Russia strikes Kyiv suburb, presses offensive in Mariupol

Russian defence ministry says it has cleared entire urban area of port city



A serviceman stands at a building damaged during fighting in Mariupol. – AP
A serviceman stands at a building damaged during fighting in Mariupol. – AP

By Reuters

Published: Sat 16 Apr 2022, 10:44 PM

Last updated: Sun 17 Apr 2022, 12:00 AM

Russian air raids and missile strikes hit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and other major cities on Saturday as Moscow launched more long-range attacks following the sinking of its Black Sea fleet’s flagship.

In the besieged port of Mariupol, scene of the war’s heaviest fighting and worst humanitarian catastrophe, Russian troops pressed their advances, hoping to make up for their failure to capture Kyiv by seizing their first big prize of the war.

“The situation is very difficult” in Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the Ukrainska Pravda news portal.

“Our soldiers are blocked, the wounded are blocked. There is a humanitarian crisis ... Nevertheless, the guys are defending themselves.”

Moscow said its warplanes had struck a tank repair factory in Kyiv. An explosion was heard and smoke rose over the southeastern Darnytskyi district. The mayor said at least one person was killed and medics were fighting to save others.

Russian planes that took off from Belarus

The Ukrainian military said Russian warplanes that took off from Belarus had fired missiles at the Lviv region near the Polish border and four cruise missiles were shot down by Ukrainian air defences.

The western city has been relatively unscathed so far and serves as a haven for refugees and international aid agencies.

In Mariupol, Reuters journalists in Russian-held districts reached the Ilyich steelworks, one of two metals plants where defenders have held out in underground tunnels and bunkers. Moscow claimed to have captured it on Friday.

The factory was reduced to a ruin of twisted steel and blasted concrete, with no sign of defenders present. Several bodies of civilians lay scattered on nearby streets, including a woman in a pink parka and white shoes.

Someone had spray-painted “mined” on a fence by an obliterated filling station. In a rare sign of life, one red car drove slowly down an otherwise empty street, the word “children” scrawled on a card taped to the windshield.

The Russian defence ministry said its troops had cleared the entire urban area of Mariupol of Ukrainian forces and had blockaded a few fighters in the Azovstal steelworks, RIA news agency said. It cited ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying that as of Saturday, Ukrainian forces in the city had lost more than 4,000 people.

The governor of Kharkiv province in the east said at least one person had been killed and 18 were injured in a missile strike.

In Mykolaiv, a city close to the southern front, Russia said it had struck a military vehicle repair factory.

Russia’s Defence Ministry published video of the head of the navy, Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, meeting on a parade ground with about a hundred sailors it said were members of the crew.

Mariupol will always be Ukraine

If Mariupol falls it would be Russia’s biggest prize of the war so far. It is the main port of the Donbas, a region of two provinces in the southeast which Moscow demands be fully ceded to separatists.

The owner of both of the giant steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine’s richest man Rinat Akhmetov, vowed to rebuild the city. “Mariupol has been and will always be a Ukrainian city,” Akhmetov told Reuters.

Ukraine says it has so far held off Russian advances elsewhere in the Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where at least one person was killed in shelling overnight.

In the front-line Luhansk town of Lysychansk, civilians crouched and then fled for safety from incoming shells as thick smoke rose from a blackened shop and burned-out cars.

An advisor to Zelenskiy said the country needed a swifter supply of weapons from its European Union partners. “Ukraine needs weapons. Not in a month. Now,” Mykhailo Podolyak said in a Twitter post.

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Zelenskiy said about 2,500-3,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed so far and up to 20,000 Russian troops.

Moscow has given no updates on its casualties since March 25, when it said 1,351 had died. Western estimates of Russian losses are many times higher, while there are few independent estimates of Ukraine’s losses.


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