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Ukrainian Forces Try to Hold Mariupol as Combat Reaches City Streets

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Ukrainian Forces Try to Hold Mariupol as Combat Reaches City Streets


Kyiv, Ukraine — Russian and Ukrainian troops are fighting on the city streets of Mariupol as Moscow aims to create a corridor between Russia and its annexed region of Crimea, officials said Saturday.

During three weeks of bombing and raids, Ukrainians say they stopped Russian troops on the outskirts of the southern port city, but that has changed. “The battle is already in the city itself,” an official from the mayor’s office said via text message. “But Mariupol is still a Ukrainian city.”

Ukrainian government forces said they continued to resist Saturday. “Heavy fighting between the defenders and the occupiers of Mariupol continues, including on the city streets,” reported the Telegram channel of the volunteer group Azov Camp, whose members have been in the city fighting with the regular government The army fought side by side.

“The army repelled the enemy, they did not stop the attack on Mariupol with artillery and aircraft,” the report said.

The capture of Mariupol would be a key victory for Russia, which has so far failed to capture any major city in Ukraine. It will liberate its forces, encircle Ukrainian forces in the east, and push further towards the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

In the southern city of Mykolaiv, Russian missiles attacked the headquarters of the 79th Brigade of the Ukrainian Army, including dormitories where families of officers live. Several buildings collapsed and live footage broadcast by Ukrainian TV channels showed a child being dug from the rubble. Ukrainian officials said 40 people were killed and more.

Residents of a basement in Mariupol, Ukraine.


Photo:

Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim said in a video that a “cowardly” Russian attack targeted sleeping soldiers and rescue operations were under way at the scene. He added that Ukraine’s military counteroffensive in the region is advancing.

As Russian troops attacked Mariupol with airstrikes and artillery, the city has become a symbol of hardline Ukrainian resistance and civilian suffering. Officials said thousands of the city’s 400,000 people fled and thousands were killed, some thrown into mass graves.

Areas no longer under Ukrainian control since Friday

the direction of the invading force

Under Russian control or allied with Russia

major refugee border crossings

Chernobyl

not running

Ukrainian territory, recognized as independent by Putin

controller

split molecule

Areas no longer under Ukrainian control since Friday

the direction of the invading force

Under Russian control or allied with Russia

Ukrainian territory, recognized as independent by Putin

major refugee border crossings

Chernobyl

not running

controlled by

split molecule

Areas no longer under Ukrainian control since Friday

the direction of the invading force

Under Russian control or allied with Russia

major refugee border crossings

Ukrainian territory, recognized as independent by Putin

Chernobyl

not running

controlled by

split molecule

Areas no longer under Ukrainian control since Friday

the direction of the invading force

Under Russian control or allied with Russia

major refugee border crossings

Ukrainian territory, recognized as independent by Putin

Areas no longer under Ukrainian control since Friday

the direction of the invading force

Under Russian control or allied with Russia

major refugee border crossings

Ukrainian territory, recognized as independent by Putin

Kyiv had tried to free Mariupol, but so far without success. Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Ukrainian troops could not break the Russian siege and responded to criticism that the government was not doing enough.

Mariupol’s proximity to the Russian border means Moscow can easily bring in significant air power from nearby military centers such as Crimea and the southern Russian city of Rostov, he said.

Local residents carry water on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine.


Photo:

Alexei Alexandrov/Associated Press

The closest Ukrainian forces to Mariupol were more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) away, and the terrain around the city did not provide cover for a Russian attack, he said.

“Unfortunately, no military in the world – not even the United States – can keep this distance from the military we currently have there,” Mr. Arestovic said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an evening speech that 9,000 people had been evacuated from the city. Rescuers in Mariupol this week evacuated 130 people from the wreckage of an airstrike theater and searched for more survivors.

Ukrainian human rights commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova said some 1,300 people were still trapped in the theater’s basement on Friday, where residents were taking shelter from Russian shelling, adding that it was difficult to identify survivors. number of people. She did not confirm any casualties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare public appearance in front of tens of thousands of flag-waving supporters at a Moscow stadium on Friday, vowing to continue his invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers in a military trench in Nikolayev, Ukraine.


Photo:

bulent kilic/AFP/Getty Images

A Ukrainian soldier has been rescued from the rubble of a military school hit by a Russian airstrike in Nikolayev, Ukraine.


Photo:

bulent kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Part of the Russian offensive was bogged down by poor planning and logistics, and troops encountered a fierce Ukrainian counterattack. Some ground progress in Russia stalled this week amid mounting casualties. The Ukrainian government says four Russian generals have died. Some U.S. government calculations estimate as many as 7,000 Russian soldiers were killed in the operation, but officials have warned that these are uncertain estimates.

However, Moscow has been showing off some of its high-tech weapons for long-range missile strikes. Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday it fired an air-launched ballistic missile at Ukraine in what could be the first use of a system that Putin announced a few years ago.

The ministry said the weapon hit a large underground warehouse of missiles and aviation munitions near Deliatin in western Ukraine. Russian state media RIA Novosti said it was the first use of the new weapon.

Ukrainian refugees queue to enter Poland through the Medyka border crossing in Shehyni, Ukraine.


Photo:

Angel Garcia/Bloomberg News

The Ukrainian military confirmed an attack on the facility, where munitions stored there were detonated. Ukrainian Armed Forces Air Force spokesman Yuri Ignat said there was no information on the number of casualties or the type of weapons used.

“Unfortunately, Ukraine has become a testing ground for Russia’s entire missile arsenal,” Mr Ignat said. “They use missiles that fly 2,000 kilometers, 55,000 kilometers.”

Apart from seven open humanitarian corridors, Russian troops “continue to block humanitarian aid to the besieged city in most areas”, Mr Zelensky said. He added that more than 180,000 Ukrainians had been rescued and a large amount of essential goods had been delivered. He also eliminated all taxes and duties to speed up the entry of goods into the country.

Mr Zelensky called on Russia to negotiate and said he would address other countries including Switzerland, Israel, Italy and Japan in the coming days, as he did to the United States, Canada and Germany. “It’s time to meet. It’s time to talk. It’s time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine,” he said. “Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be so great that generations won’t be enough to bounce back … Ukraine’s proposal is already on the table.”

Russian missiles targeted the Ukrainian region closest to the Polish border, hitting an airport near Lviv; firefighters in Kyiv put out fires and shelling turned residential areas into rubble; President Biden and Xi Jinping held talks on Ukraine.Photo: Associated Press

President Biden spoke with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a nearly two-hour video conference on Friday in an attempt to prevent Beijing from becoming more involved in Moscow’s war effort.

A senior U.S. official said after the conference call that “President Biden has made clear the implications and consequences of China’s provision of material support to Russia.”

Xi Jinping is trying to portray China as a peacemaker. “The Ukraine crisis is something we don’t want to see,” he told Biden, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency. “Conflict and confrontation are not in anyone’s interest.”

Write to Alan Cullison at [email protected] and Isabel Coles at [email protected]

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