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 continued in Donbass, the eastern industrial area that Russian forces intended to take over. Russian forces intensified their efforts to encircle and capture Sievierodonetsk and other cities.
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.
Ukrainian media reported that in the Donetsk region of the Donbass region, Russian forces captured the industrial city of Svetlodarsk and raised the Russian flag there. Heavy fighting took place 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.
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. Russian forces withdrew from the vicinity of Kharkiv earlier this month, retreating toward the Russian border in the face of Ukrainian counterattacks.
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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