Zelenskyy Says Retreating Russian Forces are BoobyTrapping …

As reports of likely civilian deaths in regions occupied by the invading forces surfaced, Ukraine claims to have retaken control of the Kyiv region and that Russian troops have retreated from the area around the capital and Chernigiv city.

At least 20 dead bodies, including one with his wrists tied, were seen by AFP reporters on a single street in the hamlet of Bucha near the capital city, and the body of a missing photojournalist was found in a neighbouring village.

Zelenskyy Says Retreating Russian Forces are BoobyTrapping ...

Anatoly Fedoruk, mayor of Bucha, told AFP, “All these victims were shot.” He also said that 280 more dead had been buried in mass graves around town.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, it was announced that Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania would no longer buy any natural gas from Russia in an effort to increase economic pressure on the country.

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Russia seems to be shifting its attention from the north to the east and south of Ukraine, where it already controls large swaths of land.

To what end are the Russian armed forces fighting? They intend to take over Donbass and the south of Ukraine,” Zelensky declared in a video speech late on Saturday. Why are we doing this?

To protect our independence, our homeland, and our people. Mykhaylo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, warned on social media that “without heavy weaponry we would not be able to drive (Russia) out.”

More than five weeks into Europe’s bloodiest conflict in decades, Ukrainian officials gave civilians some good news on Saturday by claiming success against the Russians.

As deputy defence minister Ganna Maliar phrased it on Facebook, “Irpin, Bucha, Gostomel, and the whole Kyiv region were liberated from the invader.” These are all towns that have been severely damaged or devastated by the war.

On February 24, Putin sent tanks into Russia’s pro-Western neighbour, and according to estimates from Ukraine, the conflict has already claimed the lives of 20,000 people.

There have been Almost 10 Million Forced Evacuees.

As he began his visit to Malta on Saturday, Pope Francis brought up the issue and appeared to make a thinly veiled reference to Putin when he spoke of “icy winds of war” again blowing over Europe.

The pope stated, “Once again, some potentate, unhappily caught up in archaic claims of nationalist interests, is stirring and fomenting problems,” adding that he was still planning a visit to the capital of Ukraine.

A Reporter was Slain with ‘Two Shots.’

On Saturday, Ukrainian police announced that the body of famous photographer Maks Levin had been discovered near a village in the area around Kyiv that had been caught up in the fighting.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Levin was the sixth journalist murdered in the war.

The prosecution claims that Levin, who was unarmed, “was slain by servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces with two shots from small fire weaponry.” The body of Levin, a 40-year-old father of four, was discovered on April 1. He had been reported missing on March 13.

Bucharest police discovered 20 bodies on one street, 16 of them were on the ground. Three of them were lying in the road, and a fourth was on his side in the yard of a home that had been levelled.

Romania’s capital city’s mayor, Fedoruk, blamed the Russian occupation for the current state of affairs. Some ladies were spotted sobbing as they waited outside their homes while Ukrainian troops patrolled the devastated town in armoured vehicles and on foot.

Multiple Western politicians, including Vice President Joe Biden of the United States, have called Vladimir Putin a “war criminal,” and the International Criminal Court has begun an investigation into suspected war crimes committed in Ukraine.

As well, on Saturday, hundreds of Russians gathered in cities and towns around the country to demonstrate against the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In total, OVD-Info, an organisation that tracks arrests, said that police detained 211 people across multiple locations, including over 20 people in a Moscow park during a snowstorm.

Mariupol’s resilience in the face of weeks of deadly Russian assaults has impeded Moscow’s efforts to solidify its control over the south and east of Ukraine.

Russia is being Accused of Setting up Mines.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned his people that fleeing Russian forces were leaving mines throughout “the whole territory,” including near homes and dead bodies.

His warning that “they are mining the whole territory” came as he reported that Russian forces were slowly pulling back. In order to survive, they are mining everything they can get their hands on, including houses, tools, and even human remains. Many trip wires and other hazards must be avoided.

He also refused on Saturday (AEDT) to confirm or deny if he had ordered an airstrike on Russian territory, even as a convoy of buses made its way via a perilous evacuation route to aid thousands of people escape the beleaguered city of Mariupol.

