KYIV, Ukraine – Moscow has threatened renewed missile strikes on Kiev following the shocking loss of its Black Sea headquarters and so-called Ukrainian offensive in Russian territory, where more than 900 civilian bodies have been found outside the capital. Most were shot, police said, and “simply hanged”.
Russian forces continue preparations for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine, and fighting continues in the southern port city of Mariupol, where locals say Russian troops are digging up bodies. In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, a shelling of a residential area killed seven people, including a 7-month-old baby, and injured 34 others, regional governor Ole Sinehubov said.
In cities around Kiev, said Andriy Nebytov, head of the regional police department, the bodies were dumped in the streets or buried temporarily. He cited police data that 95% died from gunshot wounds.
“As a result, we understand that under the (Russian) occupation, people were simply hanged in the streets,” Nepidov said.
Every day more and more bodies are found beneath the ruins and in mass graves, he added, adding that more than 350 of the largest numbers were found in Pucha. According to Neptune, utility workers gathered in the suburbs of Kiev and buried the bodies when it was under Russian control. He added that Russian troops were “monitoring” those who expressed strong pro-Ukrainian views.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky has accused Russian troops of occupying parts of southern Kersen and Zaporizhia, intimidating civilians and hunting down anyone serving in the Ukrainian military or government.
“The invaders think it will be easier to control this terrain. But they are so wrong. They are fooling themselves,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video speech. “Russia’s problem is that it is not accepted by the entire Ukrainian people – never accepted – Russia has lost Ukraine forever.”
Further violence is expected in Kiev after Russian officials blamed airstrikes on Ukraine on the Ukrainian border for injuring seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings. Authorities in another Russian border area on Thursday announced Ukrainian shelling.
“In response to the Kiev nationalist regime carrying out any terrorist attacks or diversions in Russian territory, the number and size of missile attacks on objects in Kiev will increase,” said Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry.
Russia used the missiles to destroy a facility for repairing and manufacturing missile systems in Kyiv, Konashenkov said. The Ukrainian state arms manufacturer, Ukroporonbrom, said Russian forces had attacked one of the missile workshops at the Vicar plant near Kiev Juliani airport.
Ukrainian officials have not confirmed the strike targets in Russia, and the reports have not been independently verified.
However, Ukrainian officials said that the main warship of the Russian army was attacked by forces with missiles. A senior U.S. defense official backed up the claim, believing the United States now has hit Moscow with at least one Neptune anti-ship missile, and perhaps two. The officer spoke anonymously to discuss the intelligence assessment.
Moscow, named after the Russian capital, sank when it was towed to port on Thursday after causing extensive damage. Moscow did not acknowledge the attack and said only that the explosives on board had exploded. The loss of the ship signals a significant victory for Ukraine and a symbolic defeat for Russia.
The sinking reduced Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea and seemed to symbolize Moscow’s luck in the eight – week invasion, which is widely regarded as a historic mistake following Russia’s retreat from Kiev and much of northern Ukraine.
“A ‘primary’ Russian warship is a worthy diving site. There is still one diving spot in the Black Sea now. After our victory in the war, we will definitely visit the ruins,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Olekshi Resnikov tweeted on Friday.
Russia’s warning of renewed airstrikes did not deter Kiev residents from taking advantage of the sun and slightly warmer spring on Friday, the weekend approaching. More people than usual roamed the streets, walking dogs and electric scooters hand in hand.
Such temporary signs of pre-war life have re-emerged in the capital, with Russian troops failing to capture the city, retreating to focus on eastern Ukraine and leaving evidence of possible war crimes. But an updated bombing refers to the return to the constant roar of airstrikes sirens heard in the early days of the invasion and the frightening nights of refuge in subway stations.
In Mariupol, the city council said on Friday that locals had seen Russian troops digging up bodies buried in residential yards and would not allow new burials of “people killed by them”.
“It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post,” the council said in a telegram.
Fighting continued in industrial areas and ports, and Russia was the first to use a Tu-22M3 long-range bomber to attack the city, said Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motsyyanik.
Mariupol has been besieged by Russian forces since the early days of the invasion, and as the number of Ukrainian guards dwindled it was against a siege that came at a terrible cost to starving and starving civilians.
The mayor said this week that the city’s death toll could exceed 20,000. Other Ukrainian officials have said they expect Mariupol to find evidence of atrocities, such as those found in Pucha and other cities outside Kiev.
If captured by Mariupol, Russian forces in the south, coming through the annexed Crimean peninsula, would be fully integrated with troops in the Donbass region, the eastern industrial center of Ukraine, and targeted for attack.
It is not certain when Russia will launch a full-scale campaign.
On Friday, Mayor Sergei Kuzmenko said on Facebook that a Russian rocket had struck an airport in the central city of Olexandria at night. He made no mention of casualties.
Seven people were killed and 27 others were injured when Russian forces opened fire on a bus carrying civilians in the village of Borovaya near Kharkiv, a regional Ukrainian official said. The claim could not be verified independently.
Dmytro Chubenko, a spokeswoman for the regional prosecutor’s office, told the Suspilne news website that authorities had opened up criminal activity suspected of “violating the laws and customs of war, along with premeditated murder.”
Reported from Fish Gramdorsk. Burns have been reported from Washington. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s War Coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine