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Russia-Ukraine crisis: Forces retake key Kyiv suburb; battle for Mariupol rages

Kremlin’s ground offensive in other parts of the country advances slowly



AFP
AFP

By AP

Published: Tue 22 Mar 2022, 1:09 PM

Last updated: Tue 22 Mar 2022, 2:09 PM

Ukrainian forces said they retook a strategically important suburb of the capital early Tuesday, while Russia’s attack on the embattled southern port of Mariupol raged unabated, with fleeing civilians describing relentless bombardments and corpses lying in the streets.

While Russian forces carried on with the siege of Mariupol after the southern port city’s defenders refused demands to surrender, the Kremlin’s ground offensive in other parts of the country advanced slowly or not at all, knocked back by lethal hit-and-run attacks by the Ukrainians.

Early Tuesday, Ukrainian troops forced Russian forces out of the Kyiv suburb of Makariv after a fierce battle, Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said. The regained territory allowed Ukrainian forces to retake control of a key highway and block Russian troops from surrounding Kyiv from the northwest.

But the Defense Ministry said Russian forces battling toward Kyiv were able to partially take other northwest suburbs, Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin, some of which had been under attack almost since Russia’s military attacked late last month.

A senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the military’s assessment, said Russia had increased air sorties over the past two days, carrying out as many as 300 in the past 24 hours, and has fired more than 1,100 missiles into Ukraine since the assault began.

US President Joe Biden, who is heading to Europe later in the week to meet with allies, suggested Monday evening that worse may be still to come.

“Putin’s back is against the wall,” Biden said. “He wasn’t anticipating the extent or the strength of our unity. And the more his back is against the wall, the greater the severity of the tactics he may employ.”

Biden reiterated accusations that Putin is considering resorting to using chemical weapons.

In a video address Monday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed those who have fought back against Russia.

“There is no need to organize resistance,” Zelensky said. “Resistance for Ukrainians is part of their soul.”

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Talks between Russia and Ukraine have continued by video but failed to bridge the chasm between the two sides. Zelensky told Ukrainian television late Monday that he would be prepared to consider waiving any Nato bid by Ukraine — a key Russian demand — in exchange for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and a guarantee of Ukraine’s security.

Zelensky also suggested Kyiv would be open to future discussions on the status of Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014, and the regions of the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists. But he said that was a topic for another time. Zelensky plans to speak to Japanese lawmakers on Tuesday, part of a series of addresses to foreign legislatures as he seeks to drum up support.


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