On the night of Wednesday to Thursday, Russia announced a ceasefire in Mariupol to evacuate civilians.
Today, Thursday, 36 days have passed since the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, leaving great destruction in Ukrainian cities as a result of the Russian bombing, in addition to hundreds of deaths and injuries, and the displacement of thousands of Ukrainians.
Russias Defense Ministry said on Wednesday its forces are regrouping near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv in order to focus on other key areas and complete the “liberation” of the breakaway region of Donbass, Russian news agencies reported.
The ministry statement came a day after Russia announced that it would scale back operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv to support progress in peace talks.
But Russian attacks at both sites continued on Wednesday, according to Reuters reporters near Kyiv and the mayor of Chernihiv. A Russian bombardment of a Red Cross building in the besieged port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine has been reported, Kyiv announced on Wednesday, as officials warned of an impending humanitarian disaster.
For his part, Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motozyanek said, on Wednesday, that the Russian forces in Ukraine are regrouping and preparing to resume offensive operations.
He added, “The main Russian efforts are focused on encircling the Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine,” noting that “Russia is still trying to control the coastal city of Mariupol in the south and the towns of Bubasna and Robyzhny.”
He continued, “Russia is preparing to resume offensive operations, and the leadership of the Ukrainian armed forces has detected movements of Russian forces outside the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, but it does not consider this a comprehensive withdrawal.”
Targeting the Red Cross
“In Mariupol, the occupiers targeted a building belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Ukrainian Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova said in a statement posted on social media, adding that the building was targeted with air and artillery strikes, quoting AFP.
The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed, on Wednesday, that the Russians intensified their activities around the town of Izyum, south of Kharkiv, after redeploying some units from other regions.
He added that the Russian forces intensified their bombing and attacks in the Donetsk region to the east, with a focus on trying to control Mariupol, Popasna and Robyzhny.
The Russian military said it had shifted its focus to the Donbass region, Ukraine’s industrial heartland to the east, where Moscow-backed separatists have been battling Ukrainian forces since 2014.
Chernihiv in northern Ukraine was also bombed “all night”, as the city’s governor announced, despite Moscow’s announcement that it would reduce its military activity in this region. Vyacheslav Chaus announced on “Telegram” that “Chernihiv was bombed all night” with artillery and aviation, explaining that civilian infrastructure had been destroyed, and that the city was still without electricity or water.
The governor of Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine, Sergey Gaidai, said on “Telegram”, that heavy artillery bombed residential areas in the city of Lyschansk on Wednesday morning. He said: “A number of high-rise buildings were damaged. Information about the victims is being verified.. Many buildings have collapsed. Rescuers are trying to save those who are still alive.”
The Russian Defense Ministry announced that its forces destroyed large fuel depots in the Khmelnytskyi district of western Ukraine, which were used to provide fuel for armored vehicles of the Ukrainian forces in the Donbass.
Russian Defense Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a press statement that the fuel depots were targeted by air-launched high-precision missiles, and a Su-24 of the Ukrainian Air Force was shot down during an air battle in the Rivne region near the Ukrainian-Belarus border. Russian air defenses destroyed 10 Ukrainian drones across the country in a day.
He noted that the Russian air force and tactical missiles hit 64 military facilities in Ukraine in the last 24 hours.
The deputy governor of Kyiv said that the sound of shelling was heard outside Kyiv all night, but the Ukrainian capital itself was not bombed by Russian forces. The Ukrainian authorities also reported that the Russian bombardment yesterday targeted industrial facilities in the Khmelnytskyi region.
This comes as the British Ministry of Defense stated that the Russian units suffered heavy losses in Ukraine and retreated to Belarus to reorganize their ranks, noting that Russia will maneuver and focus in the coming period on artillery and missile shelling.
After making progress in the peace talks in Istanbul yesterday, Russia announced yesterday, that it It will reduce its military operations in Kyiv and ChernihivNoting that reducing its combat operations in Ukraine aims to create a suitable atmosphere for negotiations, and that the Russian forces will focus on achieving the main goal, which is the liberation of the Donbass region, but the Pentagon Doubt that ad.
The Pentagon said Russia had repositioned “a small number” of its forces near Kyiv, but had not withdrawn and may be preparing for a “major offensive” elsewhere in Ukraine.
“We’re seeing a small number of (Russian soldiers) who now seem to be moving away from Kyiv, the same day the Russians said they were pulling out,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Kirby was speaking just hours after Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Furmin announced that Russia would reduce its military operations towards Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv.
“Russia has failed in its goal of capturing Kyiv,” Kirby said, but “this does not mean that the threat surrounding Kiev is over.”
“We are not ready to call this a retreat or even a withdrawal,” he said, explaining, “We think that what they probably have in mind is repositioning to strengthen another site.”
“There has been an increase in offensive activity” by Russian forces in the breakaway region of Donetsk, he added.
While Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the achievement of the goals of the first phase of the offensive, which began on February 24, the Ukrainian authorities announced the restoration of the Irbin suburb, but it was completely destroyed.
Yesterday, Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported the destruction of a major Ukrainian refueling base in the Rivne region, confirming the destruction of 68 Ukrainian military installations, and 3 marches within one day, noting that about 600 foreign mercenaries had been killed in Ukraine during the past two weeks.