Dozens were missing Sunday in the wake of the bombing of eastern Ukraine, where the Russian offensive is focused, on the eve of celebrations for victory over Nazi Germany.
The last fighters holed up in Mariupol showed their determination to hold on, on this 74th day of the war in Ukraine, despite the fear of a final attack on the eve of the commemoration of the victory over Nazi Germany in Moscow.
60 people were killed in the bombing of a school
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said eastern Ukraine was particularly affected this weekend by the bombing of a school on Saturday that killed 60 people.
“Just yesterday, in the village of Belogorivka, in the Lugansk region, a Russian bomb killed 60 civilians,” the Ukrainian president said during a video intervention at the G7 summit. He added: “They were trying to find shelter in the building of an ordinary school, which was targeted by a Russian air strike.”
“An air bomb hit a school and 60 people were killed under the rubble,” Lugansk region governor Sergei Gaidai told Russia’s Current Time television. “There are always very strong blows to Belogorivka,” he added.
He said that in the Donetsk region, Russian forces continued their offensive operations around Lyman, Babasnyansky, Severodonetsk and Avdiivka. And that the situation was “tense” on the part of Moldova.
Azovstal army does not want to “surrender”
Ukrainian soldiers holed up for several weeks in the underground galleries of huge steelworks in Azovstal, the last bastion of resistance against the Russian army in the devastated (southeast) port of Mariupol, announced on Sunday that they had ruled out a return.
“Surrender is not an option because Russia is not interested in our lives. They don’t care about leaving us alive,” Ukrainian intelligence officer Ilya Samoylenko said during a news conference broadcast on the video. From the basements of the industrial site, he added, “All our supplies are limited. The water is left. We have ammunition left. We will carry our weapons. We will fight until the best outcome of this situation.”
And Ilya Samoyenko, who spoke sometimes Ukrainian and sometimes English during the conference, added: “We, the soldiers of the Mariupol garrison, witnessed the war crimes committed by Russia, by the Russian army. We are the witnesses.”
For several weeks, Mariupol was almost entirely under Russian control. Only the huge Azovstal steel plants escaped from him, which the Russian army relentlessly bombed, as well as major attacks on the ground at the beginning of fierce battles.
Volodymyr Zelensky says “evil has returned” to Europe
Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video recorded on May 8, claimed that “evil has returned” to Europe, and compared the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the aggression of Nazi Germany against European countries, in a speech on the anniversary of World War II.
“Decades after the Second World War, it’s dark over Ukraine and it’s black and white again,” the Ukrainian president said in a black-and-white video in front of destroyed apartment buildings.
“Evil has returned with different clothes and under different slogans, but with the same goal,” he added in the video, subtitled in English, and provides archival footage from the last global conflict as well as black and white photos of the Russian invasion.
The Ukrainian leader compares the bombing of European cities by Nazi Germany to the bombing of his country by Russia. He accused Moscow of carrying out a “bloody reconstruction of Nazism” using its “ideas, actions, words and symbols” and repeating its “atrocities” while giving justifications “aimed at making this evil a sacred goal.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, asserted that “as in 1945, victory will be ours,” redoubled comparisons between World War II and the conflict in Ukraine in accordance with his wishes on May 8.
The Group of Seven major countries committed to stop buying Russian oil
“The entire G7 pledged today to ban or halt imports of Russian oil,” the White House said in a statement on Sunday.
This decision “would deal a blow to the main artery that fuels (Vladimir) Putin’s economy and deprive him of the income he needs to fund his war” on Ukraine, says the US executive.
However, her press release does not specify exactly the commitments made by each of the G7 members, namely Germany (which holds the presidency this year), Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.
The Group of Seven held its third meeting of the year via videoconference on Sunday with the participation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In a statement, member states condemned Vladimir Putin’s actions, which “cover up Russia and the historical sacrifices of its people with disgrace.”
Important Guests in Ukraine
Three guests, from the worlds of politics and culture, attended on Sunday in Ukraine.
Her spokeswoman said Jill Biden made a surprise, brief visit to Ukraine, and met her Ukrainian counterpart, Olena Zelenska in Uzhhorod, at a school near the Slovak border. The first lady of the United States was in Slovakia this week, partly to meet the families of Ukrainian refugees, and her entry into Ukraine was kept secret until the last minute.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to Irbin on the outskirts of Kyiv, a city devastated by fierce fighting between the Ukrainian and Russian armies, before it was occupied in March by the Russians, Oleksandr Markushin, the city’s mayor, announced on Telegram. Justin Trudeau’s visit to Ukraine was also unannounced. He must meet with President Zelensky and “reaffirm our unwavering support for the Ukrainian people”, for their part indicated his services.
Finally, Bono sang along with U2 guitarist ‘The Edge’ in a show at a central metro station in Kyiv, where the band’s leader also recited his ‘Peace’ prayer. From the podium of the Kyiv metro station, the 61-year-old rock icon sang the classic U2 songs “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “Desire” and “With or without you”.
“The people of Ukraine are not only fighting for your freedom, you are fighting for all of us who love freedom,” Bono said during a break.
The singer also mentioned past conflicts in the band’s homeland of Ireland and the problems she had with a more powerful neighbor.