Russia says Ukraine is shooting its own citizens; some evacuations in Mariupol

Kiev: Ukraine has killed and wounded its own civilians in shelling in the southern region of Kherson, Russia said on Sunday (May 1) after shelling southern and eastern areas with missile strikes as some civilians escaped a steel mill in besieged Mariupol .

Moscow has shifted its focus to southern and eastern Ukraine after failing to take the capital, Kiev, in a nine-week attack that bulldozed cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 5 million to flee abroad.

His forces have captured the city of Kherson, giving them a foothold just 100 km north of Russia-annexed Crimea, and have mainly occupied Mariupol, the strategic eastern port city on the Azov Sea.

The Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukrainian troops of shelling a school, kindergarten and cemetery in the villages of Kyselivka and Shyroka Balka in the Kherson region, Russia’s RIA news agency said on Sunday.

The ministry gave no further details. There was no immediate response from Ukraine to the report, which Reuters was unable to independently verify.

But the Ukrainian army said in a bulletin on Sunday that Russian forces were fighting to break past Kherson’s administrative borders and clear the way for attacks on the cities of Mykolayiv and Kryvyi Rih.

Russia’s control of Kherson will help support its advance north and west and improve its control of Crimea, British military intelligence said in a Twitter update.

Russia declared victory in Mariupol on April 21, as hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians took refuge in the Azovstal steel plant.

The United Nations has pushed for an evacuation deal. On Saturday, a Ukrainian fighter inside said some 20 women and children had survived.

“We are pulling civilians out of the rubble with ropes – they are the elderly, women and children,” said the combatant, Sviatoslav Palamar, referring to wreckage at the factory, which extends over 4 square kilometers.

Palamar said Russia and Ukraine respected a local ceasefire, and he hoped the evacuated civilians would be taken to the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhya in the northwest.

There was no comment from Russia or the United Nations about the evacuations. Hundreds of Ukrainians remain at the steel plant, Ukrainian officials say.


A Russian missile launched from Crimea destroyed the runway at the main airport in the western city of Odessa, regional governor Maksym Marchenko said, but no one was injured.

The airport could no longer be used, the Ukrainian military said. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised to rebuild it, saying in a video address late at night: “Odesa will never forget Russia’s behavior towards the country.”

There was no comment on the attack from Moscow, whose forces have sporadically attacked Ukraine’s third-largest city, where eight people have died in a recent Russian attack, Ukrainian officials said.

Moscow’s attack to the south is intended, in part, to link the area to Crimea as it pushes for full control over Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where Russian-backed separatists already controlled parts of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces before the collapse. invasion of Moscow on February 24.

In his speech, Zelenskyy said Russia is “gathering additional troops for new attacks on our army in the east of the country” and “trying to increase pressure in the Donbas”.

Moscow calls its actions a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of Western-fueled anti-Russian nationalism. Ukraine and the West say Russia has started an unprovoked war of aggression.

Despite weeks of peace talks, the two sides appeared to be as far apart as ever on Saturday.

Ukraine accuses Russian troops of committing atrocities in areas near Kiev in early April, a claim Moscow has denied. The negotiators last met on March 29 and have spoken via video link ever since.

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