what to remember from the fifth day of the Russian offensive

Nicolas Tonev (from Ukraine), Marion Gauthier (from Poland), from Europe1.fr
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22:49, February 28, 2022

VITAL

Russian and Ukrainian delegations began talks on Monday to try to end the war in Ukraine, on the fifth day of a Russian invasion that has already forced more than 500,000 Ukrainians to flee their country. These first talks come at a time when Vladimir Putin’s forces are facing heavy resistance from the Ukrainian military and Western sanctions of unprecedented magnitude are shaking the Russian economy. Europe 1 evaluates the situation.

Basic information to remember:

– Negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations began

– Noose tightens around Kyiv, which is resisting Russian attacks

– registered 500,000 refugees from Ukraine

First day of negotiations

After negotiations between the two sides, the Russian and Ukrainian delegations left the negotiating table in Belarus and are returning for “consultations in their capitals.” A “second round” of negotiations has already been agreed. According to one of the Russian negotiators, Vladimir Medinsky, this new meeting will take place “soon” on the Polish-Belarusian border. Kyiv, in particular, demanded “an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of (Russian) troops from the territory of Ukraine.” President Zelensky, who is not taking part in the talks and whose delegation is led by Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, called on Russian soldiers from Kyiv to “lay down their arms.”

He also asked the EU for Ukraine’s “immediate” integration. “I’m sure it’s right. I’m sure it’s possible,” he said. The process of integrating a new country into the EU usually takes years. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, stressed that there are “different opinions” on this issue, which requires unanimity.

For his part, the head of the Russian delegation, Kremlin adviser Vladimir Medinsky, told him that he wanted to “find an agreement” with Kiev that would be “in the interests of both sides.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to voice Russia’s demands, stressing that the talks should take place “in silence”.

But the tense situation on the ground…

As long as both sides sit at the negotiating table, the situation on the ground remains very tense. Our special correspondent in Zhytomyr, a city about 150 kilometers west of Ukraine, testifies to frequent shelling. But planes continue to fly over the city at an average height. We hear the motors of these vehicles, as if the pilots were looking for targets, or at least trying to impress the population.

There was also machine gun fire tonight, clearly audible. Complete lockdown is introduced: no more buses, no more connections with the outside world. They fear that Russian troops are trying to get closer, and the city is barricaded.

… especially in Kyiv

On the spot, Kyiv on Monday said the Russian army tried to storm the capital at night, where a curfew was in place most of the weekend, but the attacks were repelled. Once the curfew was lifted on Monday morning, residents calmly lined up in front of the few food stores that were still open.

The city is now teeming with makeshift barricades, tires, furniture, old Zhiguli across the road guarded by armed volunteers with yellow armbands. The Russian army assured that civilians could leave Kyiv “freely” and accused the Ukrainian authorities of using them as a “human shield”, threatening a large-scale assault.

Uncertain record

The outcome of the conflict is still uncertain. Ukraine has reported the deaths of about 200 civilians and dozens of military personnel since Thursday. Among the victims were 16 children. The UN said on Monday it had recorded 102 civilians killed, including 7 children, and 304 wounded, but warned the actual numbers were “significantly” higher. On Sunday, the Russian army admitted for the first time that it had identified the “dead” and “wounded” during the invasion of Ukraine, without providing numbers.

According to the UNHCR, more than 500,000 Ukrainian refugees

The flow of refugees leaving Ukraine continues to grow. More than 500,000 refugees have fled to neighboring countries since Thursday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Monday. The EU has said it expects more than seven million displaced people. Most leave for Poland, where a large Ukrainian community already lived before the conflict. Very close to the border, our special correspondent saw arriving trains with refugees. Among them are Victoria and Oleg, who finally caught their breath after more than 30 hours on the train. From the neighboring region of Donbass to Poland. “It was terrible,” he testifies at the Europa 1 microphone. “So many people in such a small car… There were a lot of children, there was nowhere to move, there was no toilet.”

If the father of the family was not mobilized, like other Ukrainians, it is because he already has three children and a fourth is due to be born. “It’s terrible because we left our brothers, our uncles who are fighting,” Victoria said. “There are many wounded in the Dnieper, it is very hard to hold back tears.” Mother, however, smiles bravely and makes her way through the motley crowd of exhausted refugees and busy volunteers.

And, despite the fatigue, Warsaw and the roof donated by friends are still far away. In the lobby of this station, loudspeakers repeat at will that the trains are free for everyone who presents a Ukrainian passport.

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