War in Ukraine: double missile strike in Odessa, Russian presidential election, torture of prisoners… update on the situation

War in Ukraine: double missile strike in Odessa, Russian presidential election, torture of prisoners... update on the situation

Une double frappe de missiles russes a fait au moins 20 morts et plus de 70 blessés ce vendredi à Odessa, dans le sud de l'Ukraine, MAXPPP – Nicolas Cleuet/Le Pictorium

Tous les jours, Midi Libre fait le point sur la situation en Ukraine. Ce vendredi 15 mars 2024, découvrez les dernières actualités autour de ce conflit.

Odessa targeted by two Russian missiles, at least 20 dead

A double Russian missile strike left at least 20 dead and more than 70 injured on Friday in Odessa, southern Ukraine, one of the deadliest attacks having targeted the city, Ukrainian authorities reported. The Ukrainian port was hit by two Iskander-M missiles fired from the annexed Crimean peninsula, regional governor Oleh Kiper said on national television.

President Volodimir Zelensky denounced a "despicable" and promised a "fair answer" Ukrainian forces. The missiles hit a residential area and damaged gas and electricity infrastructure, Oleh Kiper said. Among the victims were at least one doctor and one rescuer who had gone to the site after the first bombing, he added, reporting ten seriously injured.

A three-story recreation center was destroyed, along with at least ten privately owned houses, the Ukrainian army's Southern Command said. Dozens of rescuers were busy putting out fires caused by the explosions and cleaning up debris. Odessa, home to important Ukrainian port infrastructure, has been the almost daily target of Russian bombing since Moscow last year denounced the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea concluded under the aegis of the UN and Turkey.

Earlier this month, on March 2, twelve people died in a drone attack that destroyed a building in the port city. (Written by Yuliia Dysa, French version Tangi Salaün and Jean-Stéphane Brosse)

Ukraine-Berlin, Paris and Warsaw display their unity

Germany, France and Poland displayed their unity on Friday after the tensions between Berlin and Paris over aid to Ukraine, ensuring that they are talking about & #39;one voice and renewing strong support for Kyiv in the face of the Russian enemy. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk met in Berlin to resolve the differences that are weakening the Franco-German couple and, therefore, European cohesion in the face of Moscow.

During the conference in support of Ukraine at the end of February in Paris, Emmanuel Macron made Olaf Scholz bristle – in particular – by publicly mentioning the possible sending of troops to Ukraine, then the following week to Prague where he had called on Europeans not to be “cowardly”. The German Chancellor, who replied that "prudence" was not "weakness& ;quot;, spoke face-to-face on Friday morning with Emmanuel Macron.

The two leaders were then joined by Donald Tusk, in the Weimar Triangle format. "We speak with one voice", assured Donald Tusk at the end of the discussions, during & #39;a joint press conference with the French and German leaders. He announced a summit of the Weimar Triangle in the summer. "We want to do whatever is necessary (…) so that the situation in Ukraine (…) improves and does not deteriorate" , he added. Olaf Scholz thus announced the creation of a "new coalition of capabilities for long-range artillery" as part of the Allied Contact Group on the Defense of Ukraine (Ramstein format).

Russian presidential election punctuated by incidents, Ukrainian bombings

Several violent incidents, including deadly bombings in areas under Russian control in Ukraine, marked the first day of the Russian presidential election on Friday, which should give Vladimir Putin a fifth term. Three children were killed by Ukrainian strikes on Donetsk, a town in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia, the mayor said. Another child was killed in the Russian border region of Belgorod – an attack designed, the Kremlin says, to destabilize the electoral process.

The inhabitants of what Moscow calls its "new territories", the four regions of Ukraine partially controlled by Russian forces and which Russia claims as its own, are also called to the polls. Kyiv claims that holding elections in these regions is illegal and that the result will be null and void. The election commission of Ukraine's Moscow-controlled Kherson region accused Kyiv on Friday of bombing polling stations in the towns of Kakhovka and Brylivka, in a statement published on Telegram.

The commission added that several people were injured and buildings were damaged. Reuters was unable to confirm this information from an independent source. Ella Pamfilova, president of the electoral commission, also reported a major cyberattack against the video surveillance system of polling stations in the Tyumen region, in Siberia, according to the TASS news agency . A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a polling station in St. Petersburg, according to local media Fontanka.

Systematic torture against Ukrainian prisoners of war-UN

The United Nations International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine said Friday it had gathered additional evidence of torture by Russian armed forces against Ukrainian prisoners of war. The body composed of three members, Erik Møse, Pablo de Greiff and Vrinda Grover, describes in a report a phenomenon "widespread and systematic" which could amount to a crime against humanity. "Victims' testimonies reveal incessant brutal treatment, causing intense suffering and pain, in detention, without any regard for human dignity" , Commission President Erik Møse told journalists.

Detainees report starving themselves to eat soap, worms and dog food in Russian detention centers. A Ukrainian soldier testifying in the report was forced to regularly jump on an injured foot, which caused gangrene. Guards then beat him after he attempted suicide in his cell, causing a broken tailbone and toe. Since his release, this man has undergone 36 surgeries. "What we have uncovered strongly supports our past findings (on torture)", said Eric Møse.

The report also mentions threats of rape against prisoners and torture of the genitals with electricity. "We consider it crucial that the commission continues to investigate the alleged violations and crimes so that these documented facts can be used as evidence in present and future courts", said Ukrainian Ambassador Filipenko Ievheniia.

Russia denies any form of mistreatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war. The UN Human Rights Council had also documented cases of mistreatment by Ukrainian forces of Russian prisoners. The report made public on Friday is submitted to the Human Rights Council which created this commission of inquiry in March 2022 and must decide on its renewal for a new one-year mandate . 

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