On Tuesday, civilians in eastern Ukraine were fleeing before Russia was expected to launch an attack, while Kiev said they were checking reports of the use of chemical weapons by Russian troops in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
The battle of Mariupol is entering a decisive stage, and the Ukrainian Marines are hiding in the azovstar industrial zone.
If the Russians occupy azovstar, they will completely control Mariupol, which is the key between the East and west regions controlled by the Russians. The city has been leveled by weeks of Russian bombing, which could kill thousands of civilians.
Hanna malyar, Deputy Minister of defense, said the government was verifying unverified information that Russia may have used chemical weapons during the siege of Mariupol.
“There is a theory that these could be phosphorus bombs,” maryar said in a television commentary.
In a speech early Wednesday morning, Ukrainian President volodmir Zelensky said it was impossible to draw a 100% positive conclusion on whether the Russian army used chemical weapons in Mariupol, and pointed out that it was impossible to conduct an appropriate investigation there.
Zelensky said that what he said about the repeated threats by some people in Russia to use chemical weapons means that the West needs to take immediate action to prevent the deployment of such weapons. He gave no details.
Mykhailo podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, wrote on twitter that the Ukrainian army defending Mariupol was in short supply.
“Our soldiers are still blocked and there are problems with supplies,” podoliac wrote He pointed out that Zelensky and the Ukrainian general staff are trying to “find solutions and help our people.” He didn’t give details for operational reasons.
U.S. not able to confirm reports, Blinken says
Secretary of state Anthony Blinken delivered a speech on the report of the use of chemical weapons by the Queen Mary. Blinken told reporters: “we can not prove anything, I think Ukrainian people can not be confirmed.”
“But what I want to say is that we have reliable information that the Russian army may use various riot agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, which will lead to more serious symptoms and weaken… The ability of Ukrainian combatants and civilians as part of the aggression in upol, Mali”.
Blinken said the United States shared this information with Ukraine and other partners. “We are in direct dialogue with our partners to try to determine what actually happened,” he said.
The 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the production, use and stockpiling of chemical weapons. Although condemned by human rights organizations, white phosphorus is not prohibited by the chemical weapons convention.
Earlier, the United States and Britain said they were trying to verify the reports. James heappey, Britain’s junior defense secretary, said in London that if Russia used chemical weapons, “all options are on the table” in response.
Pavlo Kirilenko, governor of the eastern region of Donetsk, said he had seen reports of the possible use of chemical weapons in Mariupol, but could not confirm it.
He told CNN: “we know that around midnight last night, a drone dropped some hitherto unknown explosive devices. There were three people in and around the Mariupol metal plant. They began to feel uncomfortable.”.
He said they were taken to hospital and their lives were not in danger.
Asked about the total number of deaths in Mariupol, Kirilenko said, “we are currently discussing 20-22000 deaths,” adding that the number needs to be checked very carefully.
Russians redoubling efforts in east
The Russian Defense Ministry has yet to respond to a request for comment from Reuters. According to Interfax news agency, the separatist forces in the East supported by Russia denied the use of chemical weapons in Mariupol.
But if it turns out to be true, it will mark that the war has left traces of death and destruction since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops across the border on February 24, which will be a dangerous new development.
About a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people were forced to leave their homes, leaving cities in ruins and thousands of casualties, many of them civilians.
Putin called it a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarization and “decolonization” of Ukraine, but it has aroused condemnation and warning in the west, which has implemented a series of sanctions to squeeze the Russian economy.
After their troops were in trouble in the face of Ukrainian resistance, the Russians temporarily abandoned their attempt to occupy the capital Kiev. But they are redoubling their efforts in the East, and the Ukrainian army is digging to face a new attack.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Lugansk region, urged residents to evacuate using five humanitarian corridors that agreed to lead to the East.
“It’s much more terrible to be burned to death by Russian shells in your sleep,” he wrote on the telegraph messaging app. “Evacuate, the situation is deteriorating every day. Take your necessities and go to the pick-up point.”
Deputy Prime Minister Irina vereshchuk of Ukraine said that a total of nine humanitarian corridors were agreed on Tuesday, including a private car for Mariupol.
Meanwhile, a cooking school near the airport in Ukraine’s second largest city was attacked on Tuesday, destroying the building and other nearby buildings, according to the Associated Press reporter at the scene.
It is unclear what hit Kharkov’s building. Witnesses described a loud noise after the explosion. No deaths have been reported.
Ukrainian officials said that the fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Victor Medvedev Chuk, a former leader of the pro Russian opposition party and a close partner of Putin, was detained in a special operation conducted by the SBU secret service of the country.
Ivan bakanov, director of Ukraine’s national security agency, said on the agency’s Telegraph channel that Medvedev had been arrested. Not long ago, Zelensky posted a picture of Medvedev Chuk in handcuffs and camouflage clothes with patches of the Ukrainian flag on social media.
Medvedev Chuk is the former leader of the opposition platform of the pro Russian Party – for life. Before the war began, he was under house arrest and disappeared shortly after the outbreak of hostilities.
Putin is the godfather of Medvedev’s youngest daughter.
Earlier, Zelensky asked the west to provide more weapons to help end its siege of Mariupol and repel Russia’s expected attack in the East.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get as much as we needed to end the war faster… Especially to lift the blockade on Mariupol,” he said.
After the withdrawal of Russian troops from the outskirts of Kiev, war crimes charges were exposed, including the execution and rape of civilians. Moscow denied that these allegations were provocations by Ukraine and the west, and accused the Ukrainian army of sexual violence.
Sima bahus, a senior UN official, told the Security Council on Monday that although all allegations must be independently investigated, “the atrocities against Ukrainian civilians have attracted the attention of all parties.”
“We hear more and more about rape and sexual violence,” she said.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations denied the allegations and accused Ukraine and its allies of “clearly deliberately listing Russian soldiers as sadists and rapists”
The Russian Defense Ministry said the United States instructed the Ukrainian government to disseminate false evidence of Russian violence against civilians, although it said Moscow had taken “unprecedented measures to save civilians”
Electricity grid targeted by hackers, Ukraine says
Meanwhile, Ukraine said on Tuesday that it had thwarted attempts by Russian hackers to damage its power grid through cyber attacks last week.
“This is a group of military hackers,” said government spokesman Victor Zora. “Their aim is to disable many facilities, including substations.
“They didn’t succeed. We’re investigating.”
Kiev blamed the attack on an organization called “sand bug” by researchers, which had previously been related to cyber attacks launched by Russia. Zhuola said the attack may be to support Russian military activities in eastern Ukraine.
Russian officials were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday. Moscow has denied allegations of cyber attacks against Ukraine.