Fighting raged on many fronts in Ukraine on Saturday, with intense fighting in the besieged port city of Mariupol, the site of some of the war’s greatest suffering. Ukrainian authorities say their forces there are fighting the Russians over the Azovstal steel plant, one of the largest in Europe.
The war is now in its fourth week. During the night, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky accused the Kremlin of deliberately creating a “humanitarian catastrophe”, but also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet with him for direct talks.
The United Nations Migration Agency says the fighting has displaced nearly 6.5 million people in Ukraine, in addition to 3.2 million refugees who have already fled the country. Ukraine claims thousands have been killed.
Here are some key things you need to know about conflict:
WHAT’S HAPPENING ON EARTH?
In city after city around Ukraine, hospitals, schools and buildings where people are looking for safety have been attacked.
Ukrainians announced on Saturday that 10 humanitarian corridors have been agreed with the Russians – one from Mariupol, several in the Kiev region and several in Luhansk. Deliveries of humanitarian aid are also planned for the city of Kherson, which is currently under Russian control.
In Mariupol, Ukrainian troops lost control of key steelmaking Azovstal, which is now damaged and highly contested, according to a comment from an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister.
“Now there is a battle for Azovstal,” Vadim Denisenko said in a televised speech on Saturday. “I can say that we have lost this economic giant. In fact, one of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe has actually been destroyed.”
Dozens of civilians have been killed and injured in attacks over the past 24 hours in the eastern Donetsk region, Ukrainian police said on Saturday. At least 37 residential buildings and infrastructure were damaged in attacks in eight towns and villages with the help of aircraft, missiles and heavy artillery.
Zelenski said in a video address to the nation on Friday night that more than 9,000 people had managed to leave Mariupol in the past day, and a total of more than 180,000 people had managed to escape through humanitarian corridors.
The Russian military said on Saturday it had used its latest hypersonic missile for the first time in combat. A spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said Dagger missiles had destroyed an underground warehouse storing Ukrainian missiles and aviation ammunition in Ukraine’s western Ivano-Frankivsk region.
A 38-hour curfew has been announced in the southeastern city of Zaporozhye, which will run from 4pm local time on Saturday to 6am on Monday. Authorities said two rocket attacks on the city’s suburbs had killed nine people a day earlier. Local authorities there say they continue to evacuate people from areas occupied by Russian troops.
IN THE MEANTIME INTO THE SEPARATE SPACE
Three Russian astronauts arrived on Friday at the International Space Station and, while drifting at zero gravity, were dressed in bright yellow summer suits with blue accents. These are the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
Later, the astronauts managed to talk to their family on Earth, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemiev was asked about summer costumes. He said each crew chose their own flight suits and “we had actually accumulated a lot of yellow material, so we had to use it. So we had to wear yellow.”
Since the beginning of the war, many people have used the Ukrainian flag and its colors to show solidarity with the country. It was not clear what message, if any, the yellow uniforms should send.
WHAT DO WORLD LEADERS DO?
President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping spoke for nearly two hours on Friday as the United States sought to deter Beijing from providing military or economic aid to the Russian invasion. Biden described the consequences the Chinese would face from the United States if they provided military or economic aid to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For his part, he called on the United States and Russia to negotiate and blamed the United States for the crisis.
But on Saturday, China’s deputy foreign minister reiterated NATO’s blame for the war and criticized sanctions against Russia. Le Yuchen said NATO was a “consequence of the Cold War” and that its enlargement could lead to “consequences too terrible to think” of a great power like Russia.
French President Emmanuel Macron has called for an immediate ceasefire in a telephone conversation with Putin on Friday. Macron’s office said Putin blamed Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also pressured Putin to cease fire in a conversation Friday.
Biden plans to travel to Europe next week to hold talks with European leaders on the Russian invasion and will attend an emergency NATO summit in Brussels.
WHERE ARE THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN CONVERSATIONS?
The head of the Russian delegation, in talks with Ukrainian officials, said the countries had moved closer to an agreement on Ukraine’s neutral status – one of Russia’s key demands as its offensive continues. Vladimir Medinsky said on Friday that the countries have also narrowed their differences over Ukraine’s withdrawal from its NATO bid.
But Mihailo Podoliak, an adviser to Zelenski, tweeted: “Our positions are unchanged. Ceasefire, troop withdrawal and strong security guarantees with specific formulas. “
Meanwhile, Britain’s foreign minister has accused Putin of using the talks as a “smokescreen” while escalating violence against the country. Liz Truss told the London Times that she was “very skeptical” about Russia’s seriousness in the talks, accusing Russian forces of trying to create space for regrouping and unblocking their troubled campaign.
WHAT IS THE CIVIL TORI IN THE WAR SO FAR?
The UN Office of Human Rights says it has registered a total of 816 civilians killed and 1,333 wounded since the Russian invasion began on February 24, although it has only released data it can confirm. He believes that the figures significantly underestimate the actual fees. Ukrainian authorities say thousands have been killed.
The country’s chief prosecutor’s office said on Saturday that a total of 112 children had been killed since the fighting began. More than 140 children were injured.
Germany’s federal police said on Saturday it had registered more than 200,000 Ukrainian refugees in the country since the war broke out.
WHAT DIRECTLY WITNESS OR CONFIRM AP?
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, AP journalists have been covering images of destruction, disaster and challenge across the country.
A soldier standing guard near the site of the strike in Lviv said he heard three explosions in quick succession around 6am. A resident nearby described his building vibrating with explosions and panicking people. Hours later, the smoke continued to rise.
HOW IS THE WORLD ANSWER TO WAR?
The United States and its allies have imposed a series of sanctions aimed at crippling Russia’s economy. Hundreds of international companies have announced they are cutting back in Russia, and those who remain are under pressure to retire.
On Friday, Pope Francis condemned what he called “the perverse abuse of power” in Russia’s war in Ukraine and called for help for Ukrainians whose identity, history and traditions have been attacked. Francis’ comments have been some of his strongest ever in defending Ukraine’s right to exist as a sovereign state.
Support agencies are stepping up their efforts to deliver humanitarian supplies to civilians affected by the fighting and refugees who have fled Ukraine. The Polish city of Rzeszow, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Ukrainian border, has become a humanitarian hub for the region.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war: http://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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Basic things you need to know about the conflict
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