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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Saturday that Russian troops are creating a “catastrophic” situation for civilians by leaving mines around houses, abandoned equipment and the bodies of those killed.
“It is still not possible to return to normal life, as before, even in the territories that we are taking back after the fighting,” the president told his country in an overnight video message.
“We have to wait for our lands to be cleared, wait for us to be able to assure you that there will be no new bombings,” he said.
UKRAINE REACTS AFTER RUSSIA ACCUSES ITS HELICOPTERS OF LAUNCHING AIRSTRIKES ON OIL DEPOT ACROSS THE BORDER
Ukraine and its Western allies have reported mounting evidence that Russia is withdrawing its forces from around kyiv and sending troops into eastern Ukraine.
Officials said Ukrainian fighters had taken over several areas near its capital, including the town of Brovary.
However, this change does not mean that the country faces a reprieve from the war.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that Russian forces decided to suppress protesters in the southeastern town of Enerhodar, home to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Ukraine’s state nuclear agency, Energoatom, reported on the attacks on its official Telegram channel, posting an accompanying video clip that featured what appeared to be loud explosions and flying debris.
“As the protesters began to disperse, the invaders arrived in police vehicles and began forcing local residents into them,” the message read. “A few minutes later, the city was rocked by massive explosions and shelling.”
The agency said four people were injured and received medical assistance.
Energoatom also claimed that Russian forces had blocked telephone and internet communications throughout Enerhodar, although the agency’s claims could not immediately be verified.
At least three Russian ballistic missiles were fired into the Odessa region on Friday night – although Ukraine’s military said the Iskander missiles failed to hit the critical infrastructure they were targeting.
ZELENSKYY LAUNCHES MASSIVE EFFORT TO MAKE UKRAINIANS WHOLE AFTER RUSSIAN DESTRUCTION
Zelenskyy said he expected towns to receive airstrikes and shelling from afar and fighting in the east to be heavy.
In Mariupol, a southern port city in the predominantly Russian-speaking region of Donbass, the International Committee of the Red Cross on Saturday planned to deliver emergency relief supplies to the besieged town and evacuate residents.
City authorities said the Russians blocked access to the city on Friday and the Red Cross said it was unable to carry out the operation because it had not received the assurance that the route was safe.
Around 100,000 people are believed to have remained in the town and authorities said around 2,000 made it on their own on Friday.
While several agreements have been reached to allow residents to evacuate – one of which was reportedly set for “days ahead” – they have already been breached.
Residents urgently need water, food, fuel and medicine.
“Europe has no right to remain silent about what is happening in our Mariupol,” Zelenskyy said. “The whole world should react to this humanitarian disaster.”
There was no word on Saturday during Friday’s round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators.
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On Friday, the Kremlin accused Ukraine of launching a helicopter attack on a fuel depot on Russian soil.
Ukraine has denied responsibility for the Belgorod blast and Zelenskyy did not tell Fox News’ Bret Baier whether Ukraine was behind the attack in an interview on “Special Report.”
The US Department of Defense said on Friday it would provide an additional $300 million in arms to Ukrainian forces.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.