A key strategic city in Ukraine has now endured more than six weeks of a brutal Russian siegeputting up a fierce resistance that has so far helped thwart Moscow’s plans to control eastern Ukraine’s industrial heartland.
But shortages of weapons and supplies are threatening Mariupol’s ability to resist Russian forces.
Once a city of 450,000, now only 120,000 people live there. At least 21,000 people have been killed in Mariupol, Major Vadym Boychenko said. Bodies were “carpeted through the streets.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the city’s fate is being discussed among the country’s leaders: “The details cannot be made public now, but we are doing everything we can to save our people,” Zelenskyy said Friday.
The city was thrust into the international spotlight in early March with the bombing of a maternity hospital, an attack Western leaders have described as a war crime.” The airstrike killed three civilians, including a child, and left 17 wounded.
Later, 300 people died in a Russian airstrike on the Mariupol Drama Theater that was being used as a shelter. It had the word “CHILDREN” printed in Russian in white letters on the pavement outside — a failed attempt to prevent an attack.
Meanwhile, Zelenskyy continues to call for more outside support for his country — including more and faster military aid, as well as an oil embargo on Russia.
That could determine “how many more Ukrainians the occupiers have time to kill,'” he said.
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► Russian forces summarized scattered attacks on Kyiv, western Ukraine and beyond Saturday. One person was reportedly killed and several wounded in a missile strike that hit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv early Saturday.
►The governor of the Kharkiv region says seven people, including a 7-month-old child, were killed in shelling of a residential neighborhood in the city.
► Russia and Ukraine on Saturday agreed upon nine humanitarian corridors across several cities.
►President Joe Biden is not set to visit Ukraine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told the podcast “Pod Save America” Thursday.
One person was killed and several wounded in a missile strike that hit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv early Saturday, Kyiv Major Vitali Klitschko said in a Telegram post.
“Our anti-aircraft defense forces are doing everything possible to protect us, but the enemy is intruding and ruthless,” he said. “It is no secret that one of the Russian generals has been stating for days that they are ready for missile attacks on the capital of Ukraine. And as we can see, they are doing so.”
In an earlier statement on Ukrainian television, Klitschko said numerous people were hospitalized and doctors are “fighting for their lives.” I have encouraged Kyiv residents to refrain from returning to the city if possible.
– She reads
More than $5 billion in damage has been done to Ukraine’s education system since Russia first invaded in February, Ukraine’s education minister said.
Serhiy Shkarlet, Ukraine minister of Education and Science, said Friday that 91 educational institutions have been completely destroyed and 923 were partially damaged, Pravda Ukraine reported.
“It’s awful when children’s notebooks, school magazines, scientific materials are lying around,” Shkarlet said. “It’s impossible to accept.”
A government program will be adopted to rebuild the nation’s education system and brick-and-mortar institutions, Shkarlet added. Some 1,018 educational institutions have been damaged as of Saturday, 95 of which were completely destroyed, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office
– She reads
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio said Friday that Italy’s ambassador to Kyiv is officially back in Ukraine’s capital.
“It is the symbol of an Italy that wastes no time, never stops believing in diplomacy and persistently seeks peace,” Di Maio tweeted Friday.
Italy’s embassy in Kyiv will reopen Monday and be “fully operational,” Di Maio added.
The move comes after the European Union earlier this month summarized its diplomatic presence in Kyiv after pulling out of the nation when Russia invaded in February,
– She reads
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and 12 other British officials are banned from entering RussiaRussia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Saturday, citing “unprecedented hostile actions” by Britain’s government.
“The Russophobic course of the British authorities, whose main task is to stir up a negative attitude towards our country, bilateral curtail ties in almost all areas, is detrimental to the well-being and interests of the inhabitants of Britain itself,” reads the ministry’s statement. “Any sanctions attacks will inevitably hit their initiators and receive a decisive rebuff.”
Russia’s foreign ministry claimed Britain is “deliberately aggravating the situation around Ukraine,” by providing Ukraine with weapons and coordinating with NATO and other Western allies to impose large-scale sanctions on Russia.
The ministry claimed additional British politicians who “contribute to whipping up anti-Russian hysteria” would soon be added to the list of banned individuals.
– She reads
Russian forces summarized scattered attacks on Kyiv, western Ukraine and beyond Saturday in an explosive reminder to Ukrainians and their Western supporters that the whole country remains under threat despite Russia’s pivot toward mounting a new offensive in the east.
Stung by the loss of its Black Sea flagship and indignant over what it alleged were Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory, Russia’s military command had warned a day earlier of renewed attacks on Ukraine’s capital and said it was targeting military sites.
Associated Press reporters documented civilian deaths in strikes this week on the eastern city of Kharkiv, and each day brings new discoveries of civilian victims in a war that has shattered European security.
In the Kyiv region alone, Ukrainian authorities have reported finding the bodies of more than 900 civilians, most shot dead, after Russian troops retreated two weeks ago.
Amid the devastation of an invasion from Russia, Ukrainians also are trying to dodge COVID.
Some 400 cases of COVID-19 are recorded daily in Ukraine, Minister of Health Viktor Lyashko said in an interview with Ukrainian television channel TCH.
“COVID continues to be registered – not in such numbers (as before),” he said, according to Ukrainian news outlet Liga.net.
Lyashko explained that at the start of the war, about 4,000 cases were recorded daily. Numbers have continued to drop since then. Still, about 2,900 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, he said.
The health minister added that the scope of the nation’s COVID-19 statistics are limited by the ongoing war, noting that eastern regions of Ukraine are not reporting numbers, nor are they required to.
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Russia and Ukraine on Saturday agreed upon nine humanitarian corridors across several cities.
Buses will carry evacuees from Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Hirske and Rubizhne to the northeastern city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced in a Telegram post.
In four other cities – Mariupol, Berdyansk, Tokmak and Energodar – evacuations to Zaporozhye, a city in southeastern Ukraine, can occur via personal transportation. Vereshchuk said that evacuation buses are unable to travel those routes due to weather conditions.
Vereshchuk added that evacuations from the Luhansk region are subject to the cessation of ongoing Russian shelling.
– She reads
Russian holiday could mark key deadline in Ukraine
An upcoming national holiday in Russia could be an important milestone in that country’s invasion of Ukraine, a war that has been more difficult than the Kremlin anticipated.
May 9 is Victory Day, marking the Russian defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 at the end of World War II. Officials in both Ukraine and the West see it as a date by which Russian President Vladimir Putin could target progress in the war.
The date – marking the end of what Russia calls the Great Patriotic War – is one that has gained significance in Putin’s tenure “and has become a foundational moment in the Kremlin’s politics of memory and Russian national identity,” said Hannah Chapman, assistant professor of political science at Miami University.
The Kremlin has staged massive shows of strength to mark the day, with parades and other displays of military might.
But not everyone agrees. Read more.
– Merdie Nzanga
More than 900 civilian bodies found in Kyiv region, police chief says
The bodies of more than 900 civilians were discovered in the Kyiv region following the withdrawal of Russian forces, the regional police chief said in a briefing Friday.
Andriy Nebytov, the head of Kyiv’s regional police force, said the bodies had been abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials. He cited police data indicating that 95% of the casualties had died from sniper fire and gunshot wounds. He added that more bodies were being found every day, under the rubble and in mass graves.
“Consequently, we understand that under the (Russian) occupation, people were simply executed in the streets,” Nebytov said. “The number of killed civilians has surpassed 900 — and I emphasize, these are civilians, whose bodies we have discovered and handed over for forensic examination.”
He added: “The most victims were found in Bucha, where there are more than 350 corpses.”
According to Nebytov, utility workers in Bucha had been gathering up and burying bodies in the Kyiv suburb while it remained under Russian control. Nebytov added that Russian troops were “tracking down” people who expressed strong pro-Ukrainian views.
Two Ukrainian Neptune missiles struck the Russian missile cruiser Moskva, which later sank, according to a senior US Defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Pentagon officials had previously said they could not confirm the Ukrainian claim, but they also did not refute it.
The warship Moskva, which has a history that goes back to days of the Cold War, sank into the Black Sea on Thursday in the latest blow to Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine.
Losing the vessel, built in Ukraine during the Soviet era and named after the Russian capital, represents a military setback and symbolic defeat for Russia as its troops regroup for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine after stumbling in the north.
– Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY; Associated Press
Contributing: The Associated Press