The war in Ukraine has reached its 69th day with the spotlight on the first civilians to escape from Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks. The city of Zaporizhia has received the refugees who have arrived after a journey of just over 200 kilometers that has lasted two days through checkpoints and through combat territories.
They have been hidden for two months in the Azovstal steel mill, together with soldiers and fighters from the Azov battalion, barely seeing the light of the sun. This Sunday they managed to leave their hiding place thanks to one of the most complex operations of the war sponsored by the United Nations and the Red Cross. Municipal technicians, doctors and humanitarian organizations have coordinated in Zaporizhia to receive the convoy of the first evacuees, about a hundred.
The US believes that Russia plans an autonomy referendum for the creation of a People’s Republic of Kherson
It is one of the most delicate operations of the war so far, for whose success the agreement between Russia and Ukraine with the mediation of the United Nations, whose secretary general, Antonio Guterres, visited both countries last week. In the convoy that arrived in Zaporizhia were the first civilians who managed to leave the steel mill, but also refugees from the city and other Donbas municipalities. According to the mayor of Mariupol, Vadim Boichenko, there are still 200 people trapped in the metallurgical plant.
On the battlefront, kyiv ensures that the soldiers defending the south of the country have managed to stop the Russian offensive which intends to occupy the entire administrative region of Kherson, in the direction of Mykolaiv. “The enemy, fortified in defensive positions, did not carry out any active action in the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions (in the south of the country, where it controls large areas) during the last 24 hours,” assured the Ukrainian command positioned in the area.
“However, Mykolaiv and its surroundings have been attacked by multiple rocket launchers. The enemy once again fired on the industrial facilities. Fortunately, no casualties have been reported,” they added.
Meanwhile, Russian state news agencies have reported that there have been several explosions in the Russian city of Belgorod in recent hours. Moscow has repeatedly denounced attacks by the Ukrainian Army against the townlocated near the border and one of the main points for the supply of weapons and troops.
From Washington, the US State Department believes that Russia has plans to celebrate an autonomy referendum for the creation of a People’s Republic of Kherson, as well as the annexation of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, by the middle of this month of May. “This is straight out of the Kremlin playbook,” US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter has said, according to reports. New York Times.
Borrell is optimistic about the approval of the sixth package of EU sanctions on Russia
Carpenter has insisted on the need to stop the “criminal intentions” of the Kremlin and stressed that the United States and its partners continue to provide military support to Ukraine while sanctions continue to be applied to isolate Russia.
On this, the high representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has been optimistic about the approval of the sixth package of sanctions on Russia. The measures include more Russian banks outside the SWIFT system and will affect imports of Russian oil.
In an extraordinary meeting of energy ministers, the governments of Germany and Austria, until now reluctant, expressed their willingness to adopt a new package of sanctions that includes crude from Moscow. After that, Hungary remains the only country that still rejects it.