“They are mining the whole territory, they are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed.”
Having failed to take Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Russia is abandoning its offensive in the north and swinging its main military thrust to the east of the country, news reports on Saturday suggest.
“Russia has revised its campaign plan after a month where it failed to seize Kyiv and other cities,” the BBC reported Saturday morning. “Russia’s main operations are now concentrated on eastern Ukraine – where it wants to capture the entire Donestsk and Luhansk regions.”
The shift in the Russian tactic has been acknowledged by the government in Kyiv. “Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky says a pullout of Russian troops is ‘slow but noticeable’ in the north,” the UK broadcaster added.
“Russian forces around Kyiv and in northeastern Ukraine seek to conduct a retrograde action—the orderly withdrawal of combat forces—for refit and further redeployment to other axes of advance,” the Washington D.C.-based think-tank Institute of War noted in a assessment released on Friday.
When the Kremlin ordered the invasion of Ukraine five weeks ago, Russia’s main military objective was the toppling of President Zelensky’s government in Kyiv. On February 24, as Russian ground forces began their march on the Ukrainian capital, President Vladimir Putin call upon the Ukrainian military to oust their elected leaders and “take power in your own hands.”
With the Ukrainian armed forces and civilian conscripts blocking the advance of the Russian armored columns in the north, the hopes of swift ‘regime change’ in Kyiv now appear to have been abandoned by the Russian war planners.
President Zelensky: Retreating Russian Troops Leaving Behind Booby Traps
Ukraine’s President Zelensky accused the retreating Russian forces of laying booby traps in residential areas. The Russians were putting mines around abandoned homes and even human corpses, he warned in a video address to the nation.
German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported Ukrainian leader’s claims:
Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has warned his nation that retreating Russian troops were creating a “complete disaster” outside Kyiv as they leave mines across “the whole territory.”
“They are mining the whole territory, they are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed,” he said in a video address to the nation late on Friday.
His warning comes as the humanitarian crisis in the port city of Mariupol intensifies, with Russian forces blocking evacuation operations for the second day in a row.
Russia Laments Ukrainian Cross-Border Strike of Oil Depot
After 37 days of fighting — which saw widespread destruction of cities and towns across Ukraine, Moscow is accusing the Ukrainian armed forces of conducting an airstrike on Russian soil. Ukrainian helicopters struck a fuel supply depot located 21 miles into the Russian border, the Russian government claimed on Friday.
Kyiv denied having carried out any cross-border strike, accusing Russia of staging a ‘false flag’ operation to derail any peace effort. “Ukraine is currently conducting a defensive operation against Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine, and this does not mean that Ukraine is responsible for every catastrophe on Russia’s territory,” a Ukraine defense ministry spokesperson said.
British TV Channel SkyNews reported the Russian claim:
Russia has accused Ukraine of carrying out an airstrike on an oil depot in Belgorod, a Russian city close to the Ukrainian border.
This is the first accusation of a Ukrainian airstrike on Russian soil since the war between the two countries began on 24 February.
A number of videos appearing to show an airstrike and the depot on fire have been shared widely on social media.
Russia Lauds India for Supportive Stance
India’s position on the Ukraine conflict has earned Moscow’s praise. Visiting Russian Foreign Minister lauded New Delhi for toeing the Russian line and not joining the U.S. and the West in condemning the invasion of Ukraine.
As I noted in my Thursday’s op-ed in the Kyiv Post, “New Delhi has failed to take a . . . principled stance. India’s official position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine mirrors that of China.”
The Associated Press reported the Russian foreign minister’s praise for the Indian stand:
Russia’s foreign minister lauded India for not judging in a “one-sided way” as he discussed Moscow’s military involvement in Ukraine with his Indian counterpart on Friday, after Washington urged New Delhi to use its leverage with Russia to end the war.
Lavrov praised India for judging “the situation in its entirety, not just in a one-sided way.” (…)
Lavrov also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and briefed him on the situation in Ukraine, including ongoing peace negotiations, the Indian foreign ministry said.
Modi did not meet with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during their recent visits to New Delhi.
India is dependent on Russian arms supplies, roughly two-thirds of India’s military equipment is of Soviet or Russian origin. New Delhi also eyes cheap Russian oil in the wake of U.S. and Western sanctions on the Putin regime.DONATE
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