Russian Forces Withdraw From Northern Ukraine

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At least some of these Russian forces will be transferred to eastern Ukraine to fight in the Donbas region, according to the British Ministry of Defense. Kremlin laments its mounting troop losses as a “tragedy.” The Ukrainian government urges citizens to flee eastern cities immediately or risk death, says an article published in Israelhayom.

Transfer to eastern Ukraine

Russian forces have now fully withdrawn from northern Ukraine to Belarus and Russia, British military intelligence said on Friday.

At least some of these Russian forces will be transferred to eastern Ukraine to fight in the Donbas region, the British Ministry of Defense said on Twitter. The forces will require replenishment before being deployed further east, with any mass redeployment from the north likely to take at least a week.

The ministry added that Russian shelling of cities in the east and south continues and Russian forces have advanced further south from the city of Izium, which remains under their control.

On Thursday, Russia gave the most somber assessment so far of its invasion of Ukraine, describing the “tragedy” of mounting troop losses and the economic hit from sanctions, as Ukrainians were told to evacuate immediately from eastern cities or risk death before an anticipated Russian onslaught in the Donbas region.

A huge tragedy

Moscow’s six-week-long incursion has killed or injured thousands has turned cities into rubble, and led to sweeping sanctions on Russian leaders and companies.

Moscow has previously acknowledged its attack has not progressed as quickly as it wanted, but on Thursday Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov lamented the rising death toll.

“We have significant losses of troops,” he told Sky News. “It’s a huge tragedy for us.”

Russia is facing its most difficult economic situation for three decades due to unprecedented Western sanctions, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said.

More bans on Russia

The US Congress removed its “most favored nation” trade status and Washington blacklisted two Russian state-owned companies, a shipbuilding firm and a diamond miner as it sought to starve Russia’s “war machine.”

US President Joe Biden said a UN vote to expel Russia from the UN Human Rights Council demonstrated how “Putin’s war has made Russia an international pariah. He called the images coming from the town of Bucha, near the capital Kyiv, “horrifying.”

“The signs of people being raped, tortured, executed – in some cases having their bodies desecrated – are an outrage to our common humanity,” Biden said.

Israel is mumbling

Meanwhile, Natan Sharansky, the ex-chairman of the Jewish Agency, said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett fears criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

“No doubt it’s war crimes, crimes against Ukraine, crimes against the free world, and we have to condemn it in the strongest words to fight against it,” Sharansky said.

Bennett earlier this week denounced the killings in Bucha, but notably avoided mentioning Russia by name – possibly to avoid damaging bilateral relations.

“Israel is mumbling [when faced with] such a clear moral situation of a fight of good against evil, and tries to be on good terms with all sides,” Sharansky explained, adding that “our prime minister is afraid to call out Putin, who is behind these crimes, by name.”

Following the killing of civilians in Bucha, which were widely condemned by the West as war crimes, Ukraine also called on allies to stop buying Russian oil and gas, amid divisions in Europe, and to boost it militarily.

Fatalities 

“Ukraine needs weapons which will give it the means to win on the battlefield and that will be the strongest possible sanction against Russia,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video late on Thursday.

He also said the situation in Borodianka – another town northwest of Kyiv retaken from Russian forces – is “significantly more dreadful” than in Bucha, without citing any evidence.

Video from Borodianka showed search and rescue teams using heavy equipment to dig through the rubble of a building that collapsed. Hundreds of people were feared buried.

The mayor of Bucha, near Kyiv, said investigators have found at least three sites of mass shootings of civilians during the Russian occupation. Most victims died from gunshots, not from shelling, he said, and some corpses with their hands tied were “dumped like firewood” into recently discovered mass graves, including one at a children’s camp. In the seaport city of Mariupol, Ukrainian authorities expected to find much the same. “The same cruelty. The same terrible crimes,” Zelenskyy said.

Moscow has denied targeting civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha were staged to justify more sanctions against Moscow and derail peace negotiations.

The EU’s ambassadors agreed that a fifth sanctions package on Russia with a coal embargo containing a 120-day wind-down period to give member states time to find alternative suppliers.

Ukraine accusations

Ukraine accused Hungary of undermining EU unity after Budapest said it was prepared to pay roubles for Russian gas, a Kremlin demand that most in the West had resisted.

On the battlefield, Ukraine said that after withdrawing from Kyiv’s outskirts, Russia was regrouping to try to gain full control over the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been partly held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Mariupol, where the mayor said over 100,000 people were still trapped, was also a target.

“Evacuate! The chances of saving yourself and your family from Russian death are dwindling every day,” Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said.

Authorities in Dnipro, a city in central-eastern Ukraine, also urged women, children and the elderly to leave.

Trading accusations

Both sides continued to trade accusations, with Moscow opening a criminal investigation into a Russian soldier’s allegations that he was beaten and threatened with death while being held in Ukraine as a prisoner of war.

Separately, a social media video verified by Reuters and geo-located to an area west of Kyiv appears to show Ukrainian forces shooting and killing a captured and badly wounded Russian soldier.

NATO members agreed to strengthen support for Ukraine on Thursday.

Ukraine has received about 25,000 anti-aircraft weapons systems from the United States and its allies, the top US general said, and Washington is looking into what new support it could send.

In a video address posted on YouTube, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov made a plea for heavier, more modern weapons after Russia changed tactics to focus on long-range strikes from the air.

As a result, Ukraine needs air defense systems, long-range artillery, tanks and anti-ship missiles, Reznikov said.

Major Displacement

The United Nations estimates the war has displaced at least 6.5 million people within the country.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said that more than 4 million have left Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24 and sparked Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II. Half of the refugees are children, according to UNHCR and the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.

The International Organization for Migration, which tracks not just refugees but all people on the move from their homes, estimated that more than 12 million people are stranded in areas of Ukraine under attack.

The United Nations’ humanitarian chief told The Associated Press on Thursday that he’s “not optimistic” about securing a cease-fire after meeting with officials in Kyiv and in Moscow this week, underlining the lack of trust the two sides have for one another. He spoke hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Ukraine of backtracking on proposals it had made over Crimea and Ukraine’s military status.

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Source: Israelhayom

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