ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces continued their assault on Ukraine on Monday, seeking to capture the crucial southern port city of Mariupol, as Moscow prepared to celebrate its Victory Day holiday. .
ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces continued their assault on Ukraine on Monday, seeking to capture the crucial port city of Mariupol as Moscow prepared to celebrate its victory party.
Determined to show success in a war now in its 11th week, Russian troops were battering a seaside steelworks where around 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were doing what seemed to be their last fight to prevent Mariupol from falling.
The mill is the only part of town that hasn’t been overrun by invaders. Its defeat would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and allow Russia to establish a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
The Ukrainian General Staff warned of a high probability of missile strikes and said that in Russian-controlled areas in Zaporizhzhia, Russian troops were seizing “personal documents from local people for no good reason”. The Ukrainian army alleged that Russian troops seized documents to force residents to join in Victory Day commemorations.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that the anniversary, which marks Russia’s triumph over Nazi Germany in 1945, could lead to another attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin may wish to proclaim victory in Ukraine when he addresses troops marching in Red Square.
“They have nothing to celebrate,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations, said of the Russians, speaking on CNN. “They failed to defeat the Ukrainians. They failed to divide the world or to divide NATO. And they only succeeded in isolating themselves internationally and becoming a pariah state all over the world.
Battles were fought on several fronts, but Russia was closest to victory in Mariupol.
Ukrainian fighters at the steelworks rejected Russian deadlines for laying down their arms as attacks continued by fighter jets, artillery and tanks.
“We are constantly being bombarded,” said Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment, a unit that owns the steelworks.
Lieutenant Illya Samoilenko, another member of the Azov regiment, said a few hundred wounded soldiers were in the factory. He declined to say how many able-bodied fighters remained. Fighters lack lifesaving equipment and have to dig by hand to free people from bunkers that have collapsed under shelling.
“For us, surrender is unacceptable because we cannot bestow such a gift on the enemy,” Samoilenko said.
The last civilians who had taken refuge with fighters at the factory were evacuated on Saturday. They arrived Sunday evening in Zaporizhzhia, the first major Ukrainian city beyond the front lines, and talked about constant shelling, dwindling food, ubiquitous mold – and the use of hand sanitizer as cooking fuel.
The British Ministry of Defense warned in a daily intelligence report on Twitter that Russia was running out of precision-guided munitions and was increasingly using inaccurate rockets and bombs, subjecting Ukrainian cities to “intense and indiscriminate bombardment.” with little or no consideration for civilian casualties”. ”
More than 60 people are believed to have been killed after a Russian bomb leveled a Ukrainian school used as a shelter in Bilohorivka, a village in the east, Ukrainian officials said.
Around 90 people were sheltering in the school’s basement when it was attacked on Saturday. Emergency teams found two bodies and rescued 30 people, but “it is highly likely that the 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk province, wrote on the app. Telegram messenger.
Russian shelling killed two boys, aged 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, Haidai said. Luhansk is part of Donbass, the industrial heart of the east that Russian forces are trying to conquer.
Explosions echoed in the main port of Odessa on the Black Sea.
Continuing their fierce resistance, the Ukrainian army struck Russian positions on an island in the Black Sea which was captured in the early days of the war. A satellite image from Planet Labs showed smoke rising from two sites on the island.
But Moscow’s forces showed no signs of backing down in the south. Satellite photos show Russia stationing armored vehicles and missile systems at a small base on the Crimean peninsula.
The Ukrainian military also warned that some 19 Russian battalion tactical groups were stationed just across the border in Russia’s Belgorod region. These groups probably consist of some 15,200 soldiers with tanks, missile batteries and other weapons.
The heaviest fighting in recent days has taken place in eastern Ukraine. A Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast near Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, was making “significant progress”, according to the Institute for the Study of Warfare, a Washington think tank.
However, the Ukrainian army withdrew from the besieged eastern town of Popasna after two months of fierce fighting. Rodion Miroshnik, a representative of the pro-Kremlin breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic, said his forces and Russian troops captured most of the city.
The Kharkiv regional administration said three people were killed in the shelling of the town of Bogodukhiv, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Kharkiv.
South of Kharkiv in Dnipropetrovsk province, the governor said a 12-year-old boy was killed by a cluster munition he found after a Russian attack. An international treaty prohibits the use of such explosives, but neither Russia nor Ukraine has signed the agreement.
“This war is treacherous,” Governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on social media. “It’s close, even when it’s invisible.”
As VE Day turned the spotlight on Putin, Western leaders showed new signs of support for Ukraine.
The industrial democracies of the Group of Seven have pledged to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil. The G-7 is made up of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Japan.
The United States announced other new sanctions, cutting Western advertising from Russia’s three largest television channels, banning American accounting and consulting firms from providing services, and cutting off Russia’s industrial sector of wood products, engines industries, boilers and bulldozers.
The First Lady of the United States Jill Biden met his Ukrainian counterpart. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised his country’s flag outside his embassy in Kyiv. And U2’s Bono, alongside bandmate The Edge, performed at a Kyiv metro station that had been used as a bomb shelter, singing the 1960s song ‘Stand by Me’.
Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine Kristina Kvien posted a photo of herself at the US Embassy and outlined plans for a possible US return to the Ukrainian capital after the Moscow forces abandoned their efforts to storm kyiv weeks ago.
Zelenskyy released a video address marking Allied Victory Day in Europe 77 years ago. The black-and-white footage showed him in front of a crumbling building in Borodyanka, a Kyiv suburb.
Drawing parallels between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the evils of Nazism, Zelenskyy said generations of Ukrainians understood the meaning of the words ‘Never again’, a vow not to allow a repeat of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Gambrell reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Yesica Fisch in Bakhmut, David Keyton in kyiv, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv and AP staff around the world contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
Elena Becatoros and Jon Gambrell, Associated Press