The Kremlin expressed concern that the helicopter attack on a gasoline station in the town of Belgorod would derail the peace discussions between Ukrainian and Russian officials, which had resumed by video.

According to an AFP reporter in the area, Zaporizhzhia was relieved to see the arrival of dozens of buses carrying fatigued evacuees from Mariupol and other Russian-occupied areas in southeast Ukraine.

Those on board came from all over: besieged Mariupol, Berdiansk, and Melitopol.

Some of the refugees wept with joy upon seeing Ukrainian flags flying again as the buses drew into a shopping mall on the outskirts of Zaporizhzhia, more than 200 kilometres to the northwest.

When we finally made it here, we were inconsolable. Olena, holding her young daughter in her arms, explained that she and her husband had been brought to tears upon seeing Ukrainian crests on the sleeves of the soldiers at the checkpoint.

“They tore down my house. Visual evidence was available to me. The city we once called home no longer exists.

As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the city of Mariupol has been nearly completely destroyed, and its inhabitants have been left without access to basic necessities including food, water, and heat.

It became “difficult to proceed,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday, forcing its rescue convoy to turn around. A second attempt to evacuate the area is planned for this coming Saturday, it was reported.

There are still about 160,000 people thought to be stuck in the southeastern port city after repeated evacuation attempts failed. However, some brave souls have undertaken the perilous sprint to freedom on their own.

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, verified Friday in a video address uploaded on Telegram that 42 buses had travelled from Berdiansk to Mariupol, safely evacuating their passengers. She also noted that 771 additional Mariupol locals had made their own way to Zaporizhzhia.

Believe and know that we are with you,” Vereshchuk stated.

The Exodus of Ukrainians Continues

Helena, her husband, and their two children were watching TV when the news came on that Russia had invaded Ukraine.

She remembered that as she grabbed her children outside the Lviv train station in western Ukraine, they had initially thought “this is horrible” but were actually fine there. “Maybe this will be like in the east of the country where there has been fighting for eight years,” she said.

Several days later, they looked out their window to see Russian artillery pounding an adjacent neighbourhood, first targeting an apartment building, then another down the street, and finally another across the street.

We had no idea why they were bombing houses, but we got out of there in 30 minutes with what we could carry, and now we’re stuck here and don’t know what to do.

Later, She’d find out that her Own Structure had been Hit.

After a month of fighting, over four million Ukrainians have been uprooted and are at a loss as to what to do or where to go. Most people departed hastily, taking only what they could carry.

Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Mariupol—the country’s three most media-saturated cities—are hardly the only ones experiencing hardship.

All the signs of a post-apocalyptic world—torn clothing, vacant looks, and people walking through rubble—are present, but this has transpired in just over 30 days and is quite real.

Many Ukrainians fled the country, but some still remain, looking dishevelled as they make their way through the rubble of their once-thriving cities and towns in an attempt to survive the bitter cold and the widespread destruction. Burning structures are surrounded by a blanket of snow, making it difficult to see where the ash is.

People weep for their own lives that have been cut short as they pass the bodies of strangers who have died on the streets and are still lying where they fell, covered only by an old bed sheet or a layer of snow.

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Cities in Desolation

Drone footage illustrates the scope of the destruction, but the flyovers can’t portray the emotion of destroyed lives on the ground. The Russian military is still shelling the area, for whatever reason. It will take at least a generation to recover from that kind of mental damage.

In the early days of the conflict, the Kyiv government provided a running tally of the civilian buildings and infrastructure being destroyed across the country. At first, this was done by address, then by institution like a school or hospital, and eventually, the war’s impact was so widespread that it was simply reported by city.

Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, damage estimates have ranged from conservatively estimated $83 billion to upwards of $110 billion due to the destruction or severe damage of 4431 residential buildings, 92 factories/warehouses, 378 educational institutions, 138 healthcare facilities, 11 shopping malls, 12 civilian airports, and seven thermal and or hydro-electric power plants.

The Kyiv School of Economics estimates that by 2037, life and the economy could return to normal if restoration began tomorrow with limitless funding and people. The cost to Ukrainian society is unimaginable.