Awaiting the Russian offensive, Ukrainian soldiers and members of the Territorial Defense were busy on Sunday fortifying their positions and digging new trenches in the rural area of Barvinkove, in the east of the country. The roadsides were mined and anti-tank obstacles installed at all crossroads. While the population tries to flee the eastern regions of Ukraine to escape the battle which is announced there, the airstrikes and the bombardments continue: Sunday, they made at least two dead in Kharkiv (east), the second city in the country, and its suburbs, according to regional governor Oleg Sinegoubov.
The search for bodies continues
In the vicinity of kyiv, occupied for several weeks by the Russian army, the search for bodies continues. “To date, we have 1,222 people killed, for the Kyiv region alone,” Attorney General Iryna Venediktova told Britain’s Sky News channel. She did not specify whether the bodies discovered were exclusively those of civilians, but she also reported 5,600 investigations opened for alleged war crimes since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.
In the town of Boucha alone, northwest of kyiv, which has become a symbol of the atrocities of the war in Ukraine, nearly 300 people were buried in mass graves, according to a report announced by the Ukrainian authorities on April 2. It is in this context that the Austrian Chancellor, after visiting Ukraine on Saturday, is expected in Moscow on Monday where he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. Karl Nehammer declared that he “intends to do everything so that measures are taken in favor of peace”, while acknowledging that the chances of achieving this are slim.
“A risky mission”
This trip to Moscow is “a risky mission” but also a “window of dialogue”, he explained, believing that “personal diplomacy” is in order. He intends to talk to the Kremlin about “war crimes” in Boutcha, where he went on Saturday. “Boutcha was not made in a day. For many years, Russian political elites and propaganda have incited hatred, dehumanized Ukrainians, nurtured Russian superiority and prepared the ground for these atrocities,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
But in an interview with the American channel NBC on Sunday evening, Dmytro Kouleba nevertheless declared himself open to negotiation with Moscow. “If sitting down with the Russians can help me prevent at least one massacre like in Bucha, or at least one more attack like in Kramatorsk, I must seize this opportunity,” he said.
President Zelensky called on Westerners to “follow the example of the United Kingdom”, whose Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday, by imposing “a total embargo on Russian hydrocarbons”. European Union foreign ministers, meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, are to consider a sixth sanctions package against Moscow, which will not, however, affect oil and gas purchases.