Ukrainian port city Mariupol suffered heavy losses under indiscriminate Russian bombing. Russian troops attacked the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Saturday, shelling the city center as residents sheltered from bombs at an iconic mosque and elsewhere. Heavy fighting also took place on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, as Russia continued to bombard other cities across the country.
Ukrainian port city Mariupol suffered heavy losses under indiscriminate Russian bombing
Mariupol has suffered the worst punishment since Russia invaded Ukraine. Incessant artillery fire has prevented multiple attempts to deliver food, water and medicine to the city of 430,000 people, as well as to evacuate trapped civilians. Since the siege of Mariupol, more than 1,500 people have been killed, and the shelling has even interrupted efforts to bury the dead, the mayor’s office said.
Negotiations aimed at a ceasefire failed again on Saturday, and while the United States announced plans to provide Ukraine with an additional $200 million in weapons, a top Russian diplomat warned that Moscow could attack foreign shipments of military equipment.
A Ukrainian official said Russian soldiers robbed a humanitarian convoy trying to reach Mariupol and prevented another from passing through. The Ukrainian military said Russian troops had occupied the eastern outskirts of Mariupol, tightening the siege of the strategic port. Seizing Mariupol and other ports in the Sea of Azov could allow Russia to create a land corridor to Crimea. Russia took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
“They are bombing it (Mariupol) 24 hours a day, launching missiles. This is hatred. They kill children,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address. Satellite imagery released Saturday by Maxar showed fires in parts of the city, with extensive damage to apartments, homes and other infrastructure.
Zelensky encouraged his people to continue their resistance. “We have no right to relax our defences, no matter how difficult it is,” he said.
Late Saturday, Zelensky said 1,300 Ukrainian troops had been killed since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said only nine of the 14 corridors agreed on Saturday were open, and about 13,000 people used them to evacuate across the country.
Zelensky said Saturday that Russia could only take over the city by carpet-bombing Kyiv and killing its inhabitants. “They can only come in if they kill us all,” he said. “If that’s their goal, let them come.”
French and German leaders held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday but failed to reach a ceasefire agreement. The Kremlin said Putin offered conditions for ending the war. To end the hostilities, Moscow demanded that Ukraine renounce NATO membership and adopt neutral status; recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014; recognize the independence of separatist parts of eastern Ukraine; and agree to demilitarization.
Zelensky told Israeli Prime Minister Bennett on Saturday that he was willing to meet Putin in Jerusalem to discuss ending the war, but first there must be a ceasefire. Bennett recently met Putin in Moscow, who ignored Zelensky’s previous offer for talks.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Saturday that Russia could attack foreign military equipment shipped to Ukraine. The delivery of equipment “makes these convoys legitimate (attack) targets,” he said.
The Ukrainian government said thousands of soldiers and many civilians were believed to have been killed on both sides, including at least 79 Ukrainian children. At least 2.5 million people have fled the country, according to the UN refugee agency.