August 15, 2022

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Russia strikes close to Ukrainian capital; port metropolis beneath siege

By MSTYSLAV CHERNOV and YURAS KARMANAU

MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces pounded the Ukrainian port metropolis of Mariupol on Saturday, shelling its downtown as residents hid in its iconic mosque and elsewhere to keep away from the explosions. Combating additionally raged within the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, as Russia saved up its bombardment of a number of resisting cities.

Mariupol, a metropolis of 446,000 folks, has endured a few of Ukraine’s worst distress since Russia invaded. Unceasing barrages have thwarted repeated makes an attempt to carry meals, water and drugs into the town and evacuate its trapped civilians. It has even interrupted the town’s efforts to hurriedly bury its useless in mass graves.

The Ukrainian authorities mentioned Saturday that the Sultan Suleiman Mosque was hit, however an unverified Instagram publish by a person claiming to be the mosque affiliation’s president mentioned the constructing was spared when a bomb fell about 750 yards (700 meters) away. About 80 residents, together with youngsters, had been reportedly hiding inside.

“They’re bombing it (Mariupol) 24 hours a day, launching missiles. It’s hatred. They kill youngsters,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned throughout a video tackle.

An Related Press journalist in Mariupol witnessed tanks hearth on a nine-story house constructing and was with a gaggle of hospital staff who got here beneath sniper hearth on Friday. A employee shot within the hip survived, however situations within the hospital had been deteriorating: electrical energy was reserved for working tables, and other people with nowhere else to go lined the hallways.

Amongst them was Anastasiya Erashova, who wept and trembled as she held a sleeping youngster. Shelling had simply killed her different youngster in addition to her brother’s youngster, Erashova mentioned, her scalp crusted with blood.

“We got here to my brother’s (place), all of us collectively. The ladies and kids went underground, after which some mortar struck that constructing,” she mentioned. “We had been trapped underground, and two youngsters died. Nobody was in a position to save them.”

In the meantime, French and German leaders spoke Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a failed try to succeed in a cease-fire. In line with the Kremlin, Putin laid out phrases for ending the battle, together with Ukraine’s demilitarization and its ceding of territory, amongst different calls for.

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Ukraine’s army mentioned Saturday that Russian forces captured Mariupol’s japanese outskirts, tightening the armed squeeze on the strategic port. Taking Mariupol and different ports on the Azov Sea might permit Russia to ascertain a land hall to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Zelenskyy inspired his folks to maintain up their resistance, which many analysts mentioned has prevented the speedy offensive and army victory the Kremlin doubtless anticipated whereas planning to invade Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor.

“The truth that the entire Ukrainian folks resist these invaders has already gone down in historical past, however we should not have the precise to let up our protection, regardless of how troublesome it could be for us,” he mentioned. Later Saturday, Zelenskyy reported that 1,300 Ukrainian troopers have died in preventing for the reason that Feb. 24 begin of the Russian invasion.

Zelenskyy once more deplored NATO’s refusal to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine and mentioned Ukraine has sought methods to obtain air protection belongings, although he didn’t elaborate.

Zelenskyy additionally accused Russia of using “a brand new stage of terror” with the alleged kidnapping the mayor of Melitopol, a metropolis 192 kilometers (119 miles) west of Mariupol. After residents of the occupied metropolis demonstrated for the mayor’s launch Saturday, the Ukrainian chief referred to as on Russian forces to heed the calls.

“Please hear in Moscow!” Zelenskyy mentioned. “One other protest in opposition to Russian troops, in opposition to makes an attempt to carry the town to its knees.”

In a number of areas across the capital, artillery barrages despatched residents scurrying for shelter as air raid sirens wailed. Britain’s Protection Ministry mentioned Russian floor forces that had been massed north of Kyiv for many of the battle had edged to inside 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the town heart and unfold out, more likely to assist an tried encirclement.

As artillery pounded Kyiv’s northwestern outskirts, black and white columns of smoke rose southwest of the capital after a strike on an ammunition depot within the city of Vasylkiv triggered lots of of small explosions. A frozen meals warehouse simply outdoors the capital additionally was struck in an obvious effort to focus on Kyiv’s meals provide.

Ukraine’s army and volunteer forces have been making ready for an all-out assault. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko mentioned Thursday that about 2 million folks, half the metropolitan space’s inhabitants, had left and that “each road, each home … is being fortified.”

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Zelenskyy mentioned Saturday that Russia would want to carpet-bomb the Ukrainian capital and kill its residents to take the town.

“They are going to come right here provided that they kill us all,” he mentioned. “If that’s their objective, allow them to come.”

Putin held a 90-minute name with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday. Putin spoke about “points associated to agreements beneath dialogue to implement the Russian calls for” for ending the battle, the Kremlin mentioned with out offering particulars.

For ending hostilities, Moscow has demanded that Ukraine drop its bid to affix NATO and undertake a impartial standing; acknowledge the Russian sovereignty over Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014; acknowledge the independence of separatist areas within the nation’s east; and conform to demilitarize.

Zelenskyy informed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Saturday that he can be open to assembly Putin in Jerusalem to debate an finish to the battle, however that there would first need to be a cease-fire. Bennett just lately met in Moscow with Putin, who has ignored earlier provides of talks from Zelenskyy.

Russia’s gradual tightening of a noose round Kyiv and the bombardment of different cities mirror techniques that Russian forces have beforehand utilized in different campaigns, notably in Syria and Chechnya, to crush armed resistance.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Turkey mentioned 86 Turkish nationals, together with 34 youngsters, had been among the many individuals who had sought security in Mariupol’s mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his spouse Roksolana, which was modeled on one of the well-known and largest mosques in Istanbul.

Earlier than Mariupol grew to become a goal of the largest land battle in Europe since World Conflict II, the town promoted the white-walled constructing and its towering minaret as a scenic attraction. The loss of life toll in Mariupol handed 1,500 on Friday, from 12 days of assault, the mayor’s workplace mentioned.

With Mariupol’s electrical energy, gasoline and water provides knocked out, assist staff and Ukrainian authorities described an unfolding humanitarian disaster. Help group Docs With out Borders mentioned Mariupol residents are dying from a scarcity of treatment and are draining heating pipes for consuming water.

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Russian forces have hit not less than two dozen hospitals and medical amenities since invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, in accordance with the World Well being Group. Ukrainian officers reported Saturday that heavy artillery broken a most cancers hospital and several other residential buildings in Mykolaiv, a metropolis 489 kilometers (304 miles) west of Mariupol.

The hospital’s head physician, Maksim Beznosenko, mentioned a number of hundred sufferers had been within the facility throughout the assault, however nobody was killed.

The Russian invaders seem to have struggled way over anticipated in opposition to decided Ukrainian fighters. Nonetheless, Russia’s stronger army threatens to grind down Ukrainian forces, regardless of an ongoing move of weapons and different help from the West for Ukraine’s westward-looking, democratically elected authorities.

A senior Russian diplomat warned that Moscow might assault overseas shipments of army tools to Ukraine. Talking Saturday, Deputy International Minister Sergei Ryabkov mentioned Moscow has warned america “that pumping weapons from numerous international locations it orchestrates isn’t only a harmful transfer — it’s an motion that makes these convoys respectable targets.”

Russia’s troops are more likely to be bolstered quickly from overseas. Denis Pushilin, the Russia-backed head of a separatist area in japanese Ukraine, mentioned Saturday that he expects “many 1000’s” of fighters from the Center East to affix the rebels and struggle “shoulder-to-shoulder” in opposition to the Ukrainian military.

1000’s of troopers on either side are believed to have been killed together with many civilians. At the least 2.5 million folks have fled the nation, in accordance with the United Nations refugee company.

The Ukrainian chief prosecutor’s workplace mentioned Saturday not less than 79 youngsters have been killed and almost 100 have been wounded. Many of the victims had been within the Kyiv, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Sumy, Kherson and Zhytomyr areas, the workplace mentioned, noting that the numbers aren’t ultimate as a result of lively preventing continues.

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Karmanau reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Related Press journalists Felipe Dana and Andrew Drake in Kyiv and different reporters world wide contributed.

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Comply with the AP’s protection of the Ukraine disaster at