War in Ukraine: the Russian army focuses its offensive on the east, Joe Biden in Poland

The war in Ukraine is stalling, a month after the Russian invasion which failed to achieve its initial objectives, without a clear outcome emerging on the 30th day of the war, this Friday, March 25. « The war freezes into a stalemate in most theaters. But the war is not over and is not likely to end soon, » writes the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW ) who refuses to rule out the slightest prognosis.

Russian army says it will now focus on eastern Ukraine

Russia said on Friday that it now wanted to focus its efforts on the « liberation » of eastern Ukraine. « The main objectives of the first phase of the operation have been fulfilled. The combat capabilities of the Ukrainian forces have been significantly reduced, which allows (…) to concentrate the bulk of the efforts on the main objective: the liberation of Donbass, » said Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Sergei Rudskoy.

Russia’s main advances were in eastern and southern Ukraine, but it did not conquer major cities. The Ukrainian Donbass has been partly controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists. Just before the February 24 offensive, Russia had recognized their independence, and launched its military intervention with the official aim of protecting them from a « genocide » orchestrated by the Ukrainian authorities.

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Russia has also acknowledged the death of 1,351 of its soldiers since the start of its military offensive in Ukraine. It claims to have received 419,736 refugees from Ukraine since the start of the operation, according to Mikhail Mizintsev, director of the Russian National Center for Defense Management.

France summons Russian ambassador over ‘unacceptable’ cartoons

The Russian ambassador in Paris was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry after the publication of cartoons on his Twitter account deemed « unacceptable » by French diplomacy. « These publications are unacceptable. We said it clearly today to the Russian ambassador », Alexei Meshkov, declared the Quai d’Orsay, in the midst of a crisis between Russia and the West around its offensive in Ukraine.

One of the drawings shows Europeans on their knees licking Uncle Sam’s buttocks and bears the words in English: « European solidarity as it is ». The second caricature presents an allegory of sick Europe, lying on a bed, into which its torturers, the United States and the European Union, inject different substances entitled “neo-Nazism, “Russophobia” or “Covid-19”.

« We are trying to maintain a demanding channel of dialogue with Russia » but these « actions are perfectly inappropriate », it was added at the Quai d’Orsay. The Russian Embassy, ​​joined by AFP, confirmed that « the question of the tweet published had been raised, among other points » during the interview on Friday morning. This tweet, which appeared on Thursday, has since been removed. The Russian ambassador for his part « drew the attention of our French colleagues to the provocations and acts of vandalism against Russian diplomatic representations in France », she added.

Joe Biden arrived in Poland, not far from the Ukrainian border

Joe Biden landed this Friday afternoon in Rzeszow in Poland, 80 km from the border with Ukraine, for a long-awaited two-day visit to this allied country, a member of NATO and which sees an influx refugees fleeing war. Yes Air Force One landed shortly after 2 p.m. local time, the US president, wearing a suit but no tie, did not emerge until nearly an hour later. Polish President Andrzej Duda has indeed had, according to the White House, a « change of program » preventing him from welcoming his counterpart as planned, and leading the White House to change the agenda a little.

During the first hours of his two-day visit to Poland, Joe Biden was first to meet with American soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Rzeszow, then to hold a meeting on the humanitarian situation in and around Ukraine. Andrzej Duda was to join him for this second stage. The American president will then go to Warsaw for talks on Saturday with Polish leaders and a visit to a reception center for Ukrainian refugees who fled the Russian invasion of their country.

Joe Biden is due to conclude this visit, which takes place a month after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the war against Ukraine, on Saturday March 26, with a speech that the White House promises « major » and « significant ».

Talks with Moscow « very difficult », judges kyiv

Talks with Moscow are « very difficult », said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba, denying any agreement with Russia more than a month after the start of the Russian invasion. « The negotiation process is very difficult, » said the head of Ukrainian diplomacy in a statement, denying any « consensus » with Moscow at this stage.

Earlier in the day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured that Russia and Ukraine agreed on four out of six negotiating points. “There is no consensus with Russia on the four points mentioned by the President of Turkey”, underlined Dmytro Kouleba, welcoming however “the diplomatic efforts” of this country “aimed at ending the war”.

A « task force » to reduce European dependence on Russian gas

The United States and the European Union announced this Friday morning, March 25, the creation of a working group aimed at reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Washington will strive to supply Europe with an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) this year, under the initiative unveiled by US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen , according to a press release.

Germany, for its part, announced at the same time that it was going to sharply and quickly reduce its dependence on Russia’s energy resources, doing without its coal by the fall and its oil at the end of the year. For gas, Berlin could be « largely independent (…) by mid-2024 », he added.

Phosphorus bombs: the Kremlin denies any violation of international law

Russia denied on Friday any violation of international law after being accused by Ukraine of having used phosphorus bombs as part of its military intervention in this neighboring country. « Russia has never violated any international convention, » Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked by the press about the Ukrainian accusations.

For his part, the head of Russian diplomacy considered that European leaders were holding a speech with « Hitlerian » hints against Russia, targeted by heavy sanctions because of its offensive in Ukraine. “We have been declared a true total hybrid war. This term (total war, editor’s note) that Hitler’s Germany used is now used by many European politicians when they explain what they want to do with Russia”, said Sergei Lavrov, during a meeting with representatives of a Russian diplomatic foundation.

« They do not hide their goals: to destroy, break, annihilate, suffocate the economy and Russia as a whole, » the diplomat added.

Ukraine asks the EU to close its borders with Russia and Belarus

kyiv asked the European Union on Friday to close its borders with Russia and Belarus, an allied country of Moscow in the invasion led by the Russian army in Ukraine for a month. « The Ministry of Infrastructure proposes to the EU to completely block land and sea links with Russia and Belarus », indicated the Ukrainian ministry on Telegram, judging these « measures necessary » to « stop the supply to the aggressor country of goods dual purpose that can be used for military purposes ».

Around 300 feared dead in Mariupol theater strike

« Witnesses have information that about 300 people died in the Mariupol Drama Theater as a result of a bombing by a Russian plane. Until the end, we do not want to believe this horror. Until the end, we wants to believe that everyone is safe. But the testimonies of those who were inside the building at the time of this terrorist act say the opposite », writes the town hall of Mariupol on its Telegram account.

Russia claims to have destroyed Ukrainian army’s largest fuel reserve

Russia said on Friday morning that it had destroyed the Ukrainian army’s largest fuel reserve near kyiv the day before with cruise missiles. On Thursday evening, « high-precision Kalibr missiles targeted a fuel (storage) base near the village of Kalinovka, near kyiv, » Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. .

« The largest reserve of fuel remaining to the Ukrainian army, which was used to supply units in the central part of the country, has been destroyed, » he added. Igor Konashenkov further said that Russian forces had destroyed several Ukrainian military equipment since the day before, including three air defense systems and four drones. It was not possible to independently verify these claims.

Four civilians killed in Russian shelling of Kharkiv medical center

A Russian bombardment on a medical center in Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, left four dead and at least three injured, the regional police of the second city of the country announced on Friday. « Seven civilians were injured, four of whom succumbed to their injuries in a bombardment with multiple rocket launchers, » the police said on their Telegram channel, adding that the strike took place « around 6:45 a.m. » on « a medical center » in the south of Kharkiv.

The regional police said that a « humanitarian aid center » was not far from this medical center, where « there are no military installations nearby », according to it. Second largest city in Ukraine with nearly 1.5 million inhabitants before the war, Kharkiv is located about forty kilometers from the Russian border. It has been the target of heavy fighting since the start of the Russian invasion a month ago, but remains, at this stage, under the control of Ukrainian forces. « Investigators are working on the scene », the police also indicated, adding that they « gathered all the material evidence necessary to (then) bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice ».

More than 3.7 million refugees but the flow is slowing down

Nearly 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine and the fighting sparked by the Russian army invasion on February 24, according to the UN count published on Friday, which confirms the slowdown in the number of crossings in recent times. days. In total, more than ten million people, more than a quarter of the population, had to leave their homes. The UN estimates the number of internally displaced people in Ukraine at nearly 6.5 million.

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Since March 22, the number of people seeking to flee fighting and increasingly difficult living conditions in Ukraine has fallen below 100,000 people a day. Europe has not seen such a rapid influx of refugees since the Second World War.



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