- “Nothing is left” from Mariupol – President
- At least 100,000 people want to leave the city – Deputy Prime Minister
- Ukraine says 2,389 children were taken to Russia
- 300,000 people in occupied Kherson running out of food – Ukraine
- Biden is visiting Brussels, Poland this week
Lviv/Kyiv, Ukraine (Reuters) – Heavy Russian air strikes hit the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and street fighting intensified on Tuesday, a day after it rejected Moscow’s demand to surrender, Ukrainian officials said.
The city council said the bombing was turning Mariupol into “the ashes of a dead land”.
RIA, citing a separatist leader, said Russian forces and Russian-backed separatist units had captured about half of the city.
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Donetsk region’s governor, Pavlo Kirilenko, said street fighting was taking place there and that civilians as well as Ukrainian forces were coming under Russian fire.
On the 27th day of the war in Ukraine, the plight of civilians in Mariupol, which is usually home to 400,000 people, has worsened. Hundreds of thousands are believed to be trapped inside the buildings, without food, water, electricity or heating.
“There is nothing left there,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address to the Italian parliament.
Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told CNN that the city was under complete siege and had not received any humanitarian aid.
“The city is under constant bombardment, from 50 to 100 bombs dropped by Russian planes every day… So many dead, so many crying, so many horrific war crimes,” Orlov said.
Mariupol became the focus of the war that erupted on February 24 when Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his forces across the border in what he called a “special military operation” to demilitarize Ukraine and replace its pro-Western leadership.
It lies on the Sea of Azov and its capture would allow Russia to link regions in the east controlled by pro-Russian separatists to Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
Having failed to capture the capital Kyiv or any other major city with a quick attack, Russian forces wage a war of attrition that has reduced some urban areas to rubble and inflicted massive civilian casualties.
The United Nations human rights office in Geneva said on Tuesday that it had recorded 953 civilian deaths and 1,557 injuries since the invasion. The Kremlin denies targeting civilians.
Western officials said on Tuesday that Russian forces were bogged down around Kyiv but were making some progress in the south and east. They added that Ukrainian fighters were repelling Russian forces in some places, but they could not defeat them.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “nobody” thought the operation in Ukraine would take only two days and that the campaign was well under way, the TASS news agency reported.
Western countries were preparing to impose more sanctions on Russia to force it to reconsider its actions. It would also tighten existing measures, further isolating Russia from international trade and finance.
US President Joe Biden will join other Western leaders for talks on Thursday in Brussels, where NATO and the European Union are based. Then he plans to travel to Poland, which has taken in about 2.1 million refugees from neighboring Ukraine.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden will announce measures to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas – a major obstacle to the West’s efforts to isolate Moscow economically.
Sullivan said the leaders would also coordinate the next phase of military assistance to Ukraine. Read more
A Reuters team that arrived in the Russian-captured part of Mariupol on Sunday described a wasteland of charred apartment buildings and bodies wrapped in blankets lying on the road. Read more
Ukraine says Russian shells, bombs and missiles have hit a theatre, an art school and other public buildings, burying hundreds of women and children who have taken shelter in basements.
Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk, speaking on Ukrainian television on Tuesday, demanded the opening of a humanitarian corridor for civilians. She said that at least 100,000 people wanted to leave Mariupol but could not.
Referring to Russia’s earlier demand that the city surrender by dawn on Monday, Vereshuk said: “Our army is defending heroically Mariupol. We did not accept the ultimatum. They submitted the surrender under a white flag.”
Kyiv accused Moscow of deporting residents of Mariupol and separatist-held regions of Ukraine to Russia. This includes the “forced transfer” of 2,389 children to Russia from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova said.
Moscow denies forcing people to leave, saying it is taking in refugees.
Ukraine also accused Russia of preventing humanitarian aid from reaching Kherson, which is northwest of Crimea and is the only regional capital it has captured. The foreign ministry said Kherson’s 300,000 residents were running out of food.
The conflict has so far displaced nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people, including about 3.5 million who have fled abroad – half of whom are children.
In his speech to Italian lawmakers, Zelensky said that the war would bring starvation to other countries. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and the war has caused world prices for staple foods to rise to record levels.
“How do we grow (the crops) under the bombardment of Russian artillery?” He said. Read more
Zelensky, in an overnight speech, drew attention to the killing of 96-year-old Boris Romanchenko, who survived three Nazi concentration camps during World War II but was killed when his apartment in besieged Kharkiv was bombed last week.
With the murder of Romanchenko, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said, “Putin was able to ‘achieve’ what even Hitler could not”.
In Russia, a court has sentenced Alexei Navalny, Putin’s main political opponent, to nine years in prison, for fraud and contempt of court. Read more
Navalny was already serving a two-and-a-half year sentence in a prison camp east of Moscow for parole violations related to charges he says were fabricated to thwart his political ambitions.
After the verdict was pronounced, he said on Twitter: “The best support for me and other political prisoners is not sympathy and kind words, but actions. Any activity against Putin’s regime of deceivers and thieves. Any opposition to these war criminals.”
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(Reporting by Reuters offices) Writing by Peter Graf and Angus McSwan Editing by Mark Heinrich and Gareth Jones
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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