Russia pounding Ukraine, civilians evacuated from Mariupol steel plant
- Moscow steps up assault in southern Ukraine and eastern Donbass
- Women, children and the elderly evacuated from Mariupol steel plant
- Odessa airport, Luhansk and Donetsk hit by missiles
- Officials offer conflicting views on peace talks
DOBROPILLIA, Ukraine/KYIV, April 30 (Reuters) – Russia launched missile strikes in southern and eastern Ukraine on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said, and women and children were evacuated from a steel mill in the besieged city of Mariupol after being locked up. been there for over a week.
Moscow has focused on southern and eastern Ukraine after failing to capture the capital Kyiv in a nine-week assault that razed cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 5 million people to flee abroad.
His forces captured the city of Kherson in the south, giving them a foothold just 100 km (62 miles) north of Russian-annexed Crimea, and mainly occupied Mariupol, a strategic eastern port city on the Atlantic Sea. Azov.
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Russia declared victory in Mariupol on April 21 even as hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians took refuge in the Azovstal steelworks. The United Nations demanded an evacuation agreement and on Saturday a Ukrainian fighter inside said about 20 women and children had escaped.
“We pull civilians out of the rubble with ropes – they are old people, women and children,” fighter Sviatoslav Palamar said, referring to the rubble in the 4 km2 factory.
Palamar said Russia and Ukraine were respecting a local ceasefire and he hoped evacuated civilians would be moved to the northwest Ukrainian town of Zaporizhzhia.
There was no Russian comment on the evacuations. Hundreds of Ukrainians remain inside, according to Ukrainian officials.
West of Odessa, which has so far been relatively unaffected by the war, a Russian missile strike launched from Crimea destroyed the runway of the main airport, said Maksym Marchenko, regional governor of Odesda .
“Thank God no one was injured. Anti-sabotage measures are underway in the area,” Marchenko said. The Ukrainian military said the airport could no longer be used.
There was no immediate comment on the strike from Moscow, whose forces sporadically targeted Odessa, Ukraine’s third-largest city. Eight people were killed in a Russian strike on the city last week, Ukrainian officials said.
Moscow’s assault in the south is partly aimed at linking the region with Crimea as it pushes for full control over Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Parts of the two Donbass provinces, Luhansk and Donetsk, were already controlled by Russian-backed separatists before Moscow invaded on February 24.
Moscow calls its actions a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say that Russia has launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
Despite weeks of peace talks, the two sides seemed more distant than ever on Saturday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said lifting Western sanctions against Moscow was part of the negotiations, but Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak denied that was the case. Read more
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy insists that sanctions must be tightened and cannot be negotiated. He warned on Friday that the talks could fail because of what he called Russia’s “playbook on killing people”.
Ukraine accuses Russian troops of committing atrocities as they retreated from areas near kyiv in early April. Moscow denies the allegations. The negotiators last met in person 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 weapons and humanitarian aid.
US President Joe Biden is asking for $33 billion in aid for kyiv, including $20 billion for weapons, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday his country would continue “to give the Ukrainians the equipment they need. needed for self-defence.
Lavrov said if Washington and its partners in the US-led NATO military alliance really wanted to resolve the crisis, they should stop sending weapons to kyiv. Read more
In the town of Dobropillia in Donetsk, the shock wave from a strike on Saturday blew through the windows of a building and left a large crater in the courtyard.
A resident, who gave only his first name Andriy, said his partner was in a room facing the courtyard at the time of the attack and had lost consciousness.
“Thank goodness the four kids were in the kitchen,” he said, standing in the wrecked living room.
Residents sifted through their belongings to see what could be salvaged.
“Around 9:20 a.m. this happiness flew to our house,” fellow resident Oleh said sarcastically. “Everything is destroyed.”
Russia reported new Ukrainian strikes on its territory on Saturday.
Officials in Russia’s Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine and Belarus, said air defenses prevented a Ukrainian plane from entering. The resulting shelling hit parts of a Russian oil terminal, they said.
South of Bryansk in Russia’s Kursk region, also on the Ukrainian border, several shells were fired from Ukraine at a Russian checkpoint, Kursk Governor Roman Starovoit said. There were no casualties or damage, he added.
Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility for a series of such incidents on Russian territory. But he described a series of explosions in southern Russia on Wednesday as revenge and “karma” for the invasion of Moscow. Read more
(This story has been reclassified to change “Russian” to “Russia” in the front row)
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Reporting by Hamuda Hassan and Jorge Silva in Dobropillia, Ukraine, and Natalia Zinets in Kyiv; Additional reporting by Reuters reporters; Written by Frances Kerry and Rami Ayyub; Editing by Catherine Evans, Hugh Lawson and Daniel Wallis
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