Firefighters are engaged in a number of firefighting operations after the Russian attack on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Saturday. (Philip Dana, Associated Press)
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KYIV, Ukraine – Russian forces have stepped up scattered attacks in Kiev, western Ukraine and beyond beyond Saturday in an explosive reminder to Ukrainians and their Western supporters that the whole country is under threat, despite Moscow pioneering the launch of a new offensive in the east.
Russia’s military command has warned of renewed missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital in the wake of the loss of its Black Sea flagship and the alleged Ukrainian occupation of the Russian border. Authorities in Moscow said they had targeted military bases, a claim repeated throughout the 52-day war – and denied by witnesses.
The figure reaches very deep. Every day brings new discoveries to the civilian population affected by the invasion that has eroded European security. A mother cries as she looks at the body of her 15-year-old son after rockets hit a residential area of the city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine as Russia prepares for an expected attack. Authorities said one child and at least eight others were killed.
Authorities say the bodies of more than 900 civilians have been found in cities and villages outside Kiev since Russian troops retreated two weeks ago, most of them shot dead. Smoke rose again from the capital early Saturday morning as Mayor Vitaly Klitschko announced a strike that killed one person and injured several others.
The mayor advised residents who had previously left the city during the war not to return.
“We do not rule out further strikes in the capital,” Klitschko said. “If you have the opportunity to stay in safe cities for a while, do it.”
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. The sprawling area on the southeast edge of the capital is a mix of Soviet-style apartments, new shopping centers and large box retail outlets, industrial areas and train stations.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the attack targeted an armored vehicle plant. He did not specify where the factory was located, but there was one in the Dornitsky district.
He said the plant had been attacked at several Ukrainian military bases by “high-precision long-range weapons launched into the air.” As the United States and Europe send new weapons to Ukraine, the strategy may be to block Ukraine’s security ahead of a full – scale Russian offensive in the east.
This is the second attack in the Kiev region since the Russian military vowed this week to step up missile strikes on the capital. Another hit the missile plant on Friday.
Russian missiles hit the city, residents appeared to march, foreign embassies were scheduled to reopen, and other temporary signs of life in the city’s pre-war life began to reappear, and they began to withdraw following the failure of Russian troops to capture Kiev.
Kiev is one of many destinations on Saturday. The Office of the President of Ukraine has announced that it has conducted missile strikes and shelling in the last 24 hours in eight regions of the country.
The governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine, which has only occasionally been affected by the violence of the war, announced airstrikes on a Russian Su-35 aircraft departing from neighboring Belarus.
In apparent preparations for its attack in the east, the Russian military has recently intensified shelling on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. Ukraine’s presidential office says Friday’s attack killed civilians and injured more than 50.
On Saturday, AP reporters at the scene said an explosion believed to have been caused by a missile had chased emergency workers near an outdoor market in Kharkiv. One person was killed and at least 18 were injured, according to rescue workers.
“All the windows, all the furniture, all were destroyed. And the door, too,” described resident Valentina Ulianova with astonishment.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said three people were killed and 34 were injured on Saturday.
Said Nate Mook, a member of the World Central Kitchen NGO run by renowned chef Jose Andres. A tweet In Kharkiv, four workers were injured in the strike. Jose Andres Has tweeted that The staff were tense but safe.
Austrian President Carl Nehammer, who met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week – the first European leader to do so since the invasion began on February 24 – has said that the Russian president is “on his own war logic” against Ukraine.
In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Nehammer said he believed Putin had won the war and that “we must look into his eyes and face what we see in Ukraine.”
Nehammer said he encountered Putin during a visit to the Kiev suburb of Pucha, where more than 350 bodies were found with evidence of killings and torture under Russian occupation, and said “this is not a friendly conversation.”
In an interview with Ukrainian journalists, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the continued siege of the port city of Mariupol, which has come at a horrendous cost to stranded and starving civilians, could thwart efforts to end the war.
“Destroying all of our comrades in Mariupol – what they are doing now – can put an end to any kind of negotiation,” he said.
Later, in his nightly video conference for the Nation, Zhelensky said that Ukraine needed more Western support to save Mariupol.
“Our partners can immediately provide Ukraine with heavy weapons, aircraft and without exaggeration, so we can reduce the occupiers’ pressure on Mariupol and break the siege,” he said, “or we will do it through negotiations. The role of our allies must be decisive.”
Zhelensky said the situation in Mariupol was “inhumane” and that Russia was “deliberately trying to destroy everyone there.”
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had been evacuated from most of the city and were confined to the large Azovstal steel plant.
The capture of Mariupol would allow Russian forces in the south, which came through the annexed Crimean peninsula, to fully integrate with troops in the Donbass region, the eastern industrial hub of Ukraine.
Zelenskyy estimates that between 2,500 and 3,000 Ukrainian troops were killed and about 10,000 wounded in the war. The Office of the Attorney General of Ukraine said on Saturday that at least 200 children had been killed and more than 360 injured.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vareshuk said on Saturday that Russian forces had captured about 700 Ukrainian troops and more than 1,000 civilians. Ukraine holds the same number of Russian troops as prisoners and wants to arrange a transfer, but “demands the unconditional release of civilians,” he said.
Russia’s warning of attacks on Kiev came on Thursday, following Ukraine’s accusations that seven people had been injured in airstrikes in Bryansk on the Ukrainian border and that about 100 residential buildings had been damaged. Ukrainian officials have not confirmed whether Russia hit the targets.
Russian Maj. Gen. Vladimir Frolov, who was one of those who besieged Mariupol, died in battle and was buried Saturday in St. Petersburg, Governor Alexander Beklov said. Ukraine says several Russian generals and dozens of other high-ranking officials have been killed in the war.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis on Saturday called for “gestures of peace in these days marked by the horrors of war” during an Easter vigil prayer at St. Peter’s Basilica attended by the mayor of the occupied Ukrainian city of Melidopol and three members. Parliament of Ukraine. Francis did not directly mention Russia’s invasion, but called for an Easter ceasefire and peace.
Contributes: Jessica Fish, Robert Burns and Associated Press journalists around the world
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