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Ukraine's armed forces braced on Monday for a new Russian offensive as powerful explosions rocked cities in the south and east, while Austria's leader planned to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and call for an end to the conflict.
Russia's operation has forced about a quarter of Ukraine's 44 million people from their homes, turned cities into rubble and killed or injured thousands.
It has failed to take any major cities, but Ukraine says Moscow has been gathering its forces in the east for a major offensive and has urged people to flee.
Since Russia's attack, Zelensky has appealed to Western powers to provide more defence help, and to punish Moscow with tougher sanctions including embargoes on its energy exports.
Zelensky said earlier on Twitter he had spoken on the phone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about additional sanctions, as well as more defence and financial support for his country. Zelensky also discussed with Ukrainian officials Kyiv's proposals for a new package of EU sanctions, his office said.
Moscow has rejected accusations of war crimes by Ukraine and Western countries.
11.20pm: Ukraine says Russia holding many civilians in prisons
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister on Monday accused Russia of holding civilians, including journalists, activists and elected officials, in prisons on Russian territory.
“We have many priests, journalists, activists, mayors, and in general civilians who are in prisons, not, for example, even on the territory of Ukraine, but in (the) Kursk, Bryansk, Rostov (regions of Russia)... They are forcibly held” there, Iryna Vereshchuk said in televised comments.
Russian has repeatedly denied targeting civilians.
10.13pm: Ukraine finds 7 bodies in rubble of ruined town near Kyiv
Ukraine recovered the bodies of seven people buried in the rubble of two destroyed high-rise housing blocks in the town of Borodyanka near Kyiv on Monday, the state emergencies service said.
More than two hundred rescue workers have been scrambling to find missing residents since Ukraine retook the city west of Kyiv after Russian troops began pulling back from the region late last month.
9.31pm: Mariupol mayor says siege has killed more than 10,000 civilians
The mayor of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol said Monday that more than 10,000 civilians have died in the Russian siege of his city, and that the death toll could surpass 20,000, with corpses that were “carpeted through the streets.”
Speaking by phone Monday to The Associated Press, Mayor Vadym Boychenko also said Russian forces brought mobile cremation equipment to the city to dispose of the bodies, and he accused Russian forces of refusing to allow humanitarian convoys into the city in an attempt to conceal the carnage.
7.30pm: Ukraine braces for fall of Mariupol, Russian assault on east
Ukraine steeled itself on Monday for what could be the imminent fall of Mariupol to Russian troops as President Volodymyr Zelensky said he believed “tens of thousands” of people had been killed in Moscow’s assault on the strategic southern port city.
With the war grinding toward its seventh week, Ukrainian forces said they were also bolstering their positions in the east ahead of an anticipated massive Russian campaign.
Austria’s chancellor meanwhile became the first European leader to visit Moscow since the Russian invasion, saying he would raise alleged war crimes in devastated areas around Kyiv that had been under Russian occupation.
7.15pm: Pro-Russia separatists claim control of Mariupol port
A pro-Russia rebel leader said Monday that separatist forces in eastern Ukraine have taken control of the port of the strategic city of Mariupol.
“Regarding the port of Mariupol, it is already under our control,” Denis Pushilin, leader of the separatists in the breakaway Donetsk region, said in televised remarks.
AFP could not independently verify these claims.
Russian troops have for over a month besieged Mariupol on the shores of the Sea of Azov.
Thousands of civilians are believed to have died there since the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
Eduard Basurin, a senior official in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, said the remaining Ukrainian forces in Mariupol were concentrated in the city’s large Azovstal metallurgical plant.
3pm: Ukrainian forces ready for ‘last battle’ in Mariupol
Ukrainian forces are preparing for a “last battle” to control the southern port of Mariupol, besieged by Russians since the incursion, marines in the city said Monday.
“Today will probably be the last battle, as the ammunition is running out,” the 36th marine brigade of the Ukrainian armed forces said on Facebook.
“It’s death for some of us, and captivity for the rest,” it added, saying it had been “pushed back” and “surrounded” by the Russian army.
2.15pm: France sends police officers to Ukraine to probe Russian ‘war crimes’
French police officers arrived in Ukraine on Monday to help the country investigate alleged Russian war crimes after hundreds of civilian bodies were discovered in towns around Kyiv, the French ambassador to Ukraine said.
“Proud to welcome to Lviv the detachment of technical and scientific gendarmes who came to assist their comrades in investigations of war crimes committed near Kyiv,” Etienne de Poncins said on Twitter.
“France is the first to provide such help. They will start work tomorrow.”
He posted a photo of around 20 uniformed investigators standing by a mobile laboratory van in the western city of Lviv.
2pm: Ukraine repulses attacks in east
Ukrainian troops have repulsed several Russian assaults in the country’s east, British intelligence said on Monday, while President Volodymyr Zelensky said thousands of Russian soldiers were massing for a new offensive.
Russian forces were also pushing to establish control over the southern port city of Mariupol, the lynchpin between Russian-held areas to the west and east.
12.59pm: Ukraine’s Zelensky says tens of thousands likely killed in Mariupol
Tens of thousands of people have likely been killed in Russia’s assault on the southeastern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday.
“Mariupol has been destroyed, there are tens of thousands of dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive,” Zelensky said in a video address to South Korean lawmakers.
12.35pm: Norway extends Lithuania troop deployment until August, ministry says
Norway will extend its current NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) troop deployment in Lithuania meaning all of its 200 troops will remain until August following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the Norwegian defence ministry said on Monday.
The deployment was increased in February by around 50 troops on a three-month basis, and this deployment has been extended by three more months.
Norway said it also plans to contribute troops to the eFP beyond August, but did not say how many would be deployed.
12.30pm: We need more help if we are to survive this war, says Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his country needs more help if Ukraine is to survive this war.
Moscow is concentrating tens of thousands of soldiers for next offensive will not stop unless it is forced to stop, Zelensky added.
12.15pm: Germany sees ‘massive indications’ of war crimes in Ukraine
Germany sees massive indications of war crimes in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Monday.
“We have massive indications of war crimes,” she told reporters before a meeting with fellow European ministers in Luxembourg. “In the end, the courts will have to decide, but for us, it is central to secure all evidence.”
“As the German federal government, we have already made it clear that there will be a complete phase-out of fossil fuels, starting with coal, then oil and gas, and so that this can be implemented jointly in the European Union, we need a joint, coordinated plan to completely phase out fossil fuels to be able to withdraw as a European Union,” she added.
12pm: Ukrainian defenders dig in as Russia boosts firepower
A showdown looms in Ukraine after Russia appointed a new military commander and looked to concentrate its attacks in the east, while Ukraine’s president said his troops will hold their ground, urging Western leaders, in particular President Joe Biden, to do more.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Sunday in a nightly address that this week will be as crucial as any during the war, saying “Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state.”
11.20am: Ukraine says nine humanitarian corridors agreed for Monday
Nine humanitarian corridors to evacuate people from Ukraine's besieged eastern regions have been agreed for Monday between Kyiv and Moscow, including five in the Luhansk region, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
The planned corridors include one for people evacuating by private transport from the city of Mariupol, Vereshchuk said.
11.00am: Austrian leader heads to Moscow as Ukraine prepares for eastern offensive
Austria’s chancellor on Monday will become the first European leader to visit Moscow since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, as Kyiv prepares for a huge Russian offensive in the country’s east.
Karl Nehammer said he would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is expected to raise alleged war crimes in devastated areas around Kyiv that were under Russian occupation, including the town of Bucha.
Ukrainian authorities say over 1,200 bodies have been found in the area so far and that they are weighing cases against “500 suspects” including Putin and other top Russian officials.
Russian forces are now turning their focus to the Donbas region in the east, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian troops were preparing “even larger operations”.
Russia is believed to be seeking a link between occupied Crimea and Moscow-backed separatist territories Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbas.
“They can use even more missiles against us... But we are preparing for their actions. We will answer,” Zelensky said.
6.30am: Chechen chief Kadyrov says Russian forces will take Kyiv
Ramzan Kadyrov, the powerful head of Russia's republic of Chechnya, said early on Monday that there will be an offensive by Russian forces not only on the besieged port of Mariupol, but also on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.
Luhansk and Donetsk - we will fully liberate in the first place ... and then take Kyiv and all other cities
"There will be an offensive ... not only on Mariupol, but also on other places, cities and villages," Kadyrov said in a video posted on his Telegram channel.
"Luhansk and Donetsk - we will fully liberate in the first place ... and then take Kyiv and all other cities."
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