© Reuters. A view shows residential buildings destroyed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on April 29, 2022, in the city of Irpin outside Kyiv, Ukraine. Image taken with a drone. Reuters/Valentin Ogirenko
by Hamuda Hassan, George Silva and Natalia Zinets
DOBROPILLIA, Ukraine/KYIV (Reuters) – The Russians launched missile strikes in southern and eastern Ukraine on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said, and some women and children were evacuated from a steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol. one week.
Moscow has turned its attention to Ukraine’s south and east, failing to capture the capital Kyiv in a nine-week attack that has leveled cities, killed thousands of civilians and killed more than 5 million people. forced to flee abroad.
Its forces occupied the city of Kherson in the south, giving them a foothold just 100 km (62 mi) north of Russia-associated Crimea, and mostly captured Mariupol, a strategic eastern port city on the Azov Sea. Is.
Russia declared victory at Mariupol on 21 April, while hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians took refuge at the Azovstal Steel Works. The United Nations has urged an evacuation agreement, and on Saturday, a Ukrainian fighter inside said some 20 women and children had made it out.
“We are pulling civilians out of the rubble with ropes – it’s the elderly, women and children,” said the fighter, Svyatoslav Palmar, referring to the debris within the 4 sq km plant.
Palmar said both Russia and Ukraine are respecting a local ceasefire, and he hopes the evacuated civilians will be transferred to the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhya in the northwest.
There was no Russian comment on the evacuation. According to Ukrainian officials, hundreds of Ukrainians are inside.
To the west in Odessa, which has so far been relatively unaffected in the war, a Russian missile attack launched from Crimea destroyed the runway at the main airport, Odesda’s regional governor Maxim Marchenko said.
“Thank God no one was hurt. Anti-sabotage measures are being taken in the area,” Marchenko said. Ukraine’s military said the airport could no longer be used.
There was no immediate comment on the strike from Moscow, whose military sporadically targeted Ukraine’s third-largest city, Odessa. Ukrainian officials said eight people were killed in a Russian attack on the city last week.
Moscow’s attack in the south aims to annex the region to Crimea as it pushes for full control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Parts of the Donbass’s two provinces, Luhansk and Donetsk, were already controlled by Russian-backed separatists before the February 24 invasion of Moscow.
Moscow called its actions a “special campaign” to disarm Ukraine and get rid of anti-Russian nationalism fueled by the West. Ukraine and the West maintain that Russia waged an aggressive war without provocation.
Despite weeks of peace talks, the two sides looked as far-off as ever on Saturday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said lifting Western sanctions on Moscow was part of talks, but Ukraine’s senior negotiator Mykhailo Podolik denied this.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted that the sanctions needed to be strengthened and could not be negotiated. He warned on Friday that talks could fail in what he called Russia’s “playbook on killing people”.
Ukraine accused Russian troops of atrocities as they withdrew from areas near Kyiv in early April. Moscow denies the claims. The interlocutors last met face-to-face on March 29, and have spoken by video link since then.
The United States and its European allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia’s economy and provided arms and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden is seeking a $33 billion aid package for Kyiv, including $20 billion for weapons, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that his country will “continue to give the Ukrainians the equipment they need”. which they need to protect themselves.”
Lavrov said that if Washington and its allies in the US-led NATO military alliance really wanted to solve the crisis, they should stop sending weapons to Kyiv.
In the city of Dobropilia, Donetsk, shockwaves from a strike on Saturday blew into the windows of an apartment building and left a large crater in the yard.
One resident, who gave only his first name of Andrey, said his partner was in a room in front of the yard at the time of the attack and had fainted.
“Thank God there were four kids in the kitchen,” she said, standing in the destroyed living room.
Residents scrutinized their belongings to see what could be salvaged.
“At about 9:20 this happiness moved to our house,” said Oleh, another resident, sarcastically. “Everything is destroyed.”
Russia on Saturday reported more Ukrainian attacks on its territory.
Authorities in Russia’s Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine and Belarus, said air security had blocked a Ukrainian plane from entering. He said the resulting shelling affected parts of a Russian oil terminal.
Kursk Governor Roman Starovit said several shells were fired from Ukraine towards a Russian outpost on the Ukrainian border, south of Bryansk in Russia’s Kursk region. He said there were no casualties or damage.
Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility for such incidents on Russian territory. But it described a series of blasts Wednesday in Russia’s south as “karma” for the withdrawal and invasion of Moscow.