Russia is bombing another bunker in a besieged city, Ukraine says

LVIV, Ukraine >> Ukrainian authorities said on Sunday that the Russian military bombed an art school housing around 400 people in the embattled port city of Mariupol, where Ukraine’s president said a relentless Russian siege loomed large for centuries to come memory will remain.

It was the second time in less than a week that city officials reported a public building where residents had taken shelter and been attacked. A bomb hit a theater in Mariupol on Wednesday, believed to be accommodating more than 1,300 people, local officials said.

There was no immediate information about casualties in the reported art school strike, which The Associated Press has not been able to independently verify. Ukrainian officials have not given an update on the search of the theater since Friday, when they said at least 130 people had been rescued.

Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of ​​Azov, has been bombed for at least three weeks and has endured some of the worst horrors of Ukraine’s war. At least 2,300 people died, some had to be buried in mass graves, and food, water and electricity ran out.

“Doing to a peaceful city what the occupiers did is a terror that will be remembered for centuries,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his late-night video address to the nation. “The more Russia uses terror against Ukraine, the worse the consequences will be for her.”

In recent days, Russian troops have fought their way into the city, cutting it off from the Sea of ​​Azov and ravaging a huge steel mill. The fall of Mariupol would be an important but costly victory for the Russians, whose advance outside of other major cities has largely stalled more than three weeks after Europe’s biggest land invasion since World War II.

In major cities across Ukraine, hundreds of men, women and children have been killed in Russian bombing raids, while millions of civilians have rushed to underground shelters or fled the country.

In the capital Kyiv, at least 20 babies being carried by Ukrainian surrogates are stuck in a makeshift bomb shelter, waiting for parents to travel to the war zone to pick them up. The babies – some just days old – are being cared for by nurses who are unable to leave the shelter because they are constantly being fired upon by Russian troops trying to encircle the town.

In the hard-hit northeastern city of Sumy, authorities have evacuated 71 orphans through a humanitarian corridor, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said on Sunday. He said the orphans, most of whom need constant medical attention, will be taken to an unspecified foreign country.

Russian shelling killed at least five civilians, including a 9-year-old boy, in Kharkiv, an eastern city that is Ukraine’s second largest.

Britain’s MoD said Russia’s failure to gain control of the skies over Ukraine “has significantly hampered its operational progress” and forced it to rely on standoff weapons fired from relatively safe Russian airspace.

A rocket attack on the Black Sea port city of Mykolayiv early Friday killed up to 40 marines, a Ukrainian military official told the New York Times, making it one of the deadliest single attacks on Ukrainian forces.

In another strike, the Russian Defense Ministry said a Kinzhal hypersonic missile hit a Ukrainian fuel storage facility in Kostyantynivka, a town near Mykolaiv. The Russian military said Saturday it used a Kinzhal for the first time in combat to destroy an ammunition depot in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine.

Russia has said the Kinzhal, carried by MiG-31 fighter jets, has a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (about 1,250 miles) and flies at 10 times the speed of sound. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Saturday the US could not confirm the use of a hypersonic missile in Ukraine.

Konashenkov said Kalibr cruise missiles fired from the Caspian Sea by Russian warships also took part in the attack on the Kostyantynivka fuel depot and were used to destroy an armaments repair factory in northern Ukraine.

Unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance has dashed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hopes of a quick victory after he ordered his troops to invade Ukraine on February 24.

While the Kremlin said Russia was conducting a “special military operation” targeting legitimate targets, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that “brutal, brutal techniques” used against civilians allowed Moscow troops to advance.

UN bodies have confirmed more than 847 civilian deaths since the war began, although they concede the real number is likely much higher. According to the United Nations, almost 3.4 million people have fled Ukraine as refugees.

Estimates of Russian deaths vary widely, but even conservative numbers are in the low thousands. The reported battlefield deaths of four Russian generals — out of an estimated 20 stationed in Ukraine — indicate a compromised leadership in the fighting, said Dmitry Gorenburg, a researcher on Russia’s security at Virginia-based think tank CNA. said Gorenburg.

Russia would need 800,000 troops – almost as many as its entire active-duty military – to control Ukraine in the face of sustained armed opposition, according to Michael Clarke, former head of the UK-based Royal United Services Institute, a defense think tank.

“Unless the Russians intend to carry out a full-scale genocide – they could raze all major cities, and the Ukrainians will rise up against the Russian occupation – there will just be constant guerrilla warfare,” Clarke said.

Ukraine and Russia have held several rounds of negotiations to end the conflict, but neighboring countries remain divided on several issues. Zelenskyy has said he is ready to drop Ukraine’s bid to join NATO, but demands certain security guarantees from Russia. Moscow is pushing for the complete demilitarization of Ukraine.

Evacuations from Mariupol and other besieged cities were made along eight of 10 humanitarian corridors agreed by Ukraine and Russia on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, and officials said a total of 6,623 people had left Kyiv and other cities.

Vereshchuk said the planned humanitarian aid for the southern city of Kherson, which Russia captured earlier in the war, could not be delivered because the trucks were stopped en route by Russian troops.

Mariupol authorities said on Sunday that despite sustained air and artillery strikes, nearly 40,000 people have left the city over the past week, the vast majority in their own vehicles.

Mariupol City Council claimed on Saturday that Russian soldiers forcibly relocated several thousand city residents, mostly women and children, to Russia. It didn’t say where, and AP couldn’t immediately confirm the claim.

Some Russians have also fled their country amid widespread crackdowns on dissidents. Since the invasion of Ukraine began, police have arrested thousands of anti-war protesters, while government agencies have silenced independent media and blocked access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

In Ukraine, Zelenskyy on Sunday ordered the activities of 11 political parties with ties to Russia to be suspended during the period of martial law. The largest of these parties has 44 seats out of 450 in the country’s parliament.

“Activities by politicians aimed at discord and cooperation will not succeed,” he said in the address.

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