Sun, 13 Mar 2022 20:31 UTC
© Topcor-ruFILE PHOTO: Mercenaries in Ukraine
An air strike on Ukrainian military training facilities in the early hours of Sunday has resulted in the liquidation of "up to 180 foreign mercenaries," the Russian Ministry of Defense has announced.
The strike, conducted with use of "high-precision long-range weapons," targeted "the training centers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine" in the village of Starichi and at Yavoriv polygon.
According to the ministry's spokesman Igor Konashenkov, these facilities served as "a base for the training and combat coordination of foreign mercenaries before they were sent to the combat zones to fight against Russian military personnel." The sites were also being used to store, as Konashenkov put it, "weapons and military equipment coming from foreign countries."
"As a result of the strike, up to 180 foreign mercenaries and a large quantity of foreign weapons were destroyed," Konashenkov said.He went on to warn that the destruction of foreign mercenaries arriving in Ukraine "would continue."
Konashenkov's claims were dismissed by Ukraine as "propaganda."
"This is not the truth. Pure Russian propaganda," Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson Markiyan Lubkivsky told CNN.
In a message to the US TV channel, Lubkivsky said there were no foreigners confirmed among those killed at the Yavoriv base.
Earlier on Sunday the head of the Lviv regional military administration Maxim Kozitsky claimed that at least 35 people had been killed and more than 130 injured during overnight shelling of the Yavoriv military range, also known as the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security.
He claimed that around 30 missiles had been fired, with some "shot down in the air" by Ukrainian forces.Ukraine's Minister of Defense Alexey Reznikov confirmed there were some foreign instructors working at the center.
Ukrainian authorities earlier called on foreign volunteers to join the country's armed forces
in their fight against the "occupiers" and even announced creation of a special "foreign legion."
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.
There's evidence showing that not only was Ukraine planning an offensive against the Donbass in early March, but that it was also planning on making
a dirty bomb to use against Russia.
on the Russian airstrikes:
Russian Attack On Base Brings War In Ukraine Right To NATO's Doorstep
A local official said 35 people were killed and 134 wounded in the March 13 attack on the sprawling Yavoriv International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security, a training base just 25 kilometers from the Polish border, bringing the conflict to the doorstep of the Western security alliance.
Smoke rises amid damaged buildings following an attack on the Yavoriv military base in Ukraine on March 13.
Regional governor Maksym Kozytskiy said Russian planes fired around 30 rockets at the facility, adding that some were intercepted before they hit.
President Joe Biden "has been clear, repeatedly, that the United States will work with our allies to defend every inch of NATO territory and that means every inch," Sullivan said.
The attack highlighted the intensification of Russia's assault on Ukraine, with heavy fighting reported in many areas across the country.
Amid the fighting, Ukrainian officials said Russia had agreed to open more than 10 humanitarian corridors on March 13, including from the besieged port city of Mariupol, where the city council said 2,187 people have been killed since the invasion started on February 24.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said on March 13 that hundreds of thousands of Mariupol's residents are "facing extreme or total shortages of basic necessities like food, water and medicine."
"Dead bodies, of civilians and combatants, remain trapped under the rubble or lying in the open where they fell," it said in a statement.
"In the name of humanity, this cannot continue," Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC added in a tweet.
The United Nations said on March 13 that nearly 2.7 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries during the conflict.
The crisis prompted thousands to take to the streets in several cities in Europe, Russia, and even inside Ukraine, where people paraded past Russian soldiers in some cities waving Ukrainian flags and chanting slogans such as "Fascists Go Home!".
"Today is the largest rally in Kherson! In the eyes of the occupiers there is despair, they hide behind balaclavas and look away. Yes, they have weapons, but we are morally stronger," a post on a Twitter account set up for videos from the city to be posted reads.
In Russia, thousands of people gathered and shouted anti-war slogans despite a heavy police presence and threats of arrests from security officials.
According to OVD-Info, an NGO that monitors arrests during protests, 866 people were arrested as anti-war protests erupted in at least three dozen cities in Russia.
Almost 15,000 people have now been arrested in Russia for protesting against President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine,
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, meanwhile, again warned Russian forces that they face a fight to the death if they try to occupy the capital, Kyiv, whose residents woke again to the sound of air raid sirens.
"If they decide to carpet bomb and simply erase the history of this region...and destroy all of us, then they will enter Kyiv. If that's their goal, let them come in, but they will have to live on this land by themselves," Zelenskiy said on March 13.
The president, who has repeatedly appeared on social media from the capital, said some small towns no longer existed in the third week of the Russian attacks.
Despite the intense fighting, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators signaled some progress in talks to resolve the crisis on March 13.
"We will not concede in principle on any positions. Russia now understands this. Russia is already beginning to talk constructively," Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said in a video posted online.
"I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days," he said.
Leonid Slutsky, a Russian negotiator was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency that the talks had made substantial progress.
"According to my personal expectations, this progress may grow in the coming days into a joint position of both delegations, into documents for signing," Slutsky said.
Neither side said what the scope of any agreement might be.
In separate statements, Podolyak and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the talks were scheduled to resume by videoconference on March 14.
Three rounds of talks between the two sides in Belarus had focused mainly on humanitarian issues and led to the limited opening of some corridors for civilians to escape fighting.
As for the foreign legion, these stories should give some idea of what they're up against, and how they're coping (hint: it's not what they were expecting, to put it mildly - this isn't Afghanistan):