KYIV: French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Sunday of a verbal ‘escalation’ of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after US President Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin a ‘butcher’ who ‘cannot stay in power’ .
The Kremlin had reacted with fury to Biden’s comments which he said narrowed the window for bilateral relations, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now in a second month.
Macron said he would speak to Putin within the next two days to organize the evacuation of civilians from the heavily bombed port city of Mariupol.
The French leader told the France 3 television channel that he saw his task as “first obtaining a ceasefire, then the total withdrawal of (Russian) troops by diplomatic means”. “If we want to do this, we cannot escalate either in words or actions.” Ukraine made a fresh push to get civilians out of the city on Sunday, with an agreement on the aid route for people to go by car or evacuation bus, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna said. Vereshchuk.
Several attempts to establish safe routes for civilians to flee have collapsed, with both sides accusing each other of violating temporary ceasefires.
Mariupol in the Donetsk region bore the brunt of the Russian assault, and residents who managed to flee recounted harrowing scenes of death and destruction.
About 170,000 people remain trapped in the besieged city and authorities said they fear some 300 civilians died in a March 17 Russian strike that hit a theater used as a bomb shelter.
In an impassioned speech from the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Biden lambasted Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“For the love of God, this man cannot stay in power,” said the American leader, before the White House clarified that Washington was not seeking regime change. The Kremlin responded by declaring that “a head of state must remain sober”.
“I’m going to die anyway”
The personal attacks, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “reduced the window of opportunity” for bilateral relations. “Biden is weak, sick and unhappy,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of parliament.
Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, promising to destroy the country’s military and overthrow pro-Western President Volodymyr Zelensky.
But his army made little progress in capturing key towns, and it struck hospitals, apartment buildings and schools in increasingly deadly attacks on civilians.
In Kharkiv, where authorities reported 44 artillery fire and 140 rocket fire in a single day, residents resigned themselves to the incessant shelling.
Anna Kolinichenko, who lives in a three-room apartment with her sister and brother-in-law, said they didn’t even bother going down to the basement when the sirens sounded.
“If a bomb drops, we’re going to die anyway,” she said. “We’re getting a bit used to the explosions.” Others have found ways to cope with the bombings.
Tamara Osypchuk, 72, said she wrote poetry to calm herself in her apartment in the devastated Ukrainian town of Irpin when the bombs rained down.
“The explosions were very strong. Like a volcano exploding, like the earth exploding,” she said as she rested in a chair at an evacuation center on the outskirts of kyiv.
“I write poems and when there are outbursts, I feel great inspiration.” Shelling has continued over the past 24 hours in Irpin, as well as other towns around Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities said.
Ukraine’s determined fighters continue to hold back the much larger Russian army on the front lines, and some units are beginning to regain control.
Posted in Dawn, March 28, 2022