Ukraine sees openings as Russia fixes on beleagured Mariupol

By NEBI QENA and YURAS KARMANAU – Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) – Residents of Ukraine’s beleagured southeast coast were waiting for possible evacuation on Sunday as the country’s president said Russia’s obsession with capturing a major port city had weakened its forces and provided opportunities for its military. created.

Two loud explosions were heard in Odesa on the Black Sea, and black smoke was seen rising above the city, this is where Ukraine’s navy is headquartered. It is west of Mariupol, a smaller port that has been attacked almost the entire war and rescuers are desperate to reach it.

The city council of Odesa said in a brief statement that a morning air strike has caused fires in some areas. The Russian military said hours later that it had used ships and aircraft-powered missiles to hit an oil processing plant and fuel depots supplied by Ukrainian troops.

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The city council said Ukraine’s air defense had fired several missiles before hitting the city. Vladyslav Nazarov, spokesman for the Ukrainian army, said there were no casualties from the attack.

In Mariupol, conditions remained appalling and prospects for escape uncertain. The surrounding city, plagued by some of the worst attacks in the war, reported weeks ago that water, food, fuel and medicine were running out. About 100,000 people are believed to still be there, less than a quarter of the city’s pre-war population of 430,000.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it hoped a team they had sent to help evacuate residents would reach Mariupol on Sunday. Ukrainian authorities said Russia had agreed days ago to allow safe passage of the city, but similar agreements have repeatedly broken under continued protection.

Mariupol is in the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region, where Moscow-backed separatist Ukrainian troops have been fighting for eight years. Its capture would create an uninterrupted land corridor from Russia to Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

With Mariupol squarely in Russia’s sights, Ukraine maintains that it has gained an edge elsewhere in the country. While his country’s troops recaptured territory north of the capital Kiev from departing Russian troops, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on all Ukrainians to do whatever they could “to thwart the enemy’s tactics and weaken its capabilities. . “

“Peace will not be the result of any decisions that the enemy makes somewhere in Moscow. It is not necessary to cherish empty hopes that they will simply leave our country. We can only have peace by fighting, “Zelenskyy said late on Saturday.

Zelenskyy and Ukraine’s Western allies believe that Russia has shifted its forces from the capital region and the country’s north to build up power in the east and south. The Ukrainian leader has again urged the West to provide its army with warplanes and more anti-missile systems.

“Every Russian missile hitting our cities and every bomb dropped on our people, on our children, adds only black paint to the history that will describe everyone on whom the decision depended – the decision to help Ukraine with modern weapons, “Zelenskyy said.

While the battlefield geography has changed, for many Ukrainians little has changed in more than five weeks into a war that has left more than 4 million people fleeing the country as refugees and displacing millions more from their homes.

The Kharkiv regional governor said on Sunday that Russian artillery and tanks had carried out more than 20 attacks on Ukraine’s second largest city and its suburbs in the country’s northeast. Governor Oleh Synyehubov said a missile attack on the city of Lozovo wounded four people and that Russian tanks bombed a hospital in the town of Balakliia.

Zelenskyy claimed on Saturday that Russian troops had left mines around houses, abandoned equipment and even the bodies of the dead as they withdrew from around Kiev. Those allegations could not be independently verified, but Ukrainian troops were seen heeding the warning.

In Bucha, northwest of the capital, Associated Press journalists watched as Ukrainian soldiers, backed by a column of tanks and other armored vehicles, used cables to tow bodies from a distance off a street for fear they might is trapped. Locals said the dead – Associated Press numbered at least six – were civilians killed without being provoked by departing Russian soldiers.

In towns and cities around Kiev, there were signs of heavy fighting everywhere in the wake of the Russian redeployment. Destroyed armored vehicles of both armies lay in streets and fields along with scattered military equipment.

Ukrainian troops were stationed at the entrance of the Antonov airport in the suburb of Hostomel, demonstrating control of the runway that Russia was trying to storm in the first days of the war.

Inside the complex, the Mriya, one of the largest aircraft yet built, lay under a hangar packed with holes from the February attack.

The head of Ukraine’s delegation in talks with Russia said Moscow’s negotiators had informally agreed to most of a draft proposal discussed during face-to-face talks in Istanbul this week, but no written confirmation was provided.

The Ukrainian negotiator, Davyd Arakhamia, said on Ukrainian TV that he hopes the has been developed enough for the two countries’ presidents to meet to discuss it.

Ukrainian authorities have warned that Russia’s focus on eastern Ukraine does not mean that Kiev and other cities will not become targets again. In his evening speech on Saturday, Zelenskyy called on his people to do everything they can to ensure the country’s survival, even by participating in acts as simple as showing kindness to one another.

“When a nation defends itself in a war of extermination, when it is a matter of life or death of millions, there are no unimportant things. “And everyone can contribute to a victory for everyone,” the president said.

Karmanau reports from Lviv, Ukraine. Andrea Rosa in Irpin, Ukraine, and Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

Follow the Associated Press’s coverage of the war at

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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