at the steelworks this week, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, after releasing a video showing scruffy defenders being taken captive.

The commander of the Ukrainian Azov battalion, Denys Prokopenko, said that only dead remained.

“The higher military command gave the order to save the lives of the soldiers of our garrison and to stop defending the city,” he said in a video on Telegram.

US President Joe Biden supports Finland and Sweden in their NATO bid © AFP / MANDEL NGAN

“I now hope that soon the families and all of Ukraine will be able to bury their fighters with honors.”

Ukraine wants to exchange the soldiers from Azovstal who surrendered for Russian prisoners. But in Donetsk, the pro-Kremlin authorities are in turn threatening to bring some of them to justice.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has urged both sides to grant it access to prisoners of war and civilian internees, “wherever they are held”.

Kharkiv remains within the firing range of Russian artillery and hundreds of people refuse to leave the relative safety of its metro system © AFP / Dimitar DILKOFF

“Many more families need answers,” he said in a statement.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said all POWs must “be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention and the laws of war.”

US President Joe Biden has framed the war in Ukraine as part of a US-led struggle between democracy and authoritarianism.

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The US Congress has approved a $40 billion (38 billion euro) aid package, including funds to improve Ukraine’s armored vehicle fleet and air defense system.

– Underground life –

And meeting in Germany, the industrialized nations of the G7 pledged $19.8 billion to shore up Ukraine’s crumbling public finances.

Biden offered “total, total and complete support” to Finland and Sweden in their bid to join the NATO military alliance, when he welcomed their leaders to the White House on Thursday.

But the current 30 members of NATO must agree on any new entrants, and Turkey has condemned the alleged tolerance of historically non-aligned northern neighbors towards Kurdish militants.

Shoigu said the Kremlin would respond to any NATO expansion by creating more military bases in western Russia.

Russia’s expansion in Ukraine has slowed around the northeastern city of Kharkiv as its troops were forced to withdraw from a rearguard offensive by defense forces.

But Kharkiv remains within the firing range of Russian artillery, and hundreds of people refuse to leave the relative safety of its subway system.

” We are tired. You can see the comfort we have at home,” said Kateryna Talpa, 35, pointing to mattresses and sheets on the floor, and food in a cardboard box.

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She and her husband Yuriy do their best to get along at the Soviet-era station called “Heroes of Labour”, alongside their cats Marek and Sima.

“They got used to it,” Talpa said.

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