As Russia stepped up its efforts to surrender Mariupol, ground attacks in other parts of the country fell into the swamp.
LVIV, Ukraine – Russian forces have been squeezing other areas near the capital and attacking the southern port of Mariupol, as Ukraine said early Tuesday that it had recaptured a strategically important area of Kiev.
Explosions and gunfire shook Kiev, and black smoke rose from a point north. Intensive artillery fire was heard from the north-west, where Russia was trying to besiege and seize several suburban areas of the capital, which was a decisive target.
Residents took refuge in their homes or underground under a 35-hour curfew imposed by authorities in the capital until Wednesday morning.
After the defenders of the southern port city refused to surrender, Russian forces also pushed the siege of Mariupol. However, the Kremlin’s ground offensive in other parts of the country progressed slowly or never, and was repulsed by deadly Ukrainian airstrikes.
On Tuesday morning, the Ukrainian military forced Russian forces to withdraw from the Makariv region near Kiev after heavy fighting, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said. The recaptured territory allowed Ukrainian forces to seize control of the main highway and prevent Russian troops from besieging Kiev from the northwest.
However, the Defense Ministry said that Russian forces fighting towards Kiev had managed to partially capture Bucha, Hostomel and Irpini, some of which were attacked by the Russian army almost a month ago, some of which had been attacked.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces are increasingly concentrating their air force and artillery on Ukrainian cities and civilians.
According to the United Nations, the occupation has displaced more than 10 million people, similar to the population of Portugal, and almost a quarter of Ukraine’s pre-war population. The United Nations has confirmed that more than 900 civilians have been killed, saying the real death toll is likely to be higher. Estimates of the deaths of Russian servicemen vary, but even conservative figures are in the thousands.
US and British officials say Kyiv remains Russia’s main target. Emergency officials say most of Moscow’s forces remain miles away from the center, but missiles and artillery destroyed residential buildings and a large shopping mall, and were reduced to rubble by smoke after eight people were killed Sunday night.
A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the military’s assessment, said Russia had stepped up airstrikes in the past two days, made about 300 flights in 24 hours and fired more than 1,100 missiles into the country. Ukraine since the beginning of the occupation.
US President Joe Biden, who traveled to Europe over the weekend to meet with allies, suggested on Monday night that worse could still come.
“Putin’s back is against the wall,” Biden said. “He did not expect the scale or strength of our union. And the longer he stands behind the wall, the more severe the tactics he can use. ”
Biden reiterated accusations that Putin was considering using chemical weapons.
As Russian forces tried to oust Kiev, talks to end the fighting continued via video, but failed to bridge the gap between the two sides. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told Ukrainian television on Monday evening that he would be ready to consider rejecting any offer from Ukraine to join NATO, Russia’s main demand in exchange for a ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and guarantees of Ukraine’s security.
Zelensky also suggested that Kiev be open to future discussions on the status of Crimea, which Russia occupied in 2014, and the territories of the Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbas region. But he said it was another matter.
As part of a series of appeals to foreign legislatures to support Ukraine, Zelensky spoke to Italian lawmakers on Tuesday, saying the besieged port of Mariupol had been completely destroyed by a Russian attack. He also spoke with Pope Francis.
“Imagine Genoa completely burned down,” he told lawmakers, citing the example of an Italian port city of similar size. He said 117 children had been killed in the war so far.
Some people have managed to escape Mariupol, where Russian bombings for weeks have cut off electricity, water and food supplies and cut off communication with the outside world. The city council said on Tuesday that more than 1,100 people fleeing the besieged city were traveling in a bus convoy to another city, northwest of Mariupol.
However, the Red Cross said that a convoy of humanitarian aid trying to reach the city, which is in a difficult situation with much-needed equipment, has not yet been able to enter.
Located in the Sea of Azov, Mariupol is an important port for Ukraine and is located in an area between Russia and Crimea. Thus, this is the main target, which has been under siege for more than three weeks and has suffered the most from the war.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. On Tuesday, Ukrainian Defense Ministry forces said they were still defending the city and destroying a Russian patrol boat and electronic warfare complex, while British Defense Ministry intelligence said “Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russian attempts to occupy the city.”
Before the war, Mariupol had a population of about 430,000. About a quarter are believed to have fled in the early days of the war, and tens of thousands have fled humanitarian corridors over the past week. Other attempts were thwarted by fighting.
Mariupol officials said on March 15 that at least 2,300 people had died during the siege, and some were buried in mass graves. There have been no official estimates since then, but it is feared that the figure will be higher.
Those who left Mariupol were talking about the ruined city.
“There are no more buildings there,” said Maria Fiodorova, 77, who crossed the border into Poland on Monday after a five-day trip.
A long line of cars lined the road in Bezimenne, east of Mariupol, as residents took refuge in a makeshift camp set up by Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region. About 5,000 Mariupol residents took refuge in the camp. Many came in cars with signs reading “children” in Russian.
A woman who gave her name as Yulia said she and her family were seeking refuge in Bezimenne after the demolition of six houses behind her house.
“So we got in the car at our own risk and drove for 15 minutes, because everything was destroyed there and the bodies were in the middle,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said a total of more than 8,000 people fled to safe areas through humanitarian corridors on Monday, including about 3,000 from Mariupol.
In total, more than 3.5 million people have left Ukraine, and another 6.5 million have been displaced.
Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), called the speed and scale of people fleeing danger in Ukraine “unprecedented.”
Anna reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Associated Press writer Lviv-based Yuras Karmanau and other AP journalists around the world contributed to the report.
Ukraine War: Zelensky says Ukraine is ready to discuss the agreement
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