(Beijing) A Russian strike on an apartment building killed at least eight people Friday in Sloviansk, a city in eastern Ukraine, the local governor said, warning that there could be people buried under the rubble.
According to the latest report, “21 people were injured and eight killed,” Pavlo Kyrylenko announced on Ukrainian television.
Shortly before, Daria Zarivna, adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, had indicated that a two-year-old child who had been pulled out of the rubble then died in the ambulance.
Sloviansk is in a part of the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region, 45 kilometers northwest of Bakhmut, near Russian-controlled territory.
President Zelensky accused Russia of “brutally bombing” residential buildings and “killing people in broad daylight”.
In a statement, the Donetsk regional prosecutor’s office said a preliminary investigation has been opened in criminal proceedings for violation of the laws and customs of war.
“According to preliminary information, the occupiers used an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system against the civilian population,” the text adds.
AFP reporters on the spot saw rescue workers searching for survivors on the top floor of a Soviet-era residential building and black smoke billowing from burning houses across the street.
“I live across the street and was sleeping when I heard this huge explosion. I ran out of my apartment,” Larisa, a 59-year-old resident, told AFP.
She said the impact of the shelling shattered her windows and sent shards of glass throughout the house.
At another bombed site, in a residential area, a shocked elderly woman was picking up shards of metal outside a store.
A resident, who declined to reveal her identity, told AFP the blasts blew out her windows and knocked her front door out of its frame.
“Usually when this happens we immediately take refuge in the bathroom,” she said.
“No one on our side of the building was hurt, but maybe someone here was,” she added, pointing to bloodstains near another entrance to her. building.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law facilitating the mobilization of Russians in the army on Friday, a text validated in two days by Parliament, according to Russian agencies.
According to the new law, a reservist can now be mobilized electronically, via a portal of the Russian public services, or even if the order is given to a third party.
Until then, invitations had to be delivered by hand.
President Vladimir Putin had decreed a mobilization of 300,000 reservists in September 2022, the implementation of which had often been chaotic.
If the Kremlin denies wanting to launch a second wave, many people in Russia are worried about it, while the Ukrainian army is preparing a major counter-offensive.
The police have the right to hunt down defaulters, who incur prison sentences. The tax service, universities and other public bodies will have a duty to provide the personal information of those mobilized.
Refusal to report to the enrollment office will thus deprive Russians of the possibility of working as an entrepreneur or self-employed person, of receiving loans or of disposing of their accommodation and their car.
These measures also concern Russians who have fled their country and work remotely.
The previous mobilization of September 2022 had caused the flight of tens of thousands of Russians abroad.
“No other country has more influence over Russia than China,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Friday, urging Beijing to ask “the Russian aggressor to stop the war” in Ukraine.
“I have to say openly that I wonder why the Chinese position so far does not include a request to the Russian aggressor to stop the war,” she told Beijing at a press conference. alongside his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow showed, according to Ms. Baerbock, “no other country has more influence on Russia than China, and the decision to use that influence directly affects Russia’s essential interests. Europe”.
“In the same way that China has successfully engaged in a peaceful balance between Iran and Saudi Arabia, we want China to pressure Russia to finally end its aggression and that it participates in a peaceful solution to the conflict,” added the minister, who is making her first trip to China.
After this meeting, China announced that its Defense Minister Li Shangfu would visit Russia on Sunday. He will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu there to discuss together from April 16 to 18 “bilateral cooperation in the field of defense, as well as global and regional security issues”, said the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Annalena Baerbock’s visit comes a week after that of French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who also called on Beijing, close to Moscow, to play a role for peace in Ukraine.
In recent weeks, international pressure has mounted to push China to intervene with Russia and bring it to the negotiating table.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Beijing has declared itself officially neutral, without ever condemning the Russian invasion.
“China has always believed that the only way to resolve the Ukrainian crisis is to promote peace and talks,” Qin Gang said on Friday.
“China stands ready to continue working for peace and hopes that all parties involved in the crisis will remain objective and calm, and jointly make constructive efforts to resolve the crisis through negotiations,” he said. -he adds.
The German minister was also very firm on the question of Taiwan, where China has again just launched large-scale military maneuvers.
“A military escalation in the Taiwan Strait where 50% of world trade passes through every day would be a disaster scenario for the whole world,” she said.
“Taiwan belongs to China,” Qin Gang retorted. And “no one hopes more than compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait for the maintenance of peace and stability…and the peaceful reunification of the motherland,” he added.
Emmanuel Macron aroused a wave of misunderstanding in the United States and Europe upon his return from China by calling on the European Union not to “follow” Washington or Beijing on the question of Taiwan, remarks sometimes interpreted as a disinterest of France on this subject.
A destabilization of the strait “would have dramatic consequences for all countries in the world and therefore for the entire global economy”, said Baerbock, calling on the parties to “prevent any escalation”.
Thursday, the minister had assured that the Europeans were united in their policy vis-à-vis Beijing.
“There is no other partner with whom we coordinate so closely in the European Union as with our French friends,” she said.
On Friday, she also expressed concern “that the scope for civil society in China continues to shrink and human rights are curtailed.”
She cited the situation of the Uyghur community in Xinjiang, which was “documented in black and white in the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.”
Published in September, this report – a mixture of interviews carried out by its services and information of first and second hand – evokes the possibility of “crimes against Humanity” in the region.
“Each country has a different national situation, different history and culture, human rights have no universally applicable standard,” Qin Gang retorted.
“Today, Xinjiang is socially stable, economically prosperous, ethnically united, religiously harmonious, and its people live and work in peace and happiness,” he said.