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Day 79 of the Ukraine War: Dead civilians, destroyed oil refinery and telephone diplomacy

2022-05-13T19:13:09.382Z

In eastern Ukraine, the Russian army is trying in vain to encircle strategically important cities. After a long radio silence, Olaf Scholz and the US Secretary of Defense are both on the phone to Russia again. The overview.



Enlarge image

Residents fill up Lysychansk canisters with water: the Russian army has so far unsuccessfully tried to conquer the city in eastern Ukraine

Photo: Leo Correa / dpa

Russia continued to attack targets in Ukraine on the 79th day of its illegal invasion.

In the east of the country in particular, heavy fighting raged.

Both sides apparently achieved military successes, while at the same time the war seems to be developing into a battle of attrition.

For example, Russia reported destroying an oil refinery in central Ukraine and shooting down a Ukrainian plane, while Ukrainian troops continued to secure the recaptured region around the city of Kharkiv.

Friday was also marked by new diplomatic efforts: the US Secretary of Defense spoke to his Russian counterpart for the first time in three months, the German government reported a phone call between Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

military situation

On Friday, Russia tried to conquer more areas in eastern Ukraine, but progress was slow or even pushed back.

In the city of Kharkiv, for example, Ukrainian troops have been able to push their opponents back far to the east in the past few days and continued to secure the area around the city on Friday.

A well-known former commander of the pro-Russian armed forces in eastern Ukraine makes serious accusations against the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for the lack of military successes.

"I directly accuse Sergei Shoigu of at least criminal negligence," Igor Girkin said in a video interview published on Friday on his Telegram channel.

This is the harshest public attack on Russia's military leadership yet from one of the prominent hardliners pushing for an intensified warlike campaign in Ukraine.

The Kremlin initially did not comment on this.

Earlier, former Kremlin mercenary Marat Gabidullin of the notorious Wagner Group told Reuters news agency Moscow's troops were ill-prepared for the war.

There was also fighting near Mariupol, as a video released by Ukrainian soldiers shows.

Heavy fighting broke out in other areas in the east of the country, for example around the strategically important cities of Sievjerodonetsk and Lysychansk in the Luhansk region.

There, Russian troops try in vain to encircle towns and Ukrainian forces and cut off their supply routes.

They have already suffered significant losses this week when Ukrainian troops prevented a river crossing.

Britain's Defense Ministry reported on Friday that Russia lost at least one battalion of armored vehicles in the Severskyi Donets River incident.

(Read more about the fiasco for the Russian armed forces here.)

Evidence of another alleged war crime by the Russian army also came to light on Friday.

Surveillance footage shows Russian soldiers apparently killing two unarmed Ukrainians.

Read more about the case, which is now being investigated as a war crime in Ukraine, here.

humanitarian situation

On Friday it became known that more civilians had apparently been killed in the fighting in the Kharkiv and Luhansk regions: According to the Ukrainian civil defense, three men were found dead in the Kharkiv region after a hall fire had been put out.

Five others were injured.

A projectile had hit the hall in the village of Schelynka in the district of Izyum the day before and had started the fire.

Residents of the city of Derhachi reported that a cultural center was destroyed by artillery fire.

After the attack, rescue workers tried to get diapers and baby food out of the building.

"They wanted to hit the base where we store supplies and trigger a humanitarian catastrophe," Mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko told Reuters news agency at the scene.

"I can only describe it as an act of terrorism."

Another rocket hit the building on Thursday, the Russian shell wounding a clinic worker and killing a young couple in their home.

In the neighboring Luhansk region, the military governor Serhiy Hajday reported that two civilians from Lysychansk and Zolote were killed by Russian shelling.

According to Hajdaj, nearly 60 other houses were destroyed in the contested parts of the Luhansk region

Since the beginning of the war, Russia has apparently forcibly deported tens of thousands of Ukrainians from their homeland.

According to a statement on Friday, the United States is assuming this.

From the besieged port city of Mariupol alone, thousands were taken to Russia or Russian-controlled areas, said US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Michael Carpenter, on Thursday in Vienna.

The Ukrainian government estimates the number of those abducted at almost 1.2 million.

According to the ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova, at least 200,000 children are among them.

According to Kiev, Moscow also operates so-called filtration camps in which arrested Ukrainians are interrogated.

Eyewitnesses reported "brutal interrogations" in those camps, Carpenter said.

This and the forced deportations would amount to war crimes.

Lyudmila Denisova, Ukraine's top human rights watchdog, has received more than 30,000 complaints about these and other alleged war crimes since the war began.

SPIEGEL met her in Kyiv for an interview: »Do you know how many dead people can fit in a 300-meter-long grave?«

Who was calling whom?

As it became known on Friday, Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone again after a long radio silence.

In the phone call, Scholz asked the Russian President to come to a ceasefire as soon as possible.

This was announced by the German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

According to the Kremlin, Putin informed Scholz that progress in the negotiations on an end to the conflict had “essentially been blocked by Kyiv”.

It was the first conversation between Scholz and Putin since March 30.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, on the other hand, hasn't even spoken to his counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, for three months.

Then on Friday, Austin called for an immediate ceasefire from the Russian defense minister.

In Germany, however, the phone call between Scholz and Putin made the headlines less than an uproar after Scholz's appearance in front of the Defense Committee of the German Bundestag: Several FDP politicians left the long-awaited meeting early, the SPD appeared irritated.

Read the background to the incident here.

That happened at the double G7 meetings

Both the agriculture ministers and the foreign ministers of the G7 countries met on Friday.

Representatives of Ukraine were either connected or on site.

At the meeting of foreign ministers, Ukraine called for more speed in arms deliveries.

When you're fighting, it doesn't help if the weapons you need are still "on their way," said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Friday after meeting his counterpart near Weissenhauser Strand on the Baltic Sea.

The agriculture ministers of the seven largest industrial nations agreed to help Ukraine continue to export grain despite the Russian war of aggression.

This was reported by Cem Özdemir, the German representative in the group.

It is important to get as much grain as possible from the full silos in Ukraine to the plates of the people in need via rail, road and the Danube.

According to SPIEGEL information, the G7 are also planning budget support of 30 billion euros for Ukraine.

At the moment, the government in Kyiv is short of five billion euros a month just to keep the state running.

(Read the background here.)

You should read this

  • The Russian army's electronic weapons were particularly feared up until this war.

    But Putin's invasion is also faltering because electronic weapons are weakening, as this analysis of weapons systems shows.

  • Ten weeks of war also changed Russian society, reports SPIEGEL correspondent Christina Haken.

    Tightened laws, arrests and prison sentences make it increasingly difficult to voice criticism in Russia.

    Listen to the full podcast on the topic here.

  • Pussy Riot activist Marija Alyokhina has known about Russian repression for years.

    In the SPIEGEL interview, she tells how she was able to secretly leave the country and talks about war, imprisonment and protest: "The letter Z is the new swastika."

  • In Berlin, meanwhile, a criminal case is unfolding involving Russian state property worth millions: a dentist and his Ukrainian lover have sold Russian state property worth millions with allegedly forged Kremlin powers of attorney.

    Is it a brazen case of fraud or a state affair - or do political motives play a role in the alleged perpetrators?

    Read the full research here.

hpp/Reuters/dpa/AP

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-05-13

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