The war in Ukraine has reached its 88th day, and the exchange of prisoners and the resumption of negotiations are the key factors.
The Russian negotiators deny that they have opened the possibility of an exchange of prisoners between the fighters of the Azov battalion and the pro-Russian oligarch Medvedchuk . And if Zelensky links the fate of military heroes to the peace negotiations themselves, Moscow wants to try the prisoners.
The Russians have meanwhile accelerated on the propaganda, spreading images of Azov soldiers, after the surrender, who parade half-naked, in order to show the tattoos of some of them with Nazi symbols.
The leader of the pro-Russian Donetsk separatists, Denis Pushlin, threatened: "A trial of the Ukrainian Azovstal fighters before a Russian court will be inevitable because the citizens ask for it." Zelensky , for his part, said: “The resumption of negotiations will take place only if the Russians save the lives of Mariupol's defenders. Without an exchange of prisoners, there will be no negotiations ”.
In a call to Zelensky, Draghi assured "Italy's constant support also for approving the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, unblocking ports and for Kiev's entry into the EU".
Meanwhile, Moscow has disclosed a list of 963 US citizens who are banned from entering Russia: among them also President Biden, Mark Zuckerberg and actor Morgan Freeman.
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The day by the hour:
Finland: "Optimistic about the agreement with Turkey in a few weeks"
"I am optimistic that the problems" with Turkey on Finland's accession to NATO "will be resolved, but it will take some time", it could be "a matter of weeks". This was stated by the Finnish Foreign Minister, Pekka Haavisto, in an interview with state TV Yle, explaining that Helsinki could guarantee Ankara a more careful monitoring of the presence of Kurdish militants in its territory. "Since the PKK is an organization on the list of terrorist organizations in Europe, it is important that we too do our part to avoid terrorist activities on Finnish soil."
Kiev: "Severodonetsk is turning into a new Mariupol"
The Russians are concentrating their forces on the assault on the Lugansk city Severodonetsk which "is turning into a new Mariupol". The Ukrainian commissioner for human rights of the Verkhovna Rada Lyudmila Denisova denounced this on Telegram, reports Ukrinform. "Enemy attacks are constantly carried out in many areas and settlements are bombed by artillery rockets and skeet systems. The enemy has concentrated all its forces on the assault on Severodonetsk, on the outskirts of which battles are constantly taking place. . The city is turning into a new Mariupol, "he said.
Paris: "Ukraine in the EU will take 15-20 years"
For Ukraine to join the EU it will take "15 or 20 years, it will be very long". This was stated by the new French minister for European Affairs, Clement Beaune, saying that in the meantime he could join the European political community proposed by President Emmanuel Macron.
Minsk: "Ukrainian sabotage groups in Belarusian territory"
Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council Oleksandr Wolfovych said that "Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups" have entered the territory of Belarus. The state media in Minsk reported this, according to which there are about 20 thousand Ukrainian troops deployed near the border with Belarus, distributed between the regions of Rivne, Kiev and Chernihiv. In recent days, Minsk announced the strengthening of its border security units and the purchase of the Russian S-400 and Iskander missile systems.
Kiev: "Give us heavy weapons and we unlock the Black Sea"
"Dialogue with a country that has taken hundreds of millions of people hostage? We have a better idea: the world must agree on the transfer of MLRS systems (multiple rocket launchers) and other heavy weapons needed by Ukraine to unblock the Sea Black. Then we will do everything. ”Ukrainian chief negotiator Mikhailo Podoliak wrote on Twitter about the food emergency after the blockade of Ukrainian grain in ports by the Russians.
Duda: "Only Kiev can decide on its future"
Ukraine must be able to decide its own future. This was stated by the Polish president in his speech to the Ukrainian parliament. "Worrying rumors have been heard that Ukraine should give in to Putin's demands. Only Ukraine has the right to decide on its own future," said Andrzej Duda according to the Guardian. The Polish president is the first European leader to deliver a speech in person to the Ukrainian Parliament since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Russians hit homes and schools in Donetsk, 7 dead
Russians fired on civilian homes and structures in the Donetsk region, with 7 people killed in attacks on the villages of Bakhmut, Soledar, Avdiyivka, Sviatohirsk, Mykolayivka, Toretsk, Zalizne, Raigorodok, Lastochkine, Pervomaiske, Yarova, Salt. This was reported by the Ukrainian national police, according to Ukrinform. "Occupants fired on 12 settlements. There were killed and injured. More than 40 homes, a school, a music school, an institute, businesses and life support facilities were destroyed." It was reported that the Russians fired from planes, tanks, heavy artillery and multiple Hail rocket launchers.
Kiev: "Cluster ammunition against village near Kharkiv"
The Russians use cluster shells against the Dergachiv community in the Kharkiv region using tanks and helicopters in the combat zone. The head of the community of Dergachiv Vyacheslav Zadorenko denounced it on Facebook, as reported by Ukrinform. "The enemy uses cluster shells in both settlements and villages on the front line and strikes with tanks, mortars, launches missiles from helicopters," Zadorenko said.
Kiev: "Russians try to encircle Severodonetsk"
The Russians are attempting to break through to Severodonetsk from four directions but have been pushed back for now. This was reported by the head of the Lugansk regional military administration, Sergey Gaidai, as reported by UNIAN. The frontline city in Lugansk is now at risk of encirclement after 12 people were killed and another 40 injured by Russian bombing, Gaiday added.
Zelensky: "Situation in Donbass extremely difficult"
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the situation in the Donbass as "extremely difficult" in his latest national speech, quoted by the Guardian.
One thousand apartments in the Kharkiv region affected
Heavy toll from Friday's Russian missile attack on Lozova, in the eastern region of Kharkiv: over a thousand apartments and 11 school facilities hit. Seven people were injured in the attack, including an 11-year-old boy.
Kiev, risk of attacks from Belarus: offensive on the east
In the north of Ukraine, "in the Volyn and Polissya directions, the units of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus have intensified reconnaissance and the deployment of additional electronic reconnaissance means in the border areas of the Gomel region has been noted". This was highlighted by the General Staff of the Kiev Armed Forces in the latest update, specifying that "there is a threat of missile and air attacks on the territory of Ukraine from the territory of the Republic of Belarus".