Russian Withdrawal From North ‘Slow But Noticeable’

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Ukraine president adds that Kremlin is trying to conscript troops from Crimea, while Kyiv officials say captured troops from both sides have been exchanged today, reports The Guardian.

About the rescue

Zelenskiy said 6,266 people had been rescued through humanitarian corridors in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia, including 3,071 from Mariupol. They were also negotiating on the removal of the dead from the city.

At least 5,000 people have been killed in the besieged city, according to local authorities. An estimated 170,000 are still there, facing shortages of food, water and electricity. The international Red Cross said a team heading to the city to conduct a separate evacuation effort was forced to turn back Friday after “arrangements and conditions made it impossible to proceed”.

The Red Cross said its team will try again Saturday.

Official statement

In the last hour Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has released a video statement. Speaking from what looks like a conference room, with a screen bearing the Ukrainian flag behind him, he has levelled further accusations of war crimes at Russia, claiming it was trying to conscript people from Crimea into the armed forces to fight.

“After them a complete disaster and many dangers are left, it’s true,” he said, adding that bombs may continue and the Russians were leaving mines in the area as they left, including in houses, equipment, and the bodies of people left behind.

“Anyone who returns to this area must be very careful,” he said. It is still impossible to return to normal life as it was… Wait for our land to be cleared, wait until you can be assured that new shelling is impossible.”

Zelenskiy said Russian forces were massing in Donbas, towards Kharkiv and were “preparing for even more powerful blows”.

He noted the beginning of Russia’s conscription season, saying this year it was “guaranteed death for many young guys”.

He sent the men and their families a warning: “We don’t need more dead people here. Save your children so they do not become villains. Don’t send them to the army. Do whatever you can to keep them alive. Keep them at home.”

He accused Russia of trying to take people into the army from Crimea, which he said was a violation of humanitarian law, and called for further sanctions in response. He urged people in Crimea to refuse but if they couldn’t, to surrender to Ukrainian military “at the first opportunity”.

“We will understand everything. You will live,” he said.

Separately, he said Russia had installed “temporary leaders” in some southern Ukraine areas, who were threatening employees of businesses and authorities into cooperating. Zelenskiy warned of problems” for anyone who became one of these leaders, who he termed “collaborators.

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Source: The Guardian