Officials: Putin Wants 'Announceable Success' by May 9

Ukraine urges civilians to flee eastern regions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2022 7:25 PM CDT
Officials: Putin Wants 'Announceable Success' by May 9
Policemen work to identify civilians killed in Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv before sending the bodies to the morgue, Wednesday, April 6, 2022.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

(Newser) – Russian troops have now mostly retreated from northeast Ukraine—leaving behind mountains of wrecked equipment and extensive evidence of war crimes—but Vladimir Putin wants to have a victory to boast about in less than five weeks, according to Western security officials. Officials tell the Guardian that the Russian leader wants to have an "announceable success" in eastern Ukraine by the time of Russia's May 9 "Victory Day" holiday, which commemorates victory in World War II.

The officials say Putin's desire for a quick victory in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine means exhausted troops are likely to be redeployed to the area soon, a move that could create friction with military commanders. Ukrainian authorities have urged civilians in the eastern Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk to evacuate before Russia steps up its attacks, the BBC reports. "It has to be done now because later the people will be under fire and face the threat of death," says Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that civilians were tortured, raped, and murdered in occupied towns near Kyiv and that Russians are now trying to conceal evidence of similar crimes elsewhere in the country. "We have information that the Russian troops have changed tactics and are trying to remove the dead people, the dead Ukrainians, from the streets and cellars of territory they occupied,” Zelensky said in an address Wednesday night, per the AP. Zelensky accused Russians of refusing to allow deliveries of humanitarian aid to Mariupol, where the mayor estimates 5,000 civilians have been killed, because they are still in the process of destroying evidence. (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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