Sunday, October 2, 2022

Mariupol’s death toll rises to 5,000 as Ukraine braces east

ANDRIIVKA, Ukraine – ( Associated Press) – The mayor of the besieged port city of Mariupol put the number of civilians killed there at more than 5,000 on Wednesday, as Ukraine gathered evidence of Russian atrocities on the ruined outskirts of Kyiv and what could have become Climate battle for control of the country’s industrial east.

Ukrainian authorities continued to collect dead in scattered cities outside the capital amid signs that Moscow’s troops indiscriminately killed civilians before retreating for the past several days.

In other developments, the US and its Western allies moved to impose new sanctions against the Kremlin, which they branded war crimes.

A US defense official said on condition of anonymity that Russia had completed the withdrawal of all of its estimated 24,000 or more troops from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions in the north, sending them to Belarus or Russia to resupply and reorganize. Have given.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow is now marshalling reinforcements and trying to push deeper into the country’s east, where the Kremlin has said it is targeting Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking industrial stronghold Donbass. to free”.

“The fate of our land and our people is being decided. We know what we are fighting for. And we will do everything to win,” said Zelensky, six weeks into the war.

Ukrainian officials are urging people living in the Donbass to evacuate before an imminent Russian offensive, while there is still time.

“Later, the people will come under fire,” said Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk, “and we will not be able to do anything to help them.”

A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence estimates, said it would take up to a month for Russia’s war-damaged forces to regroup to make a major push on eastern Ukraine.

Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boichenko said 210 of the more than 5,000 civilians killed during Russian bombings and street fighting were children. He said the Russian military bombed hospitals, including a hospital where 50 people died in burns.

Boichenko said that more than 90% of the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed. Attacks on the strategic southern city on the Sea of ​​Azov have cut off food, water, fuel and medicine, and shattered homes and businesses.

British defense officials said 160,000 people were trapped in the city, which had a population of 430,000. A humanitarian relief convoy with the Red Cross has been trying for days to break into the city.

Capturing Mariupol would allow Russia to secure a continuous land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

In the north, Ukrainian officials said bodies of at least 410 civilians had been found in cities around Kyiv, in what Zelensky portrays as a Russian campaign of murder, rape, dismemberment and torture. Some of the victims were apparently shot at close range. Some hands were found tied.

At a cemetery in the city of Bucha, workers began loading more than 60 bodies apparently collected over the past few days into a grocery shipping truck to be transported to a facility for further investigation.

More bodies were yet to be collected at Bucha. The Associated Press reported seeing two in a house in a quiet neighborhood. From time to time there were crowds of workers clearing the city’s mines and other non-exploded ordnance.

Police said they found at least 20 bodies in the Makarev area, west of Kyiv. In the village of Andreevka, residents said Russians arrived in early March and took the locals’ phones. Some were detained, then released. Others met by unknown fate. Some describe the use of shelters, usually for weeks in the cellar, for storing vegetables for the winter.

The soldiers were gone, and Russian armored personnel carriers, a tank and other vehicles were destroyed at both ends of the road running through the village. Many buildings were converted to mounds of bricks and corrugated metal. Residents struggled without heat, electricity or cooking gas.

“At first we were scared, now we are hysterical,” said 64-year-old Valentina Klimenko. She said she, her husband and two neighbors weathered the siege by sleeping on a pile of potatoes covered with a mattress and blanket. “We didn’t cry before. Now we are crying.”

To the north of the village, in the town of Borodyanka, rescue workers searched through the rubble of the apartment block in search of bodies. Mine-disposal units worked nearby.

The Kremlin has insisted that its troops have committed no war crimes, alleging that the images outside of Buka were staged by Ukrainians.

An increasing number of President Vladimir Putin’s troops, accompanied by mercenaries, are reported to have moved into the Donbass, failing in their attempts to rapidly capture the capital.

At least five people were killed on Wednesday in the Donetsk region of Donbass by Russian shelling, according to Governor Pavlo Kirilenko, who urged citizens to move to safer areas.

The regional governor reported that in the Luhansk region of Donbass, Russian bombing set fire to at least 10 multi-storey buildings and a mall in the city of Svyarodonetsk. There was no immediate word on deaths or injuries.

Officials said Russian forces also attacked a fuel depot and a factory in the Dnipropetrovsk region, west of the Donbass.

The Ukrainian military has been fighting Russia-backed separatists in the Donbass since 2014. Before the February 24 invasion, Moscow recognized the Luhansk and Donetsk regions as independent states.

In response to alleged atrocities outside Kyiv, the US announced sanctions against two of Putin’s adult daughters and said it was toughening penalties against Russian banks. Britain banned investment in Russia and pledged to end its dependence on Russian coal and oil by the end of the year.

The EU is also expected to take additional punitive measures, including a ban on coal.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, aid group Doctors Without Borders said its staff witnessed an attack on a cancer hospital in the southern city of Mykolaiv on Monday. The group said it was the third known strike in recent days on a hospital in the port city, the capture of which holds the key to giving Russia control of the Black Sea coast.

It said it did not have an overall death toll, but that its team found a body.


Oleksandr Stashevsky and Kara Anna in Buka, Ukraine, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and Associated Press journalists from around the world contributed to this report.


Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the war

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