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A Ukrainian official said the attack halted evacuations for the second time

LVIV “Plans to evacuate civilians from the besieged port city of Ukraine failed on Sunday for the second time along with the expected Russian ceasefire,” a Ukrainian official said as officials tried to persuade Russia to agree to establish other routes. for evacuation near the capital of Ukraine.

Residents are expected to leave the port city of Mariupol during a local ceasefire from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Ukrainian military authorities said earlier in the day. Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said the planned evacuations had been halted due to an ongoing attack by Russian troops.

“There can be no ‘green corridors’ because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start firing and at whom,” Gerashchenko told the Telegram.

The news shattered hopes for progress in relief, but ended the war in Ukraine, which is now in its 11-day period, and forced 1.5 million people to flee the country. The head of the UN refugee agency on Sunday called the eviction “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”

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The presidents of Turkey and France, as well as Pope Francis, have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate an end to the conflict.

Separately, Ukraine’s National Security Service says Russian forces have fired rockets at a physical institute in the city of Kharkov that contains nuclear material and a reactor. Russian troops have already taken control of the Zaporozhye plant in Ukraine, as well as Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

The security service said a strike on the Kharkov nuclear facility could lead to a “large-scale environmental catastrophe”. The service announced on Facebook on Sunday that the Russians were firing from Grad launchers. These missiles do not have accurate targeting, which raises concerns that one could be misled.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has reiterated a call for foreign defenders to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which NATO has so far ruled out for fear that such action would draw the West into the war.

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“The world is strong enough to close our skies,” Zelenski said in a video message Sunday.

Putin warned on Saturday that Moscow would consider a third country’s declaration of closing Ukrainian airspace a hostile act.

Disappointment for women, children and the elderly waiting to leave Mariupol and the nearby town of Volnovakha while capable Ukrainian men remained to fight came after a similar ceasefire agreement failed on Saturday and foreign leaders tried to enforce diplomacy. ending the conflict. war.

Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could only be stopped “only if Kyiv ceases hostilities and complies with Russia’s well-known demands,” according to the Kremlin in a telephone conversation between the two leaders on Sunday. .

Earlier, Putin listed “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine, recognition of Crimea as part of Russia and separatist regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states as the Kremlin’s main demands.

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“It was hoped that during the next round of talks planned, Ukraine’s representatives would show a more constructive approach, taking full account of emerging realities. The third round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators is scheduled for Monday.

In an extremely unusual move, Pope Francis said on Sunday that he had sent two cardinals to Ukraine, saying the Vatican was ready to do everything possible to establish peace to end the conflict that began on February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine,” the pontiff said in his traditional Sunday blessing. “This is not just a military operation, but a war that sows death, destruction and misery.

As Russian forces surrounded several Ukrainian cities and maintained a convoy outside the capital, Kyiv, Zelensky appeared on television Saturday night, dressed in what turned into a regular military green T-shirt, and gathered his men to remain challenging.

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“Ukrainians in all our cities where the enemy has entered, go on the offensive!” Said Zelensky. “You have to go outside!” You have to fight! “We need to get out and drive this evil out of our cities, out of our land.”

After a ceasefire in Mariupol failed on Saturday, Russian forces stepped up shelling of the city and dropped massive bombs on residential areas of Chernihiv, a city north of Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities said.

In Mariupol, deprived mothers mourned the slain children, turnstiles were placed on wounded soldiers, and doctors worked in the light of their mobile phones as gloom and despair invaded.

“The city is in a very, very severe state of siege,” Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko told Ukrainian television. “The relentless shelling of apartment blocks continues, planes drop bombs on residential areas. The Russian occupiers used heavy artillery, including Grad missile systems.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued to blame the war on Ukraine’s leadership, criticizing their resistance to Russian forces.

“If they continue to do what they are doing, they are questioning the future of Ukrainian statehood,” Putin said on Saturday. “And if that happens, it will be entirely on their conscience.”

He also hit Western sanctions, which crippled the Russian economy and led to a fall in the value of its currency. Meanwhile, more and more companies are shutting down in Russia, including Mastercard and Visa.

“The sanctions that are being imposed are like declaring war,” he said during a televised meeting with flight attendants from Russia’s Aeroflot, which on Saturday suspended all international flights except Belarus. “But, thank God, we haven’t gotten there yet.”

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The World Health Organization on Sunday condemned attacks on health workers in Ukraine, saying it had confirmed at least six such attacks that killed six people and injured 11 others.

The attacks on health workers are a violation of international humanitarian law, WHO Director-General Tedros Adanom Gebrejesus said on Twitter.

The British military on Sunday compared Russia’s tactics in Ukraine to those used in Chechnya and Syria, where besieged cities were hit by air strikes and artillery after Russian forces faced unexpected resistance.

The force of the Ukrainian resistance continues to surprise Russian forces, and they have responded by attacking populated areas, including the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol, the UK Defense Ministry said in a daily intelligence briefing.

“This will probably be an effort to break Ukrainian morale,” the ministry said. “Russia used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016, using both air and ground ammunition.

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It is difficult to measure the number of victims of the conflict. The UN Office of Human Rights said at least 351 civilians had been killed, but the true number was probably much higher. Russian and Ukrainian defense officials have not provided information on their military casualties.

Ukraine’s army is far outnumbered by Russia’s, but its professional and volunteer forces are retaliating with fierce tenacity. In Kyiv, volunteers lined up on Saturday to join the army.

Even in the cities that fell, there were signs of resistance that Zelensky demanded.

Observers in Chernihiv applauded as they watched a Russian military plane fall from the sky and crash, according to a video released by the Ukrainian government. In Kherson, hundreds of protesters waved blue and yellow Ukrainian flags and shouted, “Go home.”

But the fight for a temporary ceasefire in Mariupol and Volnovakha on Saturday showed the fragility of efforts to end fighting in Ukraine.

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Russia has made significant progress in southern Ukraine as it seeks to block access to the Avrov Sea. The takeover of Mariupol could allow Moscow to create a land corridor to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 in a move that most other countries consider illegal.

Meanwhile, the head of the Chernihiv region said Russia had dropped powerful bombs on residential areas in the city of the same name, which has a population of 290,000. Vyacheslav Chaus posted an online photo of what he said was an unexploded FAB-500, a 1,100-pound (500-pound) bomb.

“Usually these weapons are used against military-industrial facilities and fortified structures,” Chaus said.

The West has widely supported Ukraine by offering aid and arms supplies and imposing huge sanctions on Russia. But no NATO troops have been sent to Ukraine, leaving Ukrainians to fight Russian troops.

“Ukraine is bleeding, but Ukraine has not fallen,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a video released Saturday.

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US President Joe Biden called Zelensky early Sunday, Kiev time, to discuss sanctions against Russia and the acceleration of US aid to Ukraine. The White House said the conversation also included talks between Russia and Ukraine, but did not give details.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spent the weekend visiting NATO member states in Eastern Europe that have received refugees from Ukraine. In Moldova on Sunday, he pledged support for the western-oriented former Soviet republic, which is closely monitoring Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The UN has said it will increase its humanitarian operations both inside and outside Ukraine, and the Security Council has scheduled a meeting Monday for the deteriorating situation.

The UN World Food Program has warned of an impending famine crisis in Ukraine, a major global supplier of wheat, saying millions will need food aid “immediately”.

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Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow the PA’s coverage of the crisis in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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A Ukrainian official said the attack halted evacuations for the second time

Source link A Ukrainian official said the attack halted evacuations for the second time

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