by Adam Schreck and Andrea Rosa
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 in what could be a climax. , ready for that. The fight 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.
And Russia 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 re-supply and reorganize, perhaps to return to battle in the east, an American defense. The officer was speaking said on condition of anonymity.
In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the Russian military would continue to build up its forces in preparation for a new offensive in the east, where the Kremlin has said it aims to “liberate” Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking Donbass. . Industrial heartland. He said that Ukraine is also preparing for war.
He said, ‘We will fight and will not back down. “We will explore all possible options to defend ourselves until Russia begins to seriously seek peace. This is our land. This is our future. And we will not give up on them.”
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 Buka, northeast of Kyiv, workers load 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 Started.
Zelensky accused Russia of interfering with international investigations into possible war crimes by removing corpses and trying to hide other evidence at Bucha.
“We are aware that Russian troops have changed tactics and are trying to clear dead people, dead Ukrainians, from the streets and dungeons of their occupied territory,” he said in his address. “It is just an attempt to hide evidence and nothing else.”
Switching from Ukrainian to Russian, Zelensky urged ordinary Russians to “equate themselves with the Nazis for the rest of their lives” rather than “somehow face the Russian oppressive machine”.
He called on the Russians to demand an end to the war, “if you have even the slightest shame about what the Russian military is doing in Ukraine.”
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.
Meanwhile, the United States and the United Kingdom boycotted an informal meeting of the Security Council convened by Russia, saying the US has biological warfare laboratories in Ukraine.
The meeting was the latest in a series of moves by Russia, which has led Western countries to accuse Moscow of using the United Nations as a platform for propaganda to divert attention from the war.
Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky, who presided over the meeting, stressed that Ukraine, backed by the US, was implementing dangerous projects and experiments as part of a military biological program.
The allegations have already been dismissed. Ukraine owns and operates a network of biological laboratories that have received funding and research support from the US and are no secret. The laboratories are part of a program that aims to reduce the likelihood of deadly outbreaks, whether natural or man-made.
US efforts to work to eliminate the former Soviet Union’s weapons of mass destruction program began in the 1990s.
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.
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