Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that the situation in the south of Donbass remains extremely difficult and confirmed that Russia is reinforcing its troops near the besieged Mariupol.
“There will be more fights. We still have a very difficult road to go to get everything we want.”– said the Ukrainian president. “The situation in the south of Donbass remains extremely difficult. »
During the video message, Volodymyr Zelenskiy also indicated that he fired two high-ranking national security officials on the grounds that they were traitors.
This is the general director of internal security and the director of the Kherson branch of the national security service. “I don’t have time to deal with all the traitors, but they will all be punished”he said, adding that the two men did not take an oath to defend Ukraine, without giving details.
The Ukrainian president, who often uses colorful language, said that the Russians are so evil and so intent on destruction that they seem to have come from another world. “monsters that burn and plunder, attack and are determined to kill.”
Russian attacks on grain stocks
Footage released by the White House shows what a U.S. official has described as damage to granaries in eastern Ukraine.
Two black-and-white images show long, rectangular buildings in eastern Ukraine, first intact in January and then with damaged roofs that, according to one legend, “impact craters” in March.
The US says it has information that Russian troops have repeatedly damaged granaries in Ukraine. “As of the end of March, at least six granaries were damaged as a result of these shellings”he declared.
There are no more Russian soldiers in Chernobyl
All Russian troops stationed at the Chernobyl nuclear site in northern Ukraine have left the scene, the Ukrainian nuclear company Energoatom said Thursday, after reporting earlier in the day that only a handful of Russians were at the site at all times.
There were no comments from Russia, whose army captured in the first days of its offensive, launched on February 24, the site of the nuclear power plant, which was stopped after the 1986 accident, did not follow.
Despite this takeover, Ukrainian personnel at Chernobyl have continued to oversee operations ever since.
“According to the personnel of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, there is no longer any foreign element on the site”This is stated in the message of Energoatom, posted on the network.
The Ukrainian state-owned company also said that Russian soldiers had withdrawn from the nearby town of Slavutych, home to employees of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Humanitarian corridor to open in Mariupol on Friday
Russia said Thursday evening, March 31, that a humanitarian corridor allowing the evacuation of civilians would open this Friday, April 1, in Mariupol, a major port city in southeastern Ukraine that Moscow forces have been trying to capture for weeks.
“The Russian Armed Forces will reopen the humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to Zaporozhye (220 km northwest) on April 1 from 10:00 Moscow time”or 7 a.m. GMT, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
This measure was taken after “the personal appeal of the President of France (Emmanuel Macron) and the Chancellor of Germany (Olaf Scholz) to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” the ministry said in a statement.
“To ensure the success of this humanitarian operation, it is proposed to conduct it with the direct participation of representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross”he continued.
The humanitarian situation in Mariupol is catastrophic, with tens of thousands of civilians trapped and suffering from hunger and cold.
The Ukrainian government said it sent 45 buses Thursday to evacuate civilians from Mariupol to Zaporozhye, blaming Russian forces for not letting them into the city.
Putin put some advisers under house arrest
US President Joe Biden said on Thursday, March 31 that “evidence that (Vladimir Putin) fired or placed under house arrest some of his advisers”while recognizing that we do not have “incontrovertible evidence”.
He also believed that Vladimir Putin “felt isolated”.
But the President said that “a lot of speculation” around this information about the President of Russia, and advised not to “don’t give it too much importance”.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told him about this. “Information” public – not intelligence information – that “Several Russian officials have been put on the doorstep, removed, suspended or […] placed under house arrest. »
“We have reason to believe that President Putin feels misled. If you look at the last five or six weeks, he clearly made a few miscalculations.”he continued.
White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, more assertively, called on Wednesday “constant pressure” between the President of Russia and his staff.
The Pentagon expects a “protracted” conflict
The reorientation of Russia’s military efforts to the Donbass, in eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces will clash with a hardened Ukrainian army, portends conflict “long”which could last for months, the Pentagon warned.
“If in fact they give priority to the Donbass, […] The area where they haven’t fought for eight years, the area where there are a lot of Ukrainian soldiers who are very active, this can last for some time.”This was stated to journalists by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
“It might not be a matter of days or weeks, it might be much longer, but it’s still hard to say,” he added.
For his part, a senior Pentagon official noted that “Ukrainians know the territory very well” in Donbas, recalling that for eight years now, the latent conflict has been pitting separatists against Ukrainian forces in the area.
“So just because (the Russians) prioritize it, increase their numbers and put more energy into it, it doesn’t mean it will be easy for them. This may portend a longer and more protracted conflict.”.
President of the European Parliament visits Kyiv
Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament for Malta, tweeted Thursday night that she “on the way to Kyiv”.
“I’m going to Kyiv”she simply wrote in English and Ukrainian, with a Ukrainian flag and a hashtag in support of the occupied country, as well as a photo of her wrapped in a jacket in front of what looks like a train car.
Ms Metsola, who was elected President of the European Parliament on January 18, did not go into details.
Once at her destination, she will be the first head of a European institution to visit the Ukrainian capital since the start of the Russian invasion.
On Thursday, Russia announced that it would ban European leaders and most MEPs from entering its territory in response to crackdowns on Moscow. Russian diplomacy did not publish a list of victims, but said it had informed the European representation in Moscow about this measure.