These steps by Russian troops come at a time when the mayor of Mariupol claims that Russian troops have killed more than 10,000 civilians in the city.
Kyiv, Ukraine – The besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been even more horrified six weeks of strikes by Russian troopsthe mayor said more than 10,000 civilians had died in the strategic southern port and their corpses “covered the streets”.
As Russia struck at targets around Ukraine and prepared for a major assault in the east, the head of state warned that President Vladimir Putin’s forces could turn to chemical weapons, and Western officials said they were investigating an unconfirmed allegation by the Ukrainian regiment to dump the poison. in Mariupol.
The city has seen some of the most severe attacks and suffering of civilians in the warbut ground, naval and air raids by Russian troops fighting for its capture have increasingly limited information about what is happening in the city.
Speaking on the phone Monday to the Associated Press, Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko accused Russian forces of blocking several weeks of attempts by humanitarian convoys into the city, in part to hide the massacre. Said Boychenko in Mariupol alone the death toll could exceed 20,000.
Boychenko too gave new details allegations by Ukrainian officials that Russian forces had brought mobile cremation equipment to Mariupol to dispose of the bodies of victims of the blockade. He said Russian forces had taken many bodies to a huge mall where there are warehouses and refrigerators.
“Mobile crematoria arrived in the form of trucks: you open, and inside the pipe, and these bodies are burned,” – said the mayor.
Boychenko spoke with the Ukrainian-controlled territory outside Mariupol. The mayor said he had several sources to describe the alleged methodical arson of bodies by Russian troops in the city, but did not specify the sources.
The discovery of a large number of apparently killed civilians after the retreat of Russian troops from cities and towns around the capital Kiev has already provoked widespread condemnation and accusations that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine.
These forces withdrew after they failed to take Kyiv in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance, and now Russia says it will focus on the Donbass, an industrial region in eastern Ukraine. There are already signs that the military is preparing for a major offensive.
During a visit to Russia’s Far East on Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin insisted on the military achieving its goals in Ukraine, saying the campaign was aimed at ensuring Russia’s security and protecting civilians in the east. He added that his country does not intend to isolate itself and that foreign states will not be able to isolate it – despite the fence broad economic sanctions.
Putin’s visit to the Vostochny space launch complex was his first trip outside Moscow since Russia’s February 24 invasion.
The British Ministry of Defense said that Russian troops continue to withdraw from Belarus to support operations in eastern Ukraine, where, in his words, the fighting “intensifies in the next two or three weeks.”
Growing forces in the east, Russia continued to strike at targets throughout Ukraine, seeking to weaken the country’s defenses. Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that it had used air and sea-based missiles to destroy an ammunition depot and an aircraft hangar in Starokonstantinov in western Khmelnytsky Oblast and an ammunition depot near Kyiv.
Fighting between Russian separatist allies and Ukrainian forces has been raging in the Donbas since 2014, and Russia has recognized separatists’ claims to independence. Military strategists say Russian leaders seem to be hoping for local support, logistical support and groundwork in the Donbas to help Russia’s larger and better-armed military, potentially allowing its troops to finally resolutely turn the situation around in their favor. fought so far.
Russia has appointed an experienced general to lead its new push in the Donbass, but questions remain about the ability of exhausted and demoralized Russian troops to conquer large areas.
When their offensive in many parts of the country was thwarted, Russian troops increasingly relied on city bombing, a strategy that leveled many urban areas and killed thousands. And Western officials warn that Putin could resort to the use of unconventional weapons, particularly chemical agents, as part of a campaign by US and British authorities to publish intelligence findings on Russia’s plans, in part as a deterrent.
Zelensky reiterated the warning in his nightly appeal on Monday, saying in particular that weapons could be used in Mariupol. “We take this as seriously as possible,” Zelensky said.
Allied spokesman Eduard Basurin called on them to use them on Monday, telling Russian state television that separatist forces should seize a giant metallurgical plant in Mariupol from Ukrainian troops, first blocking all exits from the plant. “And then we’ll use chemical troops to smoke them out,” he said.
The Ukrainian regiment, which is defending the plant, said on Monday, without providing evidence, that the drone dropped a poisonous substance on the city. It was noted that there were no serious injuries.
The approval of the Azov Regiment, a far-right group that is now part of the Ukrainian military, cannot be verified independently.
Interfax quoted Basurin as saying on Tuesday that separatist forces “did not use any chemical weapons in Mariupol.”
But Deputy Defense Minister Anna Painter said that the Ukrainian authorities are investigating. She told Ukrainian television that “there is a suspicion that it was probably phosphorus ammunition.” Britain has warned that Russia could use phosphorus bombs in Mariupol, which cause horrific burns and whose use in civilian areas is banned under international law.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the United States could not confirm the report on the drone from Mariupol. But Kirby noted the administration’s persistent concern about Russia’s potential to use a variety of riot control measures, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Liz Trass said the UK was “urgently working” to investigate the report.
Meanwhile, Western military analysts say Russia’s attack is increasingly focused on the arc of territory stretching from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, in the north to Kherson in the south.
A senior U.S. defense official on Monday described a long Russian convoy now moving toward the eastern city of Izyum with artillery, aircraft and infantry as part of a redeployment for what appears to be approaching the Russian company.
On the eve of this offensive, it seemed that diplomatic progress towards ending the war, which drove more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes, more than 4 million of them from the country, thousands died, did not seem.
The UN agency for children said almost two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have left their homes since the beginning of the Russian invasion, and the Ukrainian authorities accuse Russian forces of atrocities, including massacre in Buchabehind Kiev, air strikes on hospitals and missile attack last week at the train station where people tried to escape.
Meanwhile, in Mariupol, about 120,000 civilians are in dire need of food, water, heat and communication, the mayor said.
Ukraine accuses Russian forces of forcibly removing people from the city to the separatist-controlled east before sending them to remote, economically depressed areas of Russia. Russia has refused to move people against their will.
Karmanov reported from Lviv (Ukraine). Associated Press writer Robert Burns of Washington and AP reporters around the world contributed to this report.