Katheryn Winnick: Ukrainians will fight to the death
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In less than a week of Vladimir Putin’s war, 16 Ukrainian children have been killed and 45 wounded, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Meanwhile, more than 330 adult civilians have already lost their lives according to the ministry of health, and a total of 304 are reported to be injured. But UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet warned: “The real figures are, I fear, considerably higher.”
Ms Bachelet, addressing the opening session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, said: “Most of these civilians were killed by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and airstrikes.”
Volodymyr Bondarenko, Kyiv’s deputy mayor, shared the story of one killed child.
Polina, in her final year of primary school, was shot at the weekend when a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group opened fire on her family as they sat in a car in the capital city.
Mr Bondarenko said: “Her name was Polina. She studied in the 4th grade of school in Kyiv.
“This morning on Teligi, [she] and her parents were shot by Russian DRG.”
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Her brother and sister were taken to hospital, where they remain in treatment – like many other kids.
In a bomb shelter at the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital in Kyiv, children and their mothers are reportedly unable to leave because of serious injury or disease.
Another child, seven-year-old Alisa Hlans was killed in the cluster bomb attack on Okhtyrka’s kindergarten.
Amnesty International Secretary-general Agnes Callamard said: “This attack bears all the hallmarks of Russia[‘s] use of this banned and inherently indiscriminate weapon, and shows flagrant disregard for civilian life.”
She added: “There is no possible justification for dropping cluster munitions in populated areas, let alone near a school.”
At least 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed on Monday in a Russian artillery attack on a military unit in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, an official confirmed on Tuesday morning.
Dmytro Zhyvytskyy, the region’s head, posted photographs of the charred shell of a four-floor building and rescuers searching rubble on Telegram.
The news came amid reports of Putin’s troops entering the southern city of Kherson, with journalist Alyona Panina saying on Ukraine’s 24 TV channel: “The city is actually surrounded, there are a lot of Russian soldiers and military equipment on all sides, they set up checkpoints at the exits.”
Further, Ukraine’s Armed Forces said Moscow is planning to involve the “most trained military units” of the Belarusian army in its invasion – a claim previously denied by Alexnder Lukashenko’s regime.
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The government linked any army presence with the country’s “training plan for the 2021-2022 training year”, with the Belarusian Defense Ministry stating: “We already stated time and again that some of our ministry’s forces and equipment were involved in the task of tightening security in sections of the national border of the Republic of Belarus, including in its south.”
Amid shocking stories of war, President Zelensky signed an official request for Ukraine to join the European Union, which the bloc said “would need to be assessed very rapidly by the council, and a decision made as to whether to request an urgent opinion from the commission”.
The presidents of Estonia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia wrote in an open letter on Monday: “We call on the EU Member States to consolidate highest political support to Ukraine and enable the EU institutions to conduct steps to immediately grant Ukraine a EU candidate country status and open the process of negotiations.”
The EU has for the first time agreed to fund military support for a country under attack and has also committed to welcoming Ukrainian refugees for up to three years without the need to apply for asylum first.
But “the main evidence of support for our country”, Zelensky said, would be to become part of the bloc.
Speaking in a video address on the weekend, Ukraine’s president claimed: “I say it as frankly as it can be, the Ukrainian people deserve and have the right to get membership of the European Union.”
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