- Ukraine’s Zelenskiy vows to ‘destroy’ Russia in Bakhmut
- Bakhmut has seen the hardest fighting of the war.
- ICC to seek arrest warrants for Russian officials: source
- Russia says Black Sea grains deal will be automatically extended
NEAR KREMINNA, Ukraine, March 14 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s future depends on the outcome of battles in the east, including in and around Bakhmuth, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said. city.
Bakhmut has become the focus of the invasion of Russia, with the months-long fighting becoming the bloodiest infantry battle in Europe since World War II.
“It’s very hard in the east, very painful,” Zelenskiy said in his late-night video address, which has been held every night since Russia launched its invasion more than a year ago.
“We have to destroy the enemy’s military power. And we will destroy it.”
kyiv and Moscow gave different versions of the negotiations to extend the Black Sea grain dealset up last year to prevent world famine by securing wartime exports from Ukraine and Russia, both among the world’s top food suppliers.
The deal, negotiated by the United Nations and Turkey, is due to expire this week. Russia said it had been extended by 60 days, but Ukraine said the deal required any extension to last 120 days. Turkey said the talks were still ongoing.
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In what would be the first international war crimes cases stemming from the invasion, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected to seek arrest of Russian officials for forcibly deporting children from Ukraine and attacking civilian infrastructure, a source told Reuters.
The Kremlin said the court has no jurisdiction over Russia.
Moscow would surely reject arrest warrants against its officials, but an international prosecution for war crimes could deepen its diplomatic isolation over a campaign that has killed thousands of civilians and driven millions from their homes.
On the battlefront, Ukrainian soldiers said Monday they were repelling attacks near Kreminna, north of Bakhmut.
In a forest about 5 miles (8 km) from the front, guns were rumbling and explosions rumbled steadily in the distance.
A soldier was brought in from the front with a wounded leg. He was stabilized in a van with a splint and painkillers before being taken to a medical facility.
“We stabilized the patient as much as possible,” said 35-year-old doctor Mykhailo Anest, as a huge explosion was heard. “That means bandaging, checking tourniquets if they were applied, giving pain relievers, treating infections, giving infusions… We do all of this so that once our patient reaches the point of stabilization, they are as stable as possible.”
Across the front lines in Volnovakha, a Russian-controlled town to the south, the body of a woman lay in a street next to a dilapidated shop. A Russian military investigator told Reuters the area had come under Ukrainian shelling.
Trench warfare, described by both sides as a meat grinder, has claimed a large toll in Bakhmut, with both sides reporting hundreds of enemy troops killed every day. Neither side gives regular figures for their own casualties.
Russia says taking Bakhmut would open a path to capture all of the surrounding Donetsk province, a central objective of the war. Ukraine, which has decided to defend Bakhmut rather than withdraw, says wearing down Russia’s army there now will help its counteroffensive later.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that Moscow was running low on ammunition, “to the point that extremely punitive shell rationing is in effect on many parts of the front.”
“This has almost certainly been a key reason why no Russian formation has recently been able to generate operationally significant offensive action,” he said in a daily intelligence update.
But not all military analysts are convinced that defending Bakhmut is the best strategy for Ukraine.
Ukraine was suffering losses among reserves it intended to use for a later attack on Russian forces, Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said in an interview. “We could lose everything here that we wanted to use for those counteroffensives.”
‘INSTRUMENT IN THE HANDS OF THE WEST’
Russia launched what it calls a “special military operation” on February 24 last year, saying it had to demilitarize Ukraine to respond to a security threat. kyiv and its Western allies reject it as a false pretext to subdue the country. Moscow now claims to have annexed a fifth of the Ukraine.
The ICC, which opened a war crimes investigation in Ukraine last year, is expected to seek its first arrest warrants against Russian officials “at short notice,” a source with knowledge of the matter said.
It was unclear which Russian officials the prosecutor might request arrest warrants against or when they might be issued. The charges could include the crime of genocide, the source said.
The ICC prosecutor’s office declined to comment.
“The ICC is an instrument of neocolonialism in the hands of the West,” said Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of Russia’s upper house of parliament.
Russia has rejected previous accusations that it had forcibly transferred Ukrainians. He says he has brought Ukrainian children to Russia as a humanitarian effort to protect orphans and children left behind in the conflict.
Ukraine says thousands of deported children are being housed in camps or adopted by Russian families, given Russian passports and educated to reject Ukrainian citizenship.
The UN genocide convention defines “forcibly transferring children from one group to another group” as one of five acts that can be prosecuted as genocide.
Reuters bureau reports; Written by Himani Sarkar and Peter Graff; Edited by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie
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