Russia says its forces have cleared most of Mariupol and attacked the suburbs of Kiev, Reuters reports

Russia says its forces have cleared most of Mariupol and attacked the suburbs of Kiev, Reuters reports

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© Reuters. PHOTO: Graves of Ukrainian soldiers killed during joint operation in eastern regions of the country damaged, according to local Orthodox priest, by Russian tank shell while Russian attack on Ukraine continues at Chernihiv cemetery

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Author: Pavel Polityuk

KIEV / MARIUPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian missile strikes hit Ukraine’s capital Kiev and other cities on Saturday, as Moscow said its troops had cleared the urban area of ​​Mariupol and only a small contingent of Ukrainian fighters remained inside the steel plant in besieged southern port.

Russia’s claim that it took control of Mariupol, the scene of the worst war conflicts and the worst humanitarian catastrophe, could not be independently confirmed. It would be the first major city to fall into the hands of Russian forces since the February 24 invasion.

“The situation is very difficult” in Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Ukrainian Justice news portal. “Our soldiers are blocked, the wounded are blocked. The humanitarian crisis is … However, the boys are defending themselves.”

While Russia launched new long-range attacks after the sinking of the leading ship of its Black Sea Fleet, Moscow said that its warplanes attacked the tank repair factory in Kiev. An explosion was heard and smoke rose over the southeastern Darnytskyi district. The mayor said that at least one person was killed, and that medics are fighting to save others.

The Ukrainian army said that Russian warplanes that took off from Belarus fired missiles at the Lviv region near the Polish border, and that the Ukrainian air defense shot down four cruise missiles.

The western city has so far been relatively unharmed and serves as a haven for refugees and international aid agencies.

In Mariupol, Reuters reporters from Russian districts reached the Ilyich steel plant, one of two metal factories where defenders were held in underground tunnels and bunkers. Moscow claimed to have taken it on Friday.

The factory was reduced to a rubble of twisted steel and foam concrete, with no traces of defenders. Several bodies of civilians lay scattered in the nearby streets. Someone sprayed “mined” on the fence near the destroyed gas station.

Russia’s defense ministry said its troops had “completely cleansed” the Mariupol urban area of ​​Ukrainian forces and blocked “remains” at the Azovstal steel plant, the RIA news agency reported. It states that since Saturday, Ukrainian forces in the city have lost more than 4,000 people.

Later on Saturday, Zelenski accused Russia of “deliberately trying to destroy everything” in Mariupol and said his government was in contact with defenders. But he did not comment on Moscow’s claim that Ukrainian forces are no longer in the city’s neighborhoods.

The governor of the province of Kharkov in the east said that at least one person was killed and 18 were injured in the rocket attack. Smoke billowed from burning cars and the remains of what looked like an office building in the city.

In Mykolaiv, a city near the southern front, Russia announced that it had hit a factory for repairing military vehicles.

The attacks came after Russia announced on Friday that it would intensify long-range strikes in retaliation for indefinite acts of “sabotage” and “terrorism”, hours after it confirmed the sinking of its flagship on the Black Sea, Moscow.

Kiev and Washington say that the ship, whose sinking became a symbol of Ukrainian defiance, was hit by Ukrainian missiles. Moscow says it sank after the fire and that its crew of about 500 was evacuated.

The Russian Ministry of Defense published a video of the chief of the navy, Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, meeting with about a hundred sailors who are stated to be crew members at the parade range.

A month and a half after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia is trying to conquer territory in the south and east after withdrawing from the north after an attack on Kiev that was repulsed on the outskirts of the capital.

Russian troops retreating from the north have left behind cities full of civilian bodies, proof of what US President Joe Biden called genocide this week.

Russia denies targeting civilians and says its “special military operation” aims to disarm its neighbor, defeat nationalists and protect separatists in the southeast.

‘MARIUPOL WILL ALWAYS BE UKRAINE’

If Mariupol falls, it would be Russia’s biggest reward in the war so far. It is the main port of Donbass, a region of two provinces in the southeast that Moscow is seeking to surrender to the separatists.

The owner of both giant steel mills in Mariupol, Ukraine’s richest man Rinat Akhmetov, has vowed to rebuild the city. “Mariupol was and will always be a Ukrainian city,” Akhmetov told Reuters.

Ukraine says it has so far restrained Russian advances in other areas of Donbas, Donetsk and Luhansk, where at least one person was killed in shelling overnight.

In the town of Lisichansk on the Lugansk front line, civilians squatted and then fled to protect themselves from oncoming grenades as thick smoke rose from a blackened store and burned cars.

Ukraine gained an advantage in the early stages of the war, in part by successfully deploying mobile units armed with anti-tank missiles delivered by the West against Russian armored convoys confined to muddy terrain roads.

But Putin seems determined to occupy more of Donbas to declare victory in a war that has left Russia under tougher Western sanctions and with few allies.

The Ukrainian military command in the east of the country, where Kiev says it expects a major attack, announced in a post on Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 that it repulsed 10 attacks on Saturday, destroying 15 tanks, 24 other armored vehicles and three artillery systems. Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Zelensky told Ukrainian journalists that the world should prepare “in several ways” for the possibility that Russia could use nuclear weapons. He did not provide evidence for that claim.

Last month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would resort to nuclear weapons only in the event of a “threat to the existence” of the country – and not as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

Zelenski’s adviser said that the country needs a faster supply of weapons than its partners from the European Union. “Ukraine needs weapons. Not in a month. Now,” Mikhail Podoljak said in a Twitter post (NYSE :).

Russia’s defense ministry says its anti-aircraft systems in the Odessa region shot down a Ukrainian transport plane delivering weapons delivered by Western governments. It did not provide any evidence. There were no comments from Kiev.

Zelenskiy said about 2,500-3,000 Ukrainian soldiers and about 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed so far.

Moscow has not provided updated information about its victims since March 25, when it announced that 1,351 died. Western estimates of Russia’s losses are many times higher.

Ukraine says the deaths of civilians are impossible to count, estimating at least 20,000 killed in Mariupol alone.

In total, about a quarter of Ukrainians have been expelled from their homes, including a tenth of the population who have fled abroad.



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