KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces resumed scattered attacks on Kyiv, western Ukraine and beyond on Saturday, an explosive reminder to Ukrainians and their Western supporters that the whole country remains under threat despite the pivot of Russia towards a new offensive in the east.
Stung by the loss of its Black Sea flagship and outraged by what it presumed were Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory, the Russian military command had warned a day earlier of further attacks on the capital Ukraine and said it was targeting military sites.
Associated Press reporters have documented civilian deaths in strikes this week on the eastern city of Kharkiv, and each day brings new findings of civilian casualties in a war that has shattered European security. In the Kyiv region alone, Ukrainian authorities reported finding the bodies of more than 900 civilians, most of them shot, after Russian troops withdrew two weeks ago.
Smoke rose early Saturday in eastern Kyiv as Mayor Vitali Klitschko signaled a strike in the Darnytsky district. He said lifeguards and paramedics were at the scene and information on any fatalities would be provided later. The mayor advised residents who had fled the city at the start of the war not to return for their safety.
It was not immediately clear from the ground what had been hit in the attack. Darnytskyi is a sprawling district on the southeastern outskirts of the capital, containing a mix of Soviet-style apartment buildings, new shipping centers and big-box retail stores, industrial areas and train stations. sorting.
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said Russian forces used “long-range, high-precision air-launched weapons” to target an armored vehicle factory in kyiv. He did not specify where exactly the kyiv plant is, but there is one in the Darnytskyi district.
This was the second strike in the Kyiv region in two days. Another hit a missile factory on Friday as tentative signs of pre-war life began to resurface in the capital after Russian troops failed to capture the city and retreated to concentrate about launching a full-scale assault in eastern Ukraine.
kyiv was not the only target on Saturday. In eastern Ukraine, an explosion believed to be caused by a missile hit Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, according to firefighters and AP journalists at the scene.
The strike near an open-air market as well as residential and industrial buildings killed one person and injured at least 18, according to emergency workers who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information .
Meanwhile, the governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine – far from the Russian border and an area long considered a safe zone – reported airstrikes on the area by Russian Su planes. -35 which took off from neighboring Belarus. Maksym Kozytskyy did not provide details of any casualties or damage.
Fighting continued in the southern port city of Mariupol, where residents reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies. In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, a shelling of a residential area killed seven people, including a 7-month-old child, and injured 34, according to regional governor Oleh Sinehubov.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russian troops occupying parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south of terrorizing civilians and driving out anyone who has served in the Ukrainian military or government.
“The occupiers believe this will make it easier for them to control this territory. But they are very wrong. They are wrong,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. “Russia’s problem is that it is not accepted – and will never be accepted – by all Ukrainian people. Russia has lost Ukraine forever.
Officials believe 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers died during the war, Zelenskyy told CNN in an interview. He said around 10,000 people were injured and it is “difficult to say how many will survive”.
The United Nations human rights office said it confirmed the death of 1,982 civilians, but warned that the figure does not include those killed in blocked towns like Mariupol and that the true number is almost certain to be considerably higher.
Russia’s warning about escalating attacks on the capital came after Russian authorities on Thursday accused Ukraine of injuring seven people and damaging around 100 residential buildings in airstrikes in Bryansk, a region Ukrainian border. Authorities in another region bordering Russia also reported Ukrainian shelling.
Ukrainian officials have not confirmed any striking targets in Russia, and the reports could not be independently verified.
However, Ukrainian officials hit a key Russian warship with missiles earlier this week, in a significant victory for Ukraine and a symbolic defeat for Russia.
A senior US defense official said the United States believed the Moskva had been hit by at least one Neptune anti-ship missile. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment.
The Moskva, named after the Russian capital, sank while being towed to port on Thursday after sustaining heavy damage. Moscow did not acknowledge any attack, saying only that a fire had detonated ammunition on board.
The sinking reduced Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea and appeared to symbolize Moscow’s fortunes in an eight-week invasion widely seen as a historic mistake after Russia withdrew from the kyiv region and much of the north from Ukraine.
After the removal, the bodies were left on the streets of towns around Kyiv or given temporary burials. Andriy Nebytov, who heads the region’s police force, cited police data indicating that 95% died from gunshot wounds.
“Therefore, we understand that under the (Russian) occupation, people were simply executed in the streets,” Nebytov said.
More and more bodies are being found every day under the rubble and in mass graves, he added, with the largest number being found in Bucha, more than 350. According to Nebytov, utility workers gathered and buried bodies on the outskirts of kyiv while it remained under Russian control. Russian troops, he added, had “hunted down” people who expressed strong pro-Ukrainian views.
In Mariupol, the city council said on Friday that residents reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies buried in residential yards and not allowing further burials “of people killed by them”.
“Why the exhumation is taking place and where the bodies will be taken are unknown,” the council said on the Telegram messaging app.
Fighting continued in industrial areas and the port, and Russia used the Tu-22М3 long-range bomber for the first time to attack the city, said Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
Mariupol has been blockaded by Russian forces since the early days of the invasion, and dwindling numbers of Ukrainian defenders have withstood a siege that has cost the trapped and starving civilians dearly.
The mayor said this week that the death toll in the city could top 20,000. Other Ukrainian officials said they expected to find evidence in Mariupol of atrocities like those uncovered in Bucha and other cities. other cities apart from kyiv.
Capturing Mariupol would allow Russian forces from the south, crossing the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbass region, the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine and the target of the impending offensive. .
It is unclear when Russia will launch a full-scale campaign.
Also on Friday, a Ukrainian regional official said seven people were killed and 27 injured when Russian forces fired on buses carrying civilians in the village of Borovaya, near Kharkiv. The claim could not be independently verified.
Dmytro Chubenko, spokesman for the regional prosecutor’s office, told the Suspilne news site that authorities had opened criminal charges in connection with an “alleged violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder”. .
Chernov reported from Kharkiv. Yesica Fisch in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Robert Burns in Washington, and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.
Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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