Battles for Mariupol – Russian troops continue to advance towards Kyiv

New York, Düsseldorf During the night of Sunday, fighting in Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia, concentrated on the southern Ukrainian port of Mariupol and the area around the capital Kyiv. Mariupol, besieged by Russian troops, reported dramatic conditions after a failed ceasefire. In addition, the Russian army continued to advance towards Kyiv and other cities, as the Ukrainian general staff said on Sunday morning.

President Volodymyr Zelensky once again called on the Ukrainians to resist. At the same time, the economic pressure on Moscow is growing: Mastercard and Visa are capping international credit card payments with Russia. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett started a mediation visit on Saturday and, after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, then met Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.

After more than a week of war, the two sides agreed on a ceasefire lasting several hours in Mariupol and a small town in the area on Saturday to allow civilians to flee. But the ceasefire was broken and the evacuation failed. Mariupol’s mayor Wadym Boitschenko then spoke on television of a “humanitarian blockade” of the city by Russian units.

There has been no electricity or heating for five days and problems with the water supply. The mayor said there were thousands injured and many dead after the shelling. He pleads for a corridor to be built to take the elderly, women and children out of the city.

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>> Read about this: The first evacuations have failed – what does the humanitarian corridor bring and what comes after it?

The Ukrainian general staff said on Sunday morning that the main focus of the Russian offensive, which has been ongoing since February 24, is still the encirclement of the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east and Mykolaiv in the south. Russian units attempted to penetrate the southwestern outskirts of Kyiv. They were also approaching the highway from the Kiev suburb of Brovary to Boryspil, where Kiev’s international airport is located. According to estimates by the Ukrainian army, Russia is planning to seize the dam of the Kaniv hydroelectric power station around 150 kilometers south of Kyiv on the Dnipro River.

Block of flats in Mariupol

The civilian population should be allowed to leave the city on Saturday morning. The project failed.

(Photo: via REUTERS)

In a video message, President Zelensky called on his compatriots to expel the Russian troops. “We have to go outside! We have to fight! Whenever there is an opportunity.” As in Kherson, Berdyansk or Melitopol, Ukrainians should go out “and drive this evil out of our cities”. In the past few days, there have been reports from the aforementioned Ukrainian cities that ordinary, unarmed people have opposed Russian units.

Israel tries to mediate

Attempts at international mediation in the war currently seem to be of little use. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett traveled to Moscow for talks with Putin on Saturday. According to Israeli sources, the meeting lasted three hours. Bennet also phoned Selenski. Results were not known. Bennet then came to Berlin for a one-and-a-half hour talk with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

>> Read about this: After Putin, Bennett also meets Scholz – is Israel slipping into the role of mediator?

After that, the German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit only said that the common goal remained to end the war in Ukraine “as quickly as possible”. We will work on that with all our might.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Bennett spoke to Vladimir Putin before his visit to Germany.

(Photo: dpa)

US President Joe Biden also spoke to Selenski on the phone. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected in the capital Chisinau on Sunday after his meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba for consultations with NATO ally Moldova. Further negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will not take place until Monday.

Putin previously sharpened his rhetoric towards the West and sharply criticized the punitive measures imposed. “These sanctions that are being imposed are tantamount to a declaration of war,” the Kremlin chief said in a televised speech on Saturday.

At the same time, at a meeting with Aeroflot employees, he warned NATO against setting up a no-fly zone for Ukraine. “In the same second we will consider them as participants in the military conflict,” said the Russian president. Any step in such a direction would be seen as an intervention that posed a threat to Russian troops, Putin threatened.


His speech to Aeroflot employees was televised.

(Photo: via REUTERS)

At least Putin put the brakes on a hot topic: he doesn’t see the conditions for declaring martial law within Russia. Such a situation requires external aggression or fighting in specific regions, Putin said on Saturday, according to Russian agencies in Moscow. He is also not planning a state of emergency. He countered the fears of many Russians.

Economic pressure on Russia

The USA, the EU and other western partners had imposed tough sanctions on Russia since the beginning of the war. Another blow from the private sector followed: the world’s two largest credit card providers, Visa and Mastercard, suspended business with Russia. Visa said it would stop all transactions in the coming days. After that, cards issued in Russia would no longer work abroad. Mastercard made a similar statement.

Both companies had previously stopped processing transactions for Russian banks affected by international sanctions. The Central Bank of Russia said the measures would not affect customers in Russia.

>> Read about this: Snakes like in the Soviet era – the war has arrived in the everyday life of the Russians

The Central Bank of Russia said in a statement that all Visa and Mastercard cards issued by Russian banks will continue to function in Russia until their expiration date. Their use is processed in the national payment card system, the sanctions do not affect them.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees in Germany

Before the war, tens of thousands of people continue to flee across the Ukrainian borders to the European Union every day. Around 830,000 made it to Poland alone, and tens of thousands to Germany. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) promised to accept people regardless of nationality.

Here you can find more Handelsblatt articles on the subject:

“We want to save lives. It doesn’t depend on the passport,” Faeser told the “Bild am Sonntag”. “The vast majority of refugees are Ukrainians. People from other countries who already had a permanent right of residence in Ukraine bring this status with them.”

She cited Indians who studied in Ukraine as an example. Faeser called the European cooperation in caring for the refugees “historic”. The Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) called for better coordination within Germany.

With agency material.

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