Kyiv, Ukraine (AFP) – Workers digging through the rubble of an apartment building in Mariupol have found 200 bodies in the basement, Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday, as more atrocities emerged in the devastated city that has seen some of the worst suffering for residents. 3 month old war.
The corpses are decomposing and the stench is spreading through the neighbourhood, Petro Andryushenko, an advisor to the mayor, said. He did not say when they were discovered, but the sheer number of casualties makes it one of the deadliest known attacks of the war.
Meanwhile, heavy fighting was reported in Donbass, the eastern industrial stronghold that Russian forces intended to take over. Russian forces captured an industrial city hosting a thermal power plant, and intensified efforts to encircle and capture Severodonetsk and other cities.
12 people were killed in Russian bombing of the Donetsk region of Donbass, according to the region’s governor. The governor of the Luhansk region in Donbass said the region was facing its “hardest time” in the eight years since separatist fighting broke out there.
The Russians are advancing in all directions at the same time. Governor Serhi Haiday wrote on a telegram. “The invaders are killing our cities and destroying everything around us.” He added that Luhansk had become “like Mariupol”.
Mariupol was relentlessly bombed during a nearly three-month siege that ended last week After some 2,500 Ukrainian fighters abandoned a steel plant in which they had made their position. Russian forces actually controlled the rest of the city, with an estimated 100,000 people remaining outside the city before the war, with a population of 450,000, many trapped during the siege with little food, water, heating, or electricity..
At least 21,000 people were killed in the siege, according to Ukrainian authorities, who accused Russia of trying to cover up the atrocities by bringing in mobile cremation equipment and burying the dead in mass graves.
During the attack on Mariupol, Russian air strikes hit a maternity hospital A theater where civilians take shelter. An Associated Press investigation found that nearly 600 people died in the attack on the stagedouble the figure estimated by the Ukrainian authorities.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russians of waging a “total war” and seeking to inflict as much death and destruction as possible on his country.
“In fact, there has been no such war on the European continent for 77 years,” Zelensky said, referring to the end of World War II.
Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the Donbass for eight years and occupying swathes of territory. Sievierodonetsk and neighboring cities are the only part of the Luhansk region in Donbass that is still under the control of the Ukrainian government.
British military authorities said that Russian forces had achieved “some local successes” despite strong Ukrainian resistance along the excavated sites.
Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces in the region are facing a difficult situation.
“In practical terms, the entire force of the Russian army, no matter what they have left, is thrown into the offensive there,” Zelensky said late Tuesday in his evening address to the nation. “Liman, Popasna, Severodonetsk, Slavyansk – the occupiers want to destroy everything there.”
In the Donetsk region, Russian forces captured the industrial city of Svetlodarsk, which hosts a thermal power plant and had a pre-war population of about 11,000, and raised the Russian flag there.
“They have now hung their rags on the building of the local administration,” Serhiy Gushko, head of the local Ukrainian military administration, told Ukraine’s Radio Vilnii, referring to the Russian flag. Gushko said armed units were patrolling the streets of Svetlodarsk and checking residents’ documents.
Russian forces also bombarded the eastern city of Sloviansk with cluster munitions, hitting a private building, according to Mayor Vadim Lyakh. He said casualties had been avoided because many people had already left their homes, and he urged the remaining residents to evacuate West. Heavy fighting also broke out in the city of Lyman.
Amid the fighting, two senior Russian officials appeared to admit that Moscow’s progress had been slower than expected, despite their vows that the offensive would achieve its goals.
Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council. “Do not chase deadlines,” the Russian government said. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told a meeting of the Russian-led security alliance of the former Soviet Union that Moscow was slowing its offensive to allow residents of besieged cities to evacuate – even though the troops had repeatedly hit civilian targets.
Hours later, Zelensky mocked Shoigu’s assertion.
“Well, after three months of searching for an explanation for why they couldn’t divide Ukraine in three days, they couldn’t think of anything better than saying that’s what they planned,” he said in the title of his video.
Russian officials also announced that Russian forces had finished clearing mines from the waters off Mariupol and that a safe passage would be opened Wednesday for the exit of up to 70 foreign ships from the southern coast of Ukraine.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, there are signs of recovery after weeks of bombing. Residents formed long queues to receive rations of flour, pasta, sugar and other food items this week. Ukrainian officials said Tuesday that Russian forces withdrew from the vicinity of Kharkiv earlier this month, retreating toward the Russian border in the face of Ukrainian counterattacks, although Russia continues to bombard the area from afar.
Galina Kolymbed, the aid distribution center coordinator, said more and more people are returning to the city. Coulimpid said the center provides food to more than 1,000 people each day, a number that is constantly growing.
“A lot of them have young children, and they spend their money on kids, so they need some support with food,” she said.
Meanwhile, the wife of the commander in chief who held out inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol said on Tuesday that she had a short phone conversation with her husband, who surrendered to the Russians and was captured last week.
Katerina Prokopenko, who is married to Denis Prokopenko, commander of the Azov Regiment, said that the call broke before he could say anything about himself.
She said the call took place under an agreement between Ukraine and Russia mediated by the Red Cross.
Prokopenko and Yulia Fedosek, the wife of another soldier, said several families had received phone calls in the past two days. The women said they hoped the soldiers would not be tortured and that they would “eventually return home.”
Denis Pushlin, the leader of Moscow-backed separatists in the Donetsk region, told Russia’s Interfax news agency that preparations are underway for the trial of the captured Ukrainian soldiers, including the defenders of Mariupol.
Picatoros reported from Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Associated Press reporters Juras Karmanau in Lviv, Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv, Danica Kirka in London, and other AP workers around the world contributed.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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