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Russia strikes at major cities in Ukraine, attacks Mariupol

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russian forces have resumed rocket attacks on Kyiv and intensified shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in a clear strategy to hamper Ukraine’s defense in preparation for what is expected to be a full-scale Russian attack in east.

These and other attacks scattered across the country were an explosive reminder to Ukrainians and their Western supporters that the whole country remains under threat.

As the port city of Mariupol is under siege, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said Russia was “deliberately trying to destroy everyone there.” He said Ukraine needed more heavy weapons from the West immediately to have any chance of saving the city.

Every day brings new discoveries to civilian victims of an invasion that shattered European security. In towns and villages near Kyiv, authorities said they had found the bodies of more than 900 civilians, most of them shot dead after Russian troops withdrew two weeks ago.

Following the humiliating loss of its Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, Russia’s military command has vowed to step up missile strikes on the capital. The Russians said they hit an armored vehicle plant on Saturday, a day after heading for a missile plant.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has advised residents who fled the city earlier in the war not to return.

“We do not rule out further strikes on the capital,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to stay a little longer in cities where it’s safer, do it.”

The mayor said one person was killed and several were injured in Saturday’s strike. It was not immediately clear from the ground what was hit in the Darnytskyi district of Kyiv. The vast area at the southeastern end of the capital contains a mix of Soviet-style apartment blocks, newer shopping malls and large shopping malls, industrial areas and railway facilities.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said an armored vehicle plant had been attacked. He did not specify the location of the factory, but there is one in the Darnytskyi district.

He said the plant was among many Ukrainian military sites affected by “high-precision, long-range weapons.”

Russian missiles hit the city just as residents appeared for walks, foreign embassies planned to reopen, and other preliminary signs of the city’s prewar life began to reappear after Russian troops failed to take Kyiv and withdraw.

Kyiv was one of many targets on Saturday. The Ukrainian president’s office has reported rocket fire and shelling in the last 24 hours in eight regions across the country.

The governor of Lviv region in western Ukraine, which is only sporadically affected by the violence of the war, announced air strikes in the region by Russian Su-35 planes that took off from neighboring Belarus.

In northeastern Kharkov, Mayor Igor Terekhov said three people were killed and 34 injured on Saturday. An explosion believed to have been caused by a rocket sent by rescue workers to climb near an open-air market. They said one person was killed and at least 18 were injured.

“All the windows, all the furniture, everything is destroyed. And the door, too, “said the stunned resident Valentina Ulyanova.

The day before, rockets hit a residential area of ​​Kharkov, killing a 15-year-old boy, a baby and at least eight others, officials said.

Nate Mook, a member of the NGO World Central Kitchen, led by renowned chef Jose Andres, tweeted that four workers in Kharkov had been injured in a strike. Andres tweeted that employees were worried but safe.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nechamer, who met with Vladimir Putin last week in Moscow – the first European leader to do so since the invasion began on February 24 – said the Russian president was “in his own military logic” for Ukraine.

In an interview with NBC’s Nehamer Press, he said he believed Putin believed he was winning the war and “we need to look him in the eye and confront him with what we see in Ukraine.”

Nehamer said Putin was confronted with what he saw during a visit to the Kiev suburb of Bucha, where more than 350 bodies were found, along with evidence of killings and torture during the Russian occupation, and “it was not a friendly conversation.” .

Zelensky said in an interview with Ukrainian journalists that the ongoing siege of Mariupol, which costs a horrific price to trapped and starving civilians, could hamper attempts to negotiate an end to the war.

“The destruction of all our boys in Mariupol – what they are doing now – could put an end to any format of negotiations,” he said.

Later, in his evening video address to the nation, Zelensky said Ukraine needed more support from the West to have a chance to save Mariupol.

“Either our partners give Ukraine all the necessary heavy weapons, planes and, without exaggeration, immediately so that we can reduce the occupiers’ pressure on Mariupol and end the blockade,” he said, “or we will do so through negotiations in which the role of our partners must be decisive. “

Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had been expelled from most of the city and remained only in the huge Azovstal steel plant.

Russian Major General Vladimir Frolov, whose troops were among the besiegers of Mariupol, was buried Saturday in St. Petersburg after dying in battle, Governor Alexander Beglov said. Ukraine says several Russian generals and dozens of other high-ranking officers have been killed in the war.

The capture of Mariupol would allow Russian forces to the south, rising through the annexed Crimean peninsula, to fully connect with troops in the Donbass region, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heart.

Zelensky estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers died in the war and about 10,000 were wounded. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office said on Saturday that at least 200 children had been killed and more than 360 injured.

Russian forces have also captured about 700 Ukrainian soldiers and more than 1,000 civilians, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said on Saturday. Ukraine has about the same number of Russian troops as the prisoners and intends to organize an exchange, but insists on the release of civilians “without any conditions,” she said.

Russia’s warning of intensified attacks on Kyiv came after it accused Ukraine on Thursday of injuring seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings by air strikes in Bryansk, a region bordering Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities have not confirmed that they have hit targets in Russia.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis on Saturday called for “gestures of peace in those days marked by the horrors of war” in a Easter vigil sermon at St. Peter’s Basilica attended by the mayor of the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol and three members of Ukraine’s parliament. Francis did not directly mention the Russian invasion, but called, apparently in vain, for an Easter truce in order to achieve peace through negotiations.


Chernov reported from Kharkov. Yeshitsa Fish from Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Robert Burns in Washington and Associated Press journalists from around the world contributed to this report.


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