Status: 03/26/2022 11:51 AM

France is planning an evacuation operation from Mariupol with Turkey and Greece. According to Ukrainian President Selenskyi, the situation there remains “tragic.” Ukrainian forces are fighting to retake Kherson.

France is planning a humanitarian operation with Turkey and Greece to evacuate people from the heavily contested eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol in the short term. President Emmanuel Macron made the announcement after the EU summit in Brussels.

In planning for the international rescue operation for the citizens of Mariupol, there were already concrete talks with the mayor as well as coordination with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Selenskyj, Macron said. And coordination is now also needed with Russia, whose troops have been besieging the city for weeks, he added.

Ten escape corridors agreed

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk reiterated that an agreement was reached today on the establishment of ten escape corridors for the evacuation of civilians from frontline hotspots in Ukrainian cities.

She said on state television that civilians who wanted to leave Mariupol would have to do so in private vehicles, as Russian forces would not allow buses through their checkpoints around the port city.

Oliver Mayer-RĂ¼th, ARD Istanbul currently Uman/Ukraine, on the prospects for success of President Macron’s planned rescue mission.

tagesschau 11:55 a.m., 3/26/2022

Situation “absolutely tragic”

According to Selenskyi, the situation in the city remains “absolutely tragic.” In a video message that night, he accused Russia of blocking aid to civilians in Mariupol. So far, he said, it has managed to get just over 26,000 civilians out of the fiercely contested city. Deputy Prime Minister Vereshchuk said on national television that more than 100,000 people still need to be brought out of Mariupol.

Selenskyi again called for serious talks with Russia, saying the resistance of Ukrainian troops is making the Russian leadership talk. He stressed that Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be preserved. Anything else, he said, would not be accepted by the Ukrainian people.

London: “indiscriminate bombing” continues

According to the British Defense Ministry’s assessment, the Russian invading forces are hesitant to launch large-scale infantry attacks on major Ukrainian cities. The invaders did continue attacks on metropolises such as Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol, the ministry announced on Twitter, citing intelligence findings.

In doing so, Russian forces rely primarily “on the indiscriminate use of aerial and artillery bombardment to try to demoralize the defense forces,” the ministry added. It said it was likely that Moscow was seeking in this way to “limit its own already significant losses at the expense of further civilian casualties.”

Difficult struggle for the city of Kherson

According to a U.S. Defense Department representative, Ukrainian forces are struggling to retake the key southern city of Kherson from the Russians. The Russian military, he said, no longer has such firm control of the city as before, which is why Kherson is now again to be assessed as a “contested area.”

Kherson is a strategically important port city, the official said. It is located at the beginning of the Dnipro estuary delta. If the Ukrainians succeed in retaking the city, it would complicate the Russian attack on the nearby embattled major city of Mykolaiv. It would also significantly complicate a possible ground offensive toward the port city of Odessa.

Shaded in white: Advance of the Russian army. Green shaded: separatist areas supported by Russia. Crimea: annexed by Russia. Image: ISW/24.03.2022

Russian attack on Kiev remains possible

The Ukrainian military still considers a large-scale attack by Russian forces on Kiev possible. To that end, the adversary continues to mass strong forces, said Ukraine’s Army Chief of Staff Olexander Grusevich. In addition, according to intelligence, special units are being prepared for this operation in the Caucasus republic of Dagestan. This information cannot be independently verified. Most recently, Ukrainian troops succeeded in retaking several positions and localities in the vicinity of Kiev.

Conflict parties as a source

Information on the course of the war, shelling, and casualties from official sources of the Russian and Ukrainian parties to the conflict cannot be independently verified directly in the current situation.

Air force headquarters hit by missiles

In the west of the country, the Ukrainian Air Force headquarters in Vinnytsia was hit by several Russian cruise missiles. Some of the six missiles were shot down on approach, while the rest hit the building, the air force command announced on its Facebook page. “Significant damage” was caused to the infrastructure, it said. No details were given about any casualties from the attack.

Missiles destroy arsenal with armaments

Russian forces said they have again destroyed an arsenal of weapons and military equipment in a missile attack. Four “Caliber” missiles were fired from a warship in the Black Sea and hit the depot near the major city of Zhytomyr, it said. The important industrial city is located about a 120 kilometers west of Kiev.

A total of 117 military objects were destroyed within 24 hours, including six command posts and three fighter jets, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. The information cannot be verified. Also published again was a video showing the firing of missiles.

Donbass: Change of strategy of the Russian army

According to official statements, a change of strategy is emerging in the Russian army. In the future, the army will focus on “liberating” the Donbass region in the east of the country, Russia’s Deputy Chief of General Staff Sergei Rudskoy said. 93 percent of the Luhansk government district and 54 percent of the Donetsk district are under control, the Defense Ministry announced. Thus, the “main goal of the first phase of the operation” has been fulfilled.

The Defense Ministry in Moscow said that Ukrainian forces had been weakened to the point where they could now begin to retake most of the

efforts to the Donbass.

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