The United Nations doggedly sought to broker an evacuation of civilians from the increasingly hellish ruins of Mariupol on Friday, while Ukraine accused Russia of showing its contempt for the world organization by bombing Kyiv while the UN leader was visiting the capital.
The mayor of Mariupol said the situation inside the steel plant that has become the southern port city's last stronghold is dire, and citizens are "begging to get saved." Mayor Vadym Boichenko added: "There, it's not a matter of days. It's a matter of hours."
Ukraine's forces, meanwhile, fought to hold off Russian attempts to advance in the south and east, where the Kremlin is seeking to capture the country's industrial Donbas region. Artillery fire, sirens and explosions could be heard in some cities.
A former US Marine was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, his family said in what would be the fighting's first known death of an American in combat. The US has not confirmed the report.
Ukrainian forces are cracking down on people accused of helping Russian troops. In the Kharkiv region alone, nearly 400 have been detained under anti-collaboration laws enacted after Moscow's Feb. 24 attack.
The international sanctions imposed on the Kremlin over the fighting are squeezing the country. The Russian Central Bank said Russia's economy is expected to contract by up to 10% this year, and the outlook is "extremely uncertain."
US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said one of its journalists, Vira Hyrych, was killed in the bombardment. Ten people were wounded, one of them losing a leg, authorities said.
The missile strike came barely an hour after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a news conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
"This says a lot about Russia's true attitude toward global institutions, about attempts of the Russian leadership to humiliate the UN and everything the organization represents," Zelensky said.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the attack was Russian President Vladimir Putin's way of giving "his middle finger" to Guterres.
In an apparent reference to the Kyiv bombing, Russia's military said it had destroyed "production buildings" at the Artem defense factory.
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