Lauren Moye, FISM News
On the 11th day of war in Ukraine, the aggressor Russia remains resistant to diplomatic pleas to end the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin remains adamant that the invasion is simply a “special military operation” and that they have no intent to occupy their southern neighbor.
“In Ukraine, rivers of blood and tears are flowing,” Pope Francis rejected Putin’s claim during his weekly St. Peters Square address. “This is not just a military operation but a war which sows death, destruction and misery.”
Citizens and soldiers alike bolstered defenses around Kyiv in preparation for a greater battle. So far, the fighting in Ukraine’s capital city has been less intense than in nearby towns and in other cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv. This is expected to change after the Russian defense ministry released video footage of military vehicles moving near Kyiv.
Sandbags and concrete slabs have been placed on the main streets of Kyiv while others have been blocked entirely with metal anti-tank barriers known as “hedgehogs.” Machine guns have been erected. Citizens are prepared to join the defense of their city with Molotov cocktails.
“We are equipped 100%. Positions are prepared. We’ve fitted them out, and we are simply waiting to meet them here,” a soldier stated in footage released by Ukraine. “Victory will be ours.”
Ukraine authorities report that Russia has lost more than 11,000 troops so far and 88 different aircrafts. These claims have not been corroborated.
On Saturday, the U.N. Rights office reported that there had been 350 civilian deaths during the conflict.
Second failed attempt to evacuate Mariupol
Kyiv and Moscow once again blamed each other when a second ceasefire meant to establish a safe evacuation route for citizens of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol fell through.
The Ukrainian television station 24 showed an interview with a fighter within the Ukrainian National Guard who claimed Russian forces, which encircled Mariupol, once again continued to shell areas that were meant to be safe. Meanwhile, an official with the pro-Russian Donetsk separatist movement accused Ukraine of breaking the ceasefire, according to the Interfax news agency.
“They’re destroying us,” Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko told Reuters. “They will not even give us an opportunity to count the wounded and the killed because the shelling does not stop.”
No matter who is at fault, the lack of safety once again prevented civilians from leaving the city for the second day in a row. The separatist official said that roughly 300 people have evacuated, which is a far cry from the 200,000 individuals Ukrainian authorities planned to move.
Since Feb. 24 when Russia announced their invasion, there have been reports that their soldiers have targeted civilian infrastructures. This claim is bolstered by the World Health Organization, who reported multiple attacks on healthcare facilities that resulted in both deaths and injuries.
.@WHO has confirmed several attacks on health care in #Ukraine, causing multiple deaths and injuries. Additional reports are being investigated. Attacks on healthcare facilities or workers breach medical neutrality and are violations of international humanitarian law. #NotATarget https://t.co/Wdc2jeoHIB
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 6, 2022
There are also reports that Russia has utilized cluster bombs on heavily populated areas. Now, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Russia is preparing to bombard the southern city of Odessa. He said, “Rockets against Odessa? This will be a war crime.”
Russian citizens continue to make their voices heard as they speak against the war. A Russian-based protest monitor reports that over 2000 citizens have been detained within the nation for anti-war protests.
March 6 was declared a Global Day of Protest of the war by one Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, from his jail cell. Worldwide protests were organized in response, including in Washington D.C. Reuters reported that over 4,300 individuals were detained for participating in protests from Russian cities.
Zelensky encouraged Russian citizens to continue to protest. Using their native language during a televised address, he passionately declared, “Citizens of Russia! For you, this is a struggle not only for peace in Ukraine! This is a fight for your country. If you keep silent now, only your poverty will speak for you later. And only repression will answer.”
Growing Refugee Crisis
The refugee crisis continues to grow with now over 1.5 million Ukrainians displaced out of the country. The United Nations Refugee Agency posted to Instagram early on Sunday, “1.5 million people have fled Ukraine.”
These numbers don’t account for citizens who have left homes that were threatened by warfare but who remain in the country. Reuters estimates this number as also being in the millions. Many of these individuals have traveled to the quieter Western side of the country.
“Of course I’m frightened, as is everybody,” one of these displaced women, Kateryna Laskari, told Reuters. She added, “But to tell the truth, I thought I would be even more frightened. Now I feel like a soldier. I feel that I have a lot of energy to just to fight, because I know that we will win.”
Mastercard and Visa
Visa and Mastercard have announced they are severing ties with Russian banks by eliminating their payment systems within the country. This renders Russian-issued debit cards useless after March 9, while no card issued from another country will work at Russian merchants or ATMs.
Some banks within the country have announced plans to utilize the China-based UnionPay system instead.