June 16, 2024

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Russian missiles targeting eastern and southern Ukraine; Some civilians are leaving the Mariupol factory

Russian missiles targeting eastern and southern Ukraine;  Some civilians are leaving the Mariupol factory
  • Moscow escalates its offensive in southern and eastern Donbass
  • 20 civilians evacuated from Mariupol Steel Factory
  • Odessa, Luhansk and Donetsk airports hit by missiles

DOPRILIA/KYIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russia pounded southern and eastern Ukraine with missile strikes on Saturday, as some women and children evacuated a steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol where they were holed up for more, Ukrainian officials said. From a week ago.

Moscow shifted its focus to southern and eastern Ukraine after it failed to capture the capital, Kyiv, in a nine-week offensive that flattened cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than five million to flee abroad.

Its forces captured the town of Kherson in the south, gave it a foothold just 100 kilometers north of Russia-annexed Crimea, and occupied mostly Mariupol, the strategic eastern port city on the Sea of ​​Azov.

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Russia declared victory in Mariupol on April 21 even as hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians took refuge in Azovstal’s steel mills.

The United Nations urged an evacuation deal. On Saturday, a Ukrainian fighter inside said about 20 women and children survived.

“We’re pulling civilians out of the rubble with ropes – they’re old people, women and children,” said the fighter, Svyatoslav Palamar, pointing to the wreckage inside the 4 square kilometer (1.5 square mile) plant.

Palamar said Russia and Ukraine respect a local ceasefire, and hoped that the evacuees would be moved to the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia to the northwest.

There was no comment from Russia or the United Nations on the evacuations. Ukrainian officials said hundreds of Ukrainians are still inside steel plants.

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The region’s governor, Maxim Marchenko, said that a Russian missile fired from Crimea destroyed the main airport runway in the city of Odessa to the west, but no one was hurt. Read more

The Ukrainian military said the airport could no longer be used. President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to rebuild it, saying in a late-night video address, “Odessa will never forget Russia’s behavior towards it.”

Ukrainian officials said there was no comment on the strike from Moscow, whose forces have intermittently targeted Ukraine’s third largest city, where eight people were killed in a recent Russian raid.

Moscow’s offensive in the south is aimed in part at linking the region with Crimea as it pushes for full control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, where Russian-backed separatists already controlled parts of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces before invading Moscow on February 24.

In his speech, Zelensky said that Russia is “gathering additional forces to launch new attacks against our army in the east of the country” and “is trying to increase pressure in the Donbass.”

Moscow describes its actions as a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of the anti-Russian nationalism stoked by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unjustified war of aggression.

Despite weeks of peace talks, the two sides appeared further apart than ever on Saturday.

Ukraine accuses Russian forces of committing atrocities in areas near Kyiv in early April, which Moscow denied. The negotiators last met face-to-face on March 29, and have since spoken via video link.

The United States and its European allies imposed sweeping sanctions on the Russian economy and provided Ukraine with arms and humanitarian aid.

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US President Joe Biden is seeking a $33 billion aid package for Kiev, including $20 billion for weapons.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that his country would continue to “provide Ukrainians with the equipment they need to defend themselves”.

In the Donetsk town of Dopropylya, an aftershock from Saturday’s strike blew out the windows of an apartment building and left a large crater in the yard.

As he stood in his living room, a resident who only gave his first name, Andrei, said his partner had lost consciousness. “Thank God,” he said, “the four children were in the kitchen.”

People sifted their possessions to save what they could.

“At about 9:20 a.m., such happiness flew into our house,” said another resident, Ole, sarcastically. “Everything is destroyed.”

Russia has reported more Ukrainian strikes on its territory.

Officials in the Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine and Belarus, said air defenses had driven away a Ukrainian plane, but the resulting bombing hit parts of a Russian oil terminal.

The regional governor, Roman Starovit, said several shells were fired from Ukraine towards a Russian checkpoint south of Bryansk, in Kursk, another border region, but without causing casualties or damage.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for such incidents, but described the series of bombings in southern Russia on Wednesday as a response and “karma” to the invasion of Moscow. Read more

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Additional reporting by Hamouda Hasan and George Silva in Dopropylya, Ukraine, and Natalia Zenets in Kyiv; Additional coverage by Reuters journalists. Written by Rami Ayoub and Clarence Fernandez. Editing by Hugh Lawson, Daniel Wallis and William Mallard

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