“The price of the battle of the Donbas for us is very high. It is simply terrifying,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said in his speech delivered in the early morning of the 111th day of Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Fighting continues in Severodonetsk, Lugansk region: all bridges in the city have been destroyed, making it impossible to evacuate civilians, the head of the Lugansk region Military Administration, Serghiy Haidai, said on Monday.
Negotiations are underway to remove civilians from the Azot chemical plant, where about 500 civilians remain, 40 of them children, and it is feared that a situation similar to the one that occurred at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol may be repeated.
Diplomatic activity around the war continues, as French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting his country’s troops deployed in Romania on Tuesday.
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On the 111th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, here are the key and main developments.
Ukraine, a testing ground
Russia is using the invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, as a testing ground for researching new weapons that violate international law, assured the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense, Anna Maliar.
During the 24-hour national news broadcast on Ukrainian television, Maliar said that “the Russians are using on Ukrainian territory a wide range of weapons that are prohibited by international law.”
“And not only that: they are using some weapons for testing, for research. In fact, they are using the war to test new weapons, and all this applies here,” the deputy minister added.
The death of over 12,000 Ukrainians is being investigated
Ukrainian police have opened criminal proceedings to investigate the deaths of more than 12,000 Ukrainians, most of them found in mass graves, announced the head of the National Police, Ihor Klymenko.
In an interview with the local agency Interfax-Ukraine, the police chief assured that they are keeping 12,000 bodies, also found in mass graves, which have not yet been identified. We have “received reports and have opened the relevant criminal proceedings (to investigate) the deaths of more than 12,000 people, many of them found in mass graves,” Klymenko said.
He noted that more than 1,500 civilians were killed in the Kyiv region alone.
Russification of Ukraine
Zelensky on Monday denounced the blockade by the Russian army and called for communicating to the inhabitants of the occupied south that “there will be liberation,” although he admitted that in the battle in the Donbas the “price is terrifying.”
“We must understand that the occupiers hold the occupied territory not only in an information blockade. I would call it a civilizational blockade,” Zelensky said in his usual evening address.
The president accused Russia of trying “to make people not know anything about Ukraine and how we are trying to liberate our territory. They are trying to stop them from thinking about returning to normal life, forcing them to reconcile.”
Zelensky added that in some areas, the occupants are deliberately preventing the restoration of electricity supply. “They blocked communication. Our television is being turned off. They closed the exit of the occupation and simply do not allow even humanitarian corridors so that we can bring people at least basic goods and medicines,” he explained.
The Ukrainian president asked people who communicate with citizens in Donbas and in the Kharkiv region to “tell them the truth. Say that there will be liberation.